Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bloggers outduel TV network giants

The most heated media-debate in U.S. post-election discussions is that of an agreement among the large media cooperations (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox, and the Associated Press) not to release the exit-polls to the public in order to prevent false predictions for the presidential elections. The bloggers (Slate, Drudge, Zogby, The Command Post), trying to counter this attempt, have ignored the agreement and published leaked exit-poll data prematurely. Debates now circle around the issue. Pressetext.austria has published a commentary on the role of blogs during the U.S. elections. A study of the IT-company Cnet shows that betting bureaus have predicted the outcome of the American elections with much higher probabilities than the blogs, which the media had set their hopes on. In the blogging sector the victory of Kerry was even illustrated with data and links to other websites, which turned out to be irrelevant. Pressetext.austria concludes that this faulty prediction shows the subjective character of blogs: "finally it became clear that Blogs only reflect amateur interpretations [...] and do not have the same status as politics journals and news magazines". The Boston Globe explains the position of the Bloggers further: "Some of [the blogs] cautioned readers not to make too much of the information. The Command Post delivered the news under the headline "Grain of Salt." Drudge removed the numbers almost as quickly as they were posted. And Slate warned: "these early exit poll numbers do not divine the name of the winner." Jack Shafer, editor of Slate, defends his position as follows: "Publishing the exit-poll numbers may look like a college prank, but our intent was loftier. We wanted to expose the hypocrisy of networks that simultaneously embargoed the exit-poll data and broadcast its essence. Slate believed that readers should be trusted with the secrets of the journalistic temple, especially if newscasters were going to pantomime from them so cavalierly [...] The good thing about today's uproar [concerning inaccurate poll information] is that it's accelerating the much-needed demystification of exit polls. Readers and viewers are asking the news organizations (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox, and the Associated Press) that own the outfit that produces the exit-poll data, the National Election Pool, questions about how the polls are conducted, how they're used, how accurate they are, and the need for keeping them officially secret on election night even though newscasters blithely lift from them". According to the New York Times, the new $10 million polling system has been developed specifically for the purpose of the 2004 elections. The National Election Pool, which owns the system does not take responsibility for the faulty results published on the blogs, they informed the media they had contracted and say they cannot be held responsible for leaked data.

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