Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Slanty Poll for Slanty Coverage

Election coverage gets thumbs up

A poll released today by Essential Media on the media’s election coverage performance has shown that almost two thirds of voters gave the media a positive assessment.

The poll definitively refutes the views by a number of media critics during the recent election. Of the voters polled, 32 percent believed the media’s coverage was good, compared to only 23 percent who rated the coverage as poor.

The editor of the Fairfax-News.ltd owned Australian Morning Herald, Mr Rupert Shill said that the poll greatly vindicated the paper’s stance taken throughout the campaign.

“It is clear from this poll result that voters highly valued our coverage.

“That this polls shows he largest critics of the media were from Greens supporters confirms that we catered for the overwhelming majority of the electorate, and that in the main our critics are left wing newsletter writers or anonymous bloggers,” Mr Shill said.

“We provided a proper balance between rigorous analysis of every Government proposal, and thorough discussion of Tony Abbott’s ability to become Prime Minister.

“We also were able to appeal to the less engaged voter with water-cooler stories such as the size of Julia Gillard’s earlobes and how her lack of a handbag might suggest to some that she is a barren shrew.”

The poll, believed to be the largest of its type conducted on the election coverage, may also provide pointers for how the media will report on the coming parliament.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that this poll has told us to keep doing what we have always been doing,” Mr Shill said.

“People have told us we have got the right mix – between critically analysing the waste and debt of the Government and our ongoing campaign to destroy the Greens”.

The poll also supports the response by Prime Minister Gillard, who recently described the coverage by the media as “fair and balanced”.


Election Coverage Slammed

A poll released today by Essential Media has shown voters have roundly condemned the roundly the media’s coverage of the recent federal election.

The poll found that nearly two thirds of voters regard the coverage negatively – with almost a quarter describing it as poor. The most common response was that of 40 percent of those polled who could do no more than describe the largely bungled media coverage as “average”.

In a result that vindicates the many critics of the media in recent weeks, 14 percent of those polled described the coverage as “very poor”, compared to the mere 9 percent who were able to describe it as “very good”.

The poll result was not a surprise for respected media commentator Mr Nev. R. Pleezed.

“Without a doubt this has been the worst election campaign coverage ever by the Australia media,” he said.

“There was an overwhelming preponderance to focus on trivial matters and to use the front page of major dailies for opinion and bias. This poll demonstrates that the voters are utterly sick of this way of reporting”.

Mr Pleezed believes a number of incidents led to the media’s low satisfaction rating.

“The media campaign very quickly became more about what Laurie Oakes wanted it to be about than policy. The major newspapers followed suit by focussing on Julia Gillard’s earlobes and whether or not she has a handbag.

“Worst of all the reporters on the media bus never covered policy issues, and instead seemed more concerned about whether Mark Latham was having sugar with his coffee.”

Mr Pleezed, believed the buzz phrase of the campaign from journalists was not “policy” but “distraction”.

“They were so concerned with distractions that they themselves were distracted by what they were supposed to be doing – informing the voters”.

The high numbers of Greens’ voters who rated the performance of the media as poor also gives some insight into why the failed coverage was so poorly regarded.

“Greens voters are the most engaged,” Mr Pleezed noted, “this result shows the media targeted its coverage on shallow issues that could be covered in a quick 1-2 minutes on the nightly news.”

The editor of the leading broadsheet, the Australian Morning Herald, Mr Rupert Shill said however the poll vindicated his belief that critics of the media are by and large “left wing newsletter writers or anonymous bloggers”.


Boy isn’t it fun to slant the facts?

The truth of course may be somewhat in between.

The poll which was conducted by Essential Media asks more questions than it answers.

Firstly though let’s look at the results.

 Q. Overall, how would you rate the media (newspapers, TV, radio, internet) for their reporting of Federal politics  – thinking about their coverage both before and after the election?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens

Total good 32% 35% 37% 20%
Total poor 23% 23% 18% 37%
Very good 7% 8% 7% 2%
Good 25% 27% 30% 18%
Average 40% 37% 43% 37%
Poor 9% 7% 9% 13%
Very poor 14% 16% 9% 24%
Don’t know 6% 5% 2% 6%

Personally I think having 23 percent say the coverage is poor and a whopping 40 percent believe it was “average” is a pretty solid indictment of the coverage. Yes you could class “average” as a positive, but answer me this: when a coach or commentator says “Joe Bloggs had an average game on the weekend”, do you think that is a positive? Do you think if Joe Bloggs keeps having “average” games his spot in the side will be secure?

No of course not.

It is not a huge slap at the media, but it certainly is not pop the champagne time and slap ourselves on the back in the news rooms. At best “average” can be translated as “needs improvement”.

Of course what needs improvement is not just media but the system. I have often said the media – especially those on the bus – are handicapped by the system. The parties giving them policy a minute before the press conference, Abbott answering 10 questions, neither side telling you where they will be going the next day. It is all a crock and needs to be called as such, and the media needs to grow a pair and say “enough”.

Laurie Oakes had marvellous fun getting stuck into Mark Latham and his own network, would that he also got stuck into the parties for how they handle policy. It would not have taken too many 6 o'clock news bulletins of Oakes suggesting that “today by giving journalists 1 minute advance notice of policy, Mr Abbott/ Ms Gillard has yet again displayed s/he is afraid of policy questions, and also not up the the task of being able to say anything other than sound bites” for there to be some changes.

On the poll itself, well it is pretty much meaningless.

What is “good” or “poor” reporting? Those polled were asked about newspaper, TV, internet and radio, but we have no idea whether they got their news from once source more than another. Were the TV watchers the most or least satisfied?

