Headlines that make stuff up.

Today’s lead story in The Ottawa Sun was that the Conservatives were headed for a  majority with a 21% lead  according to the most recent polling. The problem was that the poll referred to predated the scandal around the G8/G20 summit.

Ekos, a different polling company, now reports that post-scandal and  going into the debates last night, Harper’s support had dropped to single digits and that he was looking at a significantly reduced minority. Here’s what Ekos says:

“In what is the tightest period of the race so far, the 11-point cushion that Conservatives had in the opening days of the campaign has been replaced with a scant 5.6-point lead. Their comfortable and seat-efficient Ontario margin of 10 points has basically vanished and, at these numbers, the Conservatives would be looking at a significantly diminished minority.

“The Conservatives are now at 33.8 points nationally – down from the outset of the early campaign where they were at 36.9 points. They are now more than three points shy of the last election and showing newfound weakness in the key regions of Ontario, and British Columbia. Meanwhile, the Liberals are moving up steadily (if unspectacularly) and are now tied in the crucial Ontario market.”

From a 21 point fictitious lead to one that’s less than 6 per cent? A helluva difference and shame on The Ottawa Sun for presenting polling results as fact that were out of date without mentioning the details.

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Peggy’s regular blog posts on writing and getting published will resume on May 3rd, after the Canadian election.

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5 Responses to Headlines that make stuff up.

  1. RP Fields says:

    Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention during the last few elections but the naked bias of the media seems particularly egregious this time around. Whatever happened to the days when editorial comment stayed on the editorial page?

    [As I type this I’m watching CTV NewsNet, and the ticker at the bottom of the screen just flashed “Canada is coddling prisoners with yoga and writing courses when it should be supporting victims.” Really? Sez who?]

    Like

    • Peggy Blair says:

      It does, doesn’t it? I think that most of us tend to think that polls are sort of scientific, too. This election I have really come to understand that they aren’t at all, yet the media carries them as if they are. Or puts them forward as fact, knowing they’re not. Scary stuff.

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  2. Ruth Cooke says:

    There are three types of lies: Lied, Damned Lies, and Statistics. And IMHO, any Sun newspaper is more paper than news…

    As for me, I listened to parts of the “debate” last night and came to the conclusion that none of the three major party leaders really had any definite plans to speak of–Ignatieff sounded as if he was making things up as he went along, and Layton and Harper stuck to the same old, same old.

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  3. Brian Aguinaga says:

    I’m not surprised by the Sun’s numbers. The morning after the English debate they were doing a poll of the winner and Harper was listed at more than 50% with Jack & Iggy in the teens. There seems to be much too much media spin in this election on all sides. They need to get back to just reporting the facts rather than trying to actively influence the outcome.

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