Monday, May 16, 2005


Lies, Damned Lies and Polls

As I've written previously, some of the polls on political party preference etc, have to be wrong. Today's Sun/Leger Marketing poll is another example of this statistical fact. It's impossible that public opinion could swing back and forth so extremely and repeatedly in only a couple of weeks. Of course the question is which ones are correctly gauging overall voter sentiment and which are wrong. I predict that pollsters sense this and we'll see more polls than usual as they themselves try to sort this out. In the meantime, I don't envy Harper who has to hope he's picking the most accurate ones. x
Postscript to this story:
In fact, this story really was a damned lie!

From the Calgary Sun dated May 16, 2005: "...Paul Martin's troops would retake battleground Ontario if a federal election were held now, a new Sun Media/Leger Marketing poll has found.

Although the Calgary Sun and The Ottawa Sun both carried this story (dated May 16th by Antonella Artuso), only the Ottawa Journal pointed out in the very last line of the story that the poll was actually conducted from May 3rd to May 9th, a full week to 2 weeks ago, allowing readers to easily conclude that this was a fresh story rather than what it actually was - old, recycled and therefore misleading information. In the case of the Calgary Sun, it was presented as news of that date (May 16). As if that weren't enough, the Ottawa Sun published a second story by the same writer which also examined the results of this same poll and in that story , no mention was made of the fact that the data being presented was, by any reasonable standard, misleading in the extreme.
I am therefore writing a formal letter of complaint to the Alberta and Ontario Press Councils as this simply cannot be allowed to pass without protest. Given the seriousness of the current political situation in Canada, this goes beyond sloppy. It was at the very least purposely misleading and irresponsible journalism in the extreme. The journalist has a very clear obligation and responsibility to present a story in proper context; as well, the editors responsible for the content of their newspapers must ensure that this is so. The editors of the other Sun newspapers who apparently declined to run this story would do well if only in their own self-interest to ensure that this 'journalist' is shown the door immediately. The editors of the Ottawa Citizen and the Calgary Sun should print retractions immediately to underline their commitment to journalistic integrity.

For anyone who shares my concern about this incident and wants to file a complaint, here is the relevant contact information.

List of Canadian Press Councils

Here are the 3 articles:

Martin ahead of Harper in polls.By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, SUN MEDIA
June ballot not in favour, survey says.By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen's Park Bureau
Federal Liberals grab 12-point lead over Conservatives

PPS to this story:
Apparently, this journalist has been rewarded for her exemplary efforts. The byline on today's story (May 18) lists her as Bureau Chief!

"An Attractive One - But Still a Dipstick". By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU CHIEF


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