Rush to judge turns embarrassing

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, June 2nd, 2010 - 18 comments
Categories: budget 2010, Media, polls, spin - Tags:

The Budget is turning into something of an embarrassment for the media. Even before it had been released, the journos in their lock-up had written pieces proclaiming it a hugely popular success. The evidence suggests that they got it wrong. The people think they’ll be worse off. Journos need to re-assess their tendency to judge public opinion before the public’s opinion has even had a chance to form, let alone been sampled.

John Armstrong is most obviously caught out. The Saturday after the Budget he wrote:

“[The Budget bears] the indelible hallmark of John Key. It is the imprint of the risk-taker prepared to up the stakes considerably in order to secure an even bigger payout when he wins.

The gamble seems to have paid off – at least so far. Although highly unscientific, a TV One-Close Up poll on Thursday night provided a thumping endorsement of National’s tax package and other measures unveiled that afternoon.

That result was replicated in a similarly unscientific Herald online poll yesterday with those considering the Budget a winner running at nearly three to one. It is unusual for modern Budgets to capture the public’s attention in the way this one has”

Then, just ten days later, without irony wrote:

“Voters’ love affair with PM cools: Perhaps the only surprise in National shedding a hefty five percentage points in the latest opinion poll is that the drop in support for the governing party was not even greater…

The Morgan poll results also suggest the Budget has not (yet) paid the dividend National had hoped. Further results last night from the One News poll may explain why.

Respondents generally did not believe the tax cuts would make them better off”

Where’s a memory-hole when you need one?

18 comments on “Rush to judge turns embarrassing”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The colours of the journos and their blind ideological support of NACT are starting to come to the surface now. But I’m not expecting this to improve our journalism any time in the near future. They’ll keep spouting the NACT = good, Labour = bad meme.

  2. Croc 2

    Not like you would ever rush to judge eh Marty?

    • Bright Red 2.1

      The problem isn’t with them forming personal judgements and expresing them. It’s with deciding what the public thinks without asking the public first.

      captcha: trusted

      • Croc 2.1.1

        Do you think this site would ever write a positive review of a National budget?

        • Lanthanide

          If it was a good budget, yes. What’s your point?

        • Pascal's bookie

          Why hold Marty G to the same standards as John Armstrong? Is JA a blogger on an openly partisan blog? Or is MG a senior press gallery journo?

          What’s your point here, croc? Coz you didn’t address BR’s point at all.

  3. randal 3

    how long will it take to sink in that the msm in new zealand is a claque of tame pussycats who had their claws drawn in playschool.
    they all think they are on the trail of the big scoop/story but all they produce is a regurgitation of the pap they have have been swilling on all their lives.

  4. uke 4

    Maybe a quite special delusion sets in when you become a high-profile commentator. You acquire mystical powers of discerning what is in everybody’s minds. Even 4 million people at once. Just standing on Lambton Quay with your finger in the air you pick up “vibes”, a “buzz”.

    Really it’s just the commentators buzzing back and forth at each other in their funny little world.

  5. PK 5

    ***The people think they’ll be worse off.***

    Is there a poll on the budget you’re referring too?

  6. Evidence-Based Practice 6

    I think it is because the journalists and commentators at that level are on quite high incomes (comparative to the median income of around $30,000) but think they are the norm, so assume that what intially sounds beneficial to them personally will also sound beneficial to everyone else. I don’t think they can understand what surviving on a benefit or the minimum wage is actually like on a daily basis.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      I think it’s slightly more nuanced than that. They think the the average wage figure of $48k thrown around by the Nats means “about half the public are on that wage”, so a budget that has a rabbit of bigger-than-expected gains for those “average” people seems like something wondrous to them and they’re sure that the public are going to be receptive of it. Especially when the budget also threw a bone to the more wealthy landlords who only escaped with the depreciation shtick and not ring-fencing or any kind of capital gains tax.

      What they missed out on is that “average” is not the same as “median”, and they never pull up the Nats on it either, so I assume they simply don’t know the difference. This was clear a few weeks back when a story written in the Herald about CEOs salaries repeatedly used the term “average” when the guy who did the research was on National Radio in the morning saying “median”.

      • Craig 6.1.1


        Actually, the median IS an average. Just as the mean and mode are averages as well. They are all statistical measures of where the distributions lies.

        I think what you are trying to say is that people tend to think of the ‘mean’ when they say average.

        And I agree, it is a shocker that people don’t know the difference and that it leads to incorrect inferences.

  7. JacksSmirkingRevenge 7

    I agree. Tax cuts good, GST increase bad.

  8. tc 8

    We don’t have a media in NZ just mediums of message delivery (print/radio/tv/web) mostly owned offshore with agendas not aligned with the bulk of NZ’ers.

    John Armstrong in particular could give over his next few pieces with publish dates on them he’s so pre-conceived and as such has no credibility…..they wonder why old media’s in decline it’s simple……there’s nothing of interest/intelligence much anymore…….just the likes of Woodham etc

    • Hanswurst 8.1

      Erm… what the hell are you on about? You are aware that media is the plural of medium, right? So “a media” is just a case of incorrect grammar, while “mediums” = “media”; all you have done with your first assertion is misspell “media of message delivery”, which is just a roundabout way of saying “media”.

      • felix 8.1.1

        tc’s first and third instances of the word “media” are (quite obviously) intended to mean “fourth estate” which is a very common and perfectly acceptable way to use the word.

        Awesome grammar-pedant skillz though. The force is strong in this one.

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