Herald non-story spin analysis

Headline:  40% want fireworks ban, poll finds

First Paragraph:  Almost 40 per cent of Kiwis want to see the sale of fireworks banned, but a small section of the community wish the selling period around Guy Fawkes was longer.

Body copy:  A Herald-Digi-Poll survey found 39.2 per cent of people want to ban the sale of fireworks, while 59.5 per cent are happy with the rules.

So 40% turns to “almost” 40% and ends up at 39.2%, which doesn’t even round to 40 to any normal person.

What’s wrong with:  39.2% want fireworks ban, poll finds, or, Almost 40% want fireworks ban, poll finds?

So by far the majority of respondents are happy with the status quo.  But that’s not going to be a story, so it is better to push the minority view.

How much of the minority view?  Let’s return to the first paragraph.  

Almost 40 per cent of Kiwis want to see the sale of fireworks banned, but a small section of the community wish the selling period around Guy Fawkes was longer.

“a small section of the community wish the selling period around Guy Fawkes was longer”.  After the inaccurate headline, the interest of the small section is worth pushing?

How small, exactly?

Just 0.8 per cent of people surveyed thought the sale period for fireworks should be increased to more than four days a year.

But 0.8% was enough of a point of view to push in the first paragraph.

I know it’s the silly season, but the Herald’s Anna Leask can do better than that.  Instead of leaving the reader with an impression that a fireworks ban is something that is really a hot issue with the public, all it does is mask the reality that 59.5% of poll respondents are happy with the current situation.  Or should I say, 60%?

The real story was missed:  Why is it that fireworks have been going off just about nightly since the start of November?  Should the use of fireworks be limited to one night a year?  Young families are trying to get some sleep, and some of us are living in a continuous enactment of a war zone.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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