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RTE breach poll guidelines and fail to publish a key poll finding

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Friday November 24, 2006 15:17author by Citizen - Shell to Sea Report this post to the editors

RTE Primetime, The indo & Shell

RTE breach their opinion poll guidelines and fail to publish a key poll finding

Shell to Sea deplores the selective and biased account in today’s Irish Independent of the RedC opinion poll. There is an inaccurate and disgraceful manipulation of the opinion poll findings. This represents a new low in media misrepresentation of the issues. It appears that RTE has breached its own guidelines on conducting opinion polls.

Particular care must be taken when joint polls with other organisations are planned. If for example the costs of a poll are shared with a newspaper, programme makers must be aware that the same constraints of impartiality do not apply to newspapers as apply to RT and that the high-lighting of particular data in the newspapers may reflect on the impartiality of RTE … Programme-makers must be wary of the possibility of data from polling and its interpretation being used in a partisan or propagandist way (RTE Guidelines)

Shell to Sea statement
November 24th, 2006

RTE breach their opinion poll guidelines and fail to publish a key poll finding

Shell to Sea deplores the selective and biased account in today’s Irish Independent of the RedC opinion poll. There is an inaccurate and disgraceful manipulation of the opinion poll findings. This represents a new low in media misrepresentation of the issues. It appears that RTE has breached its own guidelines on conducting opinion polls.

Particular care must be taken when joint polls with other organisations are planned. If for example the costs of a poll are shared with a newspaper, programme makers must be aware that the same constraints of impartiality do not apply to newspapers as apply to RT and that the high-lighting of particular data in the newspapers may reflect on the impartiality of RTE … Programme-makers must be wary of the possibility of data from polling and its interpretation being used in a partisan or propagandist way (RTE Guidelines)

Crucially, a key poll finding which asked respondents their preferred development model for the Corrib gas project was not published. This question showed that 44% supported an off-shore processing of the gas; 29% supported a processing at Bellanaboy; and 17% wanted the project abandoned.

The facts of the opinion poll are as follows:

The Independent reports that 70% ‘back Corrib’. There is no such figure in the data. 32% want protests at Bellanaboy to cease and 38% want them to continue but without an effort to impede worker access. This finding refers to a mode of protest not to a backing of the project.

The Independent reports that 51% say the project should go ahead as planned. They omit to say that the actual question presented to respondents was ‘if there was no other option should the project go ahead’.

The Independent reports that 8% of respondents say that Shell to Sea speak for all of the local community but fails to emphasise that an additional 35% say that the campaign speaks for a majority of local residents.

These serious breaches of editorial balance, combined with the omission of the critical finding that a majority back an off-shore processing raise serious questions of partiality. We call on RTE to publish the poll in its entirety and to explain why it jointly conducted a survey with a newspaper with a known bias on the Corrib gas issue.

Related Link: http://www.ireland.com
author by Anomie - "self-confessed anarchist" - Indopublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 15:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

59pc said they would behave the same way if they were in the protesters’ shoes.

author by Joepublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 15:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The bias becomes clearer when you start adding the figures and excluding don't knows, the following are shown even in what the Indo selects from the poll

1. Over 50% who expressed an opinion said the protesters speak for a majority of the local commmunity

2. Of those who expressed an opinion nearly 2:1 felt protests should go ahead.

The dishonesty of the presentation is clear in the pie chart where the 'don't knows' are oddly stuck in between those who think the protesters speak for all the locals, and those who think they speak for the majority - this prevents what would otherwise be an easy visual comparison of majority v minority. Indeed presumably the whole purpose of the silly 'speak for all' question was to allow the splitting off of some of the majority response. It's notable that this question was not balanced by a mirror 'Speak for no one' option.

Are the actual questions online? As presented they are obviously an Indo summary, you'd wonder what else would be obvious from seeing the full questions and indeed any additional ones which may not have been published.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 16:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The dishonesty of the presentation is clear in the pie chart where the 'don't knows' are oddly stuck in between those who think the protesters speak for all the locals, and those who think they speak for the majority - this prevents what would otherwise be an easy visual comparison of majority v minority.