How engaged were those polled? Were those most engage, the most satisfied?

For myself, I would have rated the reporting “poor”, but that is because I was after pretty much only policy. But others may like Julia Gillard earlobe stories. Does that make either of us wrong? Nope it’s just our opinion.

And also there was lots of reporting – and I would rate that aspect positively – ABC24 and Sky News were everywhere, and most media outlets’ websites were updated quickly (Fairfax being the major exception). So if you value breadth of reporting you would rate the performance as “good”, but perhaps if you prefer depth you would perhaps go with poor.

Either way I wouldn’t get too excited by this poll.

I’ll just leave by saying any that journalist who thinks that 23 percent of people saying your coverage is “poor” is a good result, better ask themselves how they covered the Orgill report’s finding of 2.7% complaints about the BER.


The RBA today released the minutes of its previous meeting, and the market got in a bit of a tizz:

Trading Day No Change Increase to 4.75%
10-Sep 76% 24%
13-Sep 76% 24%
14-Sep 76% 24%
15-Sep 76% 24%
16-Sep 83% 17%
17-Sep 81% 19%
20-Sep 71% 29%
21-Sep 60% 40%

As you can see, the chances of a rate rise are no being seriously factored into the futures market. Sadly for Bob Ellis who kept predicting a rate rise during the election campaign, the rise will come too late to destroy Gillard;’ chances of becoming PM.

The reason for this up tick in belief of a rate rise is in the following words:

While policy had to be alert to these risks, members considered that if the central scenario came to pass it was likely that higher interest rates would be required, at some point, to ensure that inflation remained consistent with the medium-term target.

That’s central bank speak for – hey you there taking out a home loan thinking interest rates are going to stay where they are – you might want to redo your budget.

So why the increase? Well obviously it’s that damn debt and stimulus.

Err no:

…the capital expenditure survey for the June quarter showed a significant upgrading of investment intentions from what was already a positive outlook. Members discussed the factors underpinning this increase, including high commodity prices, strong corporate profitability and above-average levels of capacity utilisation.

Members expected that the boost to investment in the resources sector would stimulate activity elsewhere in the economy, even though there was a significant imported component in the planned LNG projects.

Business surveys reported that conditions remained at, or above, average levels, though confidence had softened a little. The main area of weakness continued to be commercial construction, where funding constraints remained an issue. Business credit had remained broadly flat over recent months, though lending to small business had increased.

Those bloody poor, going broke, getting ready to move to East Africa, miners. If only we had a tax of some sort that could help calm the mining boom just a little so that inflation wouldn’t start to heat up to the point we would need a rate rise.

And the stimulus?

Public demand continued to contribute to GDP growth in the June quarter, though by significantly less than in earlier quarters, and it was expected to subtract from growth over the next few quarters as stimulus projects were gradually completed.

Huh – subtract from growth? How does that fit in with Joe Hockey’s narrative? (here's a hint – it doesn’t).

Here’s another thing to ponder – how many times did the minutes refer to Australian Government debt or deficit? That’s right – zero.

The next rate rise is not about debt, it’s about boom.

We wait to see if the reporting of this fact is “average”.


On a side issue, on Thursday I will be blogging at the Media140 conference . It has a stellar line up and you will be able to follow proceedings on Twitter via the hashtag #media140.


Agnes Mack said...

"Average" is an ambiguous choice to offer respondents. It could mean somewhere between good and bad, as Peter Lewis interprets it.

Or it could mean par for the course for the media - you can't expect anything else, i.e. no better or worse than usual. You'd need to then ask for an assessment of the usual media performance.

Dave said...

I'll have to try and pick up an autograph from you at the MEdia140 event.

Dong said...

Well I go for hopeless not average. Most people don't check out the facts and so would consider it OK, not knowing the distortions or bias present in much of what was reported. I do believe that since the election and uncovering of shonky coalition policies that the media are beginning to call them to account a little more.
Thanks Grog for the good work.

Anonymous said...

Headline on the ABC website this morning -

Rudd maintains 'positive' relationship with Gillard

Who inserted the inverted commas? I'll bet it wasn't Rudd.

Unknown said...

I am sick of average meaning not good. Ordinary seems to as well.
I know language changes, but these ones are too much.
Rant over.
The media coverage of the election was crap.
Grog's suggested responses are good and funny.

Alistair Baillieu-McEwan said...

Would weighting of the respective media outlets covered in the Essential Media poll have achieved any different result? If someone's only input was from T.V. their view of coverage would presumably be different from somebody exposed to print media like The Australian or if they watched SkyNews on the internet or wouldn't that matter?
My research statistics background is thirty years ago and only very hazy but there does seem to be some imbalance in the thrust of the question.

Elandsandnoon said...

I know I'm coming late to all this news, but still wanted to leave my post in support.

The argument of 'public interest' seems to willfully ignore the fact that no one twisted our arms (or Mark Scott's arm) to make us read and pay attention to Grog's Gamut when we didn't know who he was. We freely partook of these writings on the basis on which they were offered.

If there's been any breach of trust and integrity here, it is on the part of Massola and The Australian.

As a private blogger, GG is not bound by any journalistic code of conduct, but anyone keeping a scorecard would none-the-less record more points in his favour than that of Massola/The Aus.

Brett Donald said...

So I came across your blog today after reading this, and spent a couple of hours going through your posts of the last couple of months with a great deal of satisfaction. The publicity associated with being "outed" is good at least in one sense, that it has resulted in additional readers such as myself finding this blog. Keep it up!