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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Australian media on back foot with online polls

In today's Crikey Thomas Hunter asks "Australian Test team: do we really hate them?" and claims, on the basis of online polls conducted by The Age, The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, Today Tonight and Fox Sports, that the Australian cricket team is on the nose.

Some commenters have pointed out that such polls are statistically dodgy. OK, but why are they so common nowadays?

Others say that people from overseas (code for Indian diaspora) can vote and thus skew the results. If so, why don't the pollsters break down the responses according to country of origin?

IMO a problem with polls (online or other) is their wording. Adelaide Now (aka The Advertiser online) ran one recently, posing the question: "Do the Australian cricketers play within the spirit of the game?".

The results are published in today's Advertiser (p79)
  • Yes, they always do: 288 votes (12%)
  • Yes, but in the heat of battle things aren't always clear; 464 votes (19%)
  • No, they'll do anything to win: 1500 votes (63%)
  • No, in the professional era there is no such thing: 128 votes (5%)
Dan Lato , the blogger/ columnist, comments (in print at p79, but not online):

This week Adelaide Now 's coverage of the aftermath of the Sydney Test has gone global as is obvious by the poll we ran this week. Indians are passionate about their cricket and the stirring online defence of their team is testament to the devotion they have to Indian players.

Questions for Mr Lato: (1) how many Indians voted in the poll, (2) how does he know?, and (3) if he does know why doesn't he come out and produce the figures?
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