But what's even more bizarre is the lack of standard, usual information that allows reasoned interpretation of the poll, e.g. how many people were sampled. Was it 5 people in a Garda station and "random" people selected from the PD membership telephone directory?

author by undercover belmullet mompublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 16:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What better way to gauge views of the people of Erris than to hold a plebisicite on Shell to Sea or not - if Dingle can do it for their name change then Erris should be allowed the same rights.

Surely this will show what the Erris Public supports?

Eamon O Cuiv respects the outcome in Dingle will Noel Dempsey respect an Erris poll??

author by Mark Cpublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 16:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Although talking about history and governments, I think the thoughts below by Howard Zinn can be applied to the published findings of the RTE / Indo survey.

"it takes some historical understanding to be skeptical of the things that authorities tell you; when you know history you know that governments lie, that governments lie all the time. Not just the American government, it's just in the nature of governments. They have to lie: governments in general do not represent the people of the societies that they govern, and since the don't represent the people in some sense they act against the interests of the people; they only way they can hold power is if they lie to the people if they told the truth they wouldn't last very long."

- Howard Zinn on DemocracyNow.org today.

Related Link: http://www.democracynow.org
author by John Kelly - CFSDpublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 17:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Perhaps a large picket and action at the licensed fee state broadcaster should be considered. RTE has a remit to present balanced coverage of events. We know that they do not often do this, this is especially so in this issue, that should not however deter us from demanding that they adehere to what is required of them.

The Constitution, at Article 40 ,"Fundamental Rights" section, promulgates that the "education of public opinion" .. is a matter of grave import to the common good". There is then, it would appear a constitutuional mandate not to distort information, suppress this and embellish that, we know it happens, but is it not well past the time we made them come under the "A" word, accountability ?it's badlly lacking and it's badly needed.

Solidarity

author by Indo Watcherpublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 19:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"But what's even more bizarre is the lack of standard, usual information that allows reasoned interpretation of the poll, e.g. how many people were sampled. Was it 5 people in a Garda station and "random" people selected from the PD membership telephone directory?"

The poll was conducted by Red C, thus it presumably used their methodology which you can find on their web page. The methodology itself looks mostly reasonable (although some of their claims are really just evidence free assertions and there are many aspects that wouldn't stand up to close scrutiny and the methodology is designed to measure voting intentions and not opinions, therefore it samples those most likely to vote).

The real problem here is that there is an enormous difference between the questions that were actually asked (as reported on primetime - which itself might be inaccurate) and the questions that were reported in the Indo. That is completely inexcusable and probably about as low as you can go. Whoever composed the story must have known that they were consciously fabricating data - there's no other way to put it. Ciaran Byrne, whose byline was on the story, was the same person who launched the bizzare juvenile attack on Indymedia and the Village some months ago. He was also recently appointed the chief of some sort of 'investigative' team in the Indo group. In reality this investigative role appears to be Tony O'Reilly's chosen hatchet man - he'll lie, fabricate, smear and would sell his fucking granny if the boys upstairs asked him to.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Fri Nov 24, 2006 20:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indeed I took a look at RedC's methodology page early on and they provide no published, peer-reviewed evidence to back up the claim that their method is valid. They appear to have two types of survey: national (sample size 1000) and constituency (sample size 500). They use telephone polling exclusively and then:
Quotas are then set on demographics such as age, sex, social class and region to ensure that the people we speak to are representative of all adults aged 18+, based on the very latest Census statistics. The final data is then also weighted to these demographic parameters as a final check to ensure the sample is entirely representative
http://www.redcresearch.ie/themethodology.html

The details of the above are where the devil lies. Until they specify in detail what population demographic model they're applying (is it a national one or one local to Mayo? what is it exactly?) then it's impossible to analyse their results. Their "methodology" page doesn't specify if they call at a particular time of day. Further, all the methodology page specifically talks about is how it applies to voter intention in political party voting. As you have noted their claims are largely evidence free. There may be truth to them but they provide no public way of verifying them so it just looks like market bumf for the ignorant.

