The bullet points in the telephoneÂ survey by theÂ marketing firm BrodeurÂ were impressive but the fine print undermined their authority. A press release about the survey said:
Journalists are increasingly active participants in the blogosphere: One in four reporters (27.7%) have their own blogs and nearly one in five (16.3%) have their own social networking page.
About half of reporters (47.5%) say they are â€œlurkersâ€ – reading blogs but rarely commenting.
Â Then I read to the last paragraph, in which readers are usually told how the information was gleaned:
“the online survey was conducted among a random sample of North American reporters and editors between December 18, 2007 and January 3, 2008. Some 4,000 reporters were invited via email to participate; a total of 178 completed responses.” (italics added)
If by random Brodeur meant “we don’t know who responded, why and how they differed from the vast majority of non-responders,” I would understand. But random in this case does not mean the sample has a scientific or statistical validity and so whatever its findings they should be taken as strong anecdotalism — there are 178 responses — but I would suspect they self-selected themself for inclusionÂ in ways that greatly make this survey not easy to extrapolate. I am a reporter like the 3,822 (add that toÂ 178 to get to theÂ 4000) people who were invited but declined to participate* and what peaked my interest in this headline was astonishment that anybody had actually taken an accurate reading of this group.
Â As it turns out, no one has, which makes the survey more useful as a suggestion than as a statistic.
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*Â (I don’t answer PR pollsÂ because theyÂ are generally intended to ascertainÂ my views toward news-makers; reporters are not supposed to have views or they areÂ expected toÂ stifleÂ any feelings they might have; I have occasionallyÂ been offered small sums, from $25 to $100, to answer questions but have always declined. I’m not suggesting the size of the bribe be higher; that would only make it more annoying to feel obliged to refuse.)