More Lazy MSM Reporting â€“ Figure Donâ€™t Lie, But Liars can Figure
By: Warner Todd Huston
As we point out on a daily basis, the MSM is heavily left leaning and biased. But this isn’t the MSM’s only failing. They are also extremely lazy. Leftist or not, and take little time to really think about the news nor do any research about what they are reporting. Take this UPI report for instance: “Political videos not reaching Web viewers.” In this one, the UPI is claiming that political video on the web isn’t “reaching Web viewers” and that it isn’t the “ideal way” for candidates to reach voters, but the story itself does not satisfactorily prove such a conclusion at all. When compared to the percentage of actual voting adults, for instance, the penetration might be quite favorable toward political videos reaching those they are aimed at. So, why report it as a negative? Because they neither employed reason nor research while writing their article, that’s why.
UPI claims the following:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Just over one-third of U.S. adults who have watched online video report watching a political video, a Harris Poll found.
The survey suggests online video is not an ideal way for political candidates to reach voters. However, that 35 percent figure represents millions of people.
While “one-third” of America’s adult population seems low, when we take a more full view of the statistics, we see that it isn’t as bad as it seems but we also see that this poll isn’t much help in making any determination as to whether or not political ads on the Internet are effective.
For one thing, only 73% of our adult population has internet connection in the first place according to a Pew Research finding (Download PDF file here). Now, according to the U.S. Census Bureau there are about 220 million adults in the U.S. so that means that of that 220 million, about 165 million some Americans have internet connection. One third of that 165 million, then, means that around 55 million or so adults are watching video with political content on the Internet.
55 million is a whole bunch o’folks, sure, but what does that mean to actual votes cast and are Internet videos actually making a difference in politics? There certainly is no way to know that from this report.
Let’s take a quick look at the voting stats.
Voting age Americans number at the same 220 million adults (as all adults are of voting age), but of that 220 million, only 175 million bothered to register. And of that adult population only 55% bothered to vote in the last presidential election.
Now, with those stats in mind, what exactly did the Harris Poll mean? Are these political videos reaching one third of the actual voters, or one third of all adults? If the former then one third would have far different import than if the later. If one third of actual voters are being reached by these videos it would be far more important than if they were only reaching one-third of the entire adult U.S. population — many of whom are not going to bother to vote. How many actual voters are on-line? How many actual voters viewed these ads? Neither this story nor the Harris poll helps us answer these questions.
So, since we have from this report no real information as to whom these political videos on the Internet are really reaching, how is it that this article can state as fact that political video is “not reaching” viewers as if such methods of advertising a candidate are somehow ineffective? All adult viewers on the Internet are not voters and, that being the case, shouldn’t the research to determine the effectiveness of these ads be geared toward people who will actually vote before a determination is made as to whether or not it is “an ideal way” to reach voters?
Since political video on the Internet has only been around since about 2003, just before that last presidential election in 2004, the medium is very new to the political scene. I think a more effective poll would be to find out how many Americans even know that there are political videos on the Internet in the first place? It wouldn’t be surprising if the preponderance of voting Americans weren’t quite cognizant that political video on the Internet exists. Or if they are aware of it, it hasn’t been around long enough to have penetrated the minds and habits of voters who are determining for whom they will vote. So maybe political video on the Internet isn’t “ideal” at that.
Whatever the case, both the Harris poll and the UPI story in no way confirms the truth that political video on the Internet is “not ideal” for candidates to utilize to reach the voters. There just isn’t enough info there to make such a conclusion. Nor, most especially, does this story help us make any sense about the future of political advertising on the Internet.
Lastly, I’d like to point out something that was interesting in the UPI report as it recounted the Harris findings.
Democrats were more likely than Republicans to watch political videos, and were also more likely to use them to decide whom to support. Republicans were more likely to watch video of candidates they know they do not support.
If true, this little bit of info shows that Democrats are less likely than Republicans to do any substantive research on their candidates if they are more apt to use a mere campaign video as a means to evaluate a candidate! Fascinating that Democrats are so shallow that a campaign video is enough for them to use as a source to “decide whom to support,” isn’t it?
Anyway, this UPI report is shallow, misleading, and not very meaningful. But it is typical of much of the pabulum pawned off as informative journalism these days.