Add to that that the naive reporting of this issue leads to the impression that e.g. 500 people were phoned randomly and the percentages mentioned in the piecharts are a simple percentage as opposed to one weighted by the unspecified model that Red C implies that they use.

All of that contributes the borderline mendacious retailing of the poll by (as you point out) Ciaran Byrne which I tried to address at the link below.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79850&comment_limit=0&condense_comments=false#comment177235
author by supppublication date Sat Nov 25, 2006 02:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Not only is there a significant difference between how we'd see the findings there was significant difference between how RTE and Indo presented them.

http://dynamic.rte.ie/av/230-2195095.smil

Who was that John Rowland guy by the way for the PEGG, is he the son of local politician or candidate for FF or FG?

author by supporterpublication date Sat Nov 25, 2006 13:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Trial me me fhein a claru ar agus ni lig se cead dom.Caithfidh me trial aris.Ta tu Ceart .Ba ceart nios mo rudai a beith ar politics.ie.

author by The Truthpublication date Sat Nov 25, 2006 18:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So Shell to Sea are now accusing RTE, the Indo, the SIndo, the Daily Mail, The Government, and Mayo COunty Council of ALL being wrong??? This time last year all of these papers were on your side - through unreasonable behaviour the media is finally portraying the story as it is.

Personally I don't think opinion polls add much to the debate. All sides have used them selectively but the facts remain that:

More people think Shell to Sea have behaved unreasonably than think Shell have behaved unreasonably

51% of people believe the current proposal should go ahead if it's not an option to change it - and Shell have made it clear no other option is feasible
Only 33% think it should not go ahead at all.

I hate to tell you this but we live in a democracy. In addition to this Mark Garavan was exposed on Prime Time as having, in the past, writen to the planning authorities, stating that the gas should be left under the sea. He is against the project - not the development option.

author by The Ruthpublication date Sat Nov 25, 2006 19:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors



Now there’s one I hadn’t heard before – apparently the Indo and the Sindo were fiercely in favour of the S2S campaign, before those nasty protesters alienated O’Reilly and co with their unreasonable behaviour.

I’m afraid you’ve revealed yourself to be living in a fantasy world, The Lies. The Indo/Sindo never backed the S2S campaign. They bowed to the wave of public opinion in sympathy with the Rossport 5 in 2005, but they never supported the goals of the campaign. They expected the people of Rossport to bow down in exchange for a few token concessions – when this didn’t happen, the Indo/Sindo turned viciously on them.

Quite apart from the problems with the methodology of this poll that have already been noted on this thread, it shows that an overwhelming majority do not want the project to go ahead as planned – they either want an off-shore terminal, or want the project stopped altogether. The majority of those who had an opinion believe that the S2S campaign speaks for the majority of local people. The overwhelming majority of those polled believe the protests should continue (this is split roughly fifty fifty between those who think the nature of the protests should be modified, and those who think they should carry on as before – this is a tactical question).

This, my friend, is indeed democracy. It speaks volumes that after an intense campaign of demonisation in sections of the media, based on shameless lies, after commissioning its own poll, the Indo still couldn’t get the results it wanted and had to doctor its poll findings.

Mark Garavan hasn’t been “exposed” by anyone. He speaks on behalf of the S2S campaign, not on behalf of himself. There is a perfectly legitimate argument that the gas should be left alone, for the time being anyway – but that is not the position of the S2S campaign, and that is not the argument he makes as the campaign spokesman.

Hope your PR company is doing well from the whole business mate!

author by Opinion Pollspublication date Sat Nov 25, 2006 23:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Statement: The Protesters are an intimidating presence which dissuades local people from publicly disagreeing with them.

Agree: 53%
Disagree 30%

Statement: The protesters are being manipulated by people from outside the area who want to cause trouble.

Agree: 52%
Disagree 35%

Question: Do you think the current protests at the refinery site should cease or continue?

