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    Friday, 22 April 2011

    Bias in the news

    Apologies for yet more politics; normal-ish service will be resumed shortly, I hope.

    I've just put the following into the "BBC News website feedback" form, but I doubt it will have any impact. Quoting it here for the record...

    The BBC news website appears to be showing a systemic bias over the AV referendum. For the last few weeks, there has been regular coverage of the referendum and it seems that there has been the usual blind adherence to "balance" - every story about AV has included some of the (incorrect, unscientific, even hate-filled) propaganda from the "no to AV" campaign without critique or analysis. It's difficult to see any justification for this except deliberate editorial bias, but I don't imagine that there's much that can be done about that.

    However, right now on the BBC News front page at I can see that there is a link "Referendum views" that points to yet another opinion piece from a "No" campaigner (Frederick Forsyth). I only see a single view here, not the plural "views" suggested. I don't see any positive view for AV promoted from the front page at all, nor any link from this puff piece to the other articles that have been written in the recent past. Looking further, I can see that there *has*, in fact, been a positive piece on the News Front Page today (from Billy Bragg) but there are no visible links to it any more. Both articles were posted/updated at the same time this morning (22nd April, 08:34 BST) yet now only the negative one remains. Very shoddy, and not at all what I would expect from the BBC.

    23:24 :: # :: /misc/politics :: 11 comments


    Re: Bias in the news
    Anonymous wrote on Sat, 23 Apr 2011 02:06

    I strongly support the implementation of better voting systems than our existing first-past-the-post system. However, reviewing the description in the articles you linked to, it sounds like "AV" refers to a system substantially similar to instant runoff voting (IRV). If so, that would make it significantly *worse* than our existing system. IRV ignores all of a voter's preferences other than their first choice, until that voter's first choice gets eliminated. This makes IRV actively harmful to both third-party and major-party candidates. Most people voting for a third-party candidate also have a preference between the candidates from the two major parties. Ranking your preferred third-party candidate first (your sincere preferences) causes your preference between the major-party candidates to get ignored, potentially allowing your least-preferred candidate to win. (Precisely the same problem occurs with the first-past-the-post system, but at least then voters *know* that voting for a third-party candidate means they can't express a preference among the other candidates; IRV provides the illusion of a preference but then ignores that preference.)

    By contrast, approval voting and Condorcet both avoid that problem, along with various others. Condorcet seems closest to ideal, while approval voting proves much simpler to explain and preserves most of the good properties.


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