Should cease: 32%
Should continue - but peacefully - without impeding worker access to site: 38%
Should continue including attempts to impede worker access: 14%

In other words only 1.4 people out of every ten asked support your stance of preventing people going to their lawful place of work. Read what you will into these but the FACTS speak for themselves.

author by shell to seapublication date Sun Nov 26, 2006 00:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Tá grúpa traspháirtí de Theachtaí Dála tar éis cur in iúl gur bhrúidiúil an dóigh ar láimhseáil Gardaí léirsiú de chuid an fheachtais, Shell Chun Sáile, níos luaithe an mhí seo.
Ag preasócáid inné, dúirt baill den Lucht Oibre, den Chomhaontas Glas agus de Shinn Féin, chomh maith le teachtaí neamhspleácha, gur chóir coimisiún neamhspleách a chur ar bun chun ceist phíblíne gáis na Coiribe a shocrú.
Dúirt baill den fheachtas gur ordaíodh do na Gardaí caitheamh go foréigneach leo agus iad i mbun agóide síochánta.
Dúirt ceannaire an Chomhaontais Ghlais, Trevor Seargent, inné, go raibh iompar na nGardaí ar 10 Samhain “scannalach”.
Thug Mark Garavan ón fheachtas Shell Chun Sáile le fios do Lá, inné, nach raibh aon athrú ar an chinneadh s’acu an lá dlúthpháirtíochta ar an Aoine a chur ar ceal, ach go mbeadh an feachtas féin ag méadú agus go mbeadh siad ag cur lena n-iarrachtaí leis an phobal a chur ar an eolas faoin phíblíne.
Gardaí ag léirsiú Shell Chun Sáile i Maigh Eo

Related Link: http://anghaeltacht.net/rosdumhach/index.html
author by Conamarapublication date Sun Nov 26, 2006 00:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ros Dumhach

shell  Chun saille
shell Chun saille

author by supppublication date Fri Dec 01, 2006 00:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I noticed in the ad for next week election special this guy with large photos of Enda and a focus group.

Sleazy pollster Fran Luntz must have been hired the Republican parties one time chief progandist who was central to encourage the right to create confusion about climate change to claim they wasn't scientific concensus on global warming. A claim he now refutes while GOP rolls on with carbon is good for you.

He uses focus groups and knobs with that people turn as the react to video of the candidates.
He did at poll at the last Labour party conference days after Reid made a fear monger speech on terror, his methods thrive on the 'we must do something' speechifying, kill burglars, castrate rapists, hang murderers you'll, batton protesters you'll see then knobs go wild. Does this type of polling like the poll above take into account the knowledge of the people by double checking whether they know what is their goingot get, what they actually voting for. NO. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1883662,....html

As serious polling, it was, according to Deborah Mattinson, the chief executive of Opinion Leader Research, "rubbish". She says she tested that "people meter" polling method for Labour 15 years ago. "It's very crude and you have no idea what they are approving or disapproving of. Of course the group went for the crowd-pleasing rhetoric. What's more, if you have cameras there, the loudest voices speak out and influence the rest."

They'll be lots of stuff on character little on facts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz

According to Salon.com, "In 1997, Luntz was formally reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research for his work polling on the GOP's 1994 'Contract with America' campaign document. Luntz told the media that everything in the contract had the support of at least 60 percent of the general public. Considering the elementary phrasing of that document (stop violent criminals, protect our kids, strong national defense), it seems almost laughably uncontroversial. But one of AAPOR's 1,400 members wasn't so amused, and filed a complaint requesting to see Luntz's research and a verification of the figure. Luntz's response? He couldn't reveal the information because of client confidentiality."[2]

ps RTE didn't use the one of the poll findings but they cut Mark Garavan disputing it during the debate for when it published inthe Indo the next day.

Im pretty sure it was him anyway?

author by Speedypublication date Wed Dec 06, 2006 15:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yesterday, The Irish Times mentioned the '70% back Corrib' fallacy in an article in its business section.

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