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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: Re: Re: Bias in the news
        Anonymous wrote on Sat, 23 Apr 2011 16:52

        I think you've missed my point. With IRV, ranking your preferred candidate first can cause you to get your least-preferred choice rather than your compromise choice. To use the three parties you mentioned as an example, if you want Green but you still prefer LibDem over Tory, then you order them [Green, LibDem, Tory]. Now, consider the two common cases. If Green continues to get too few votes to have a chance, then they get eliminated, and then your preference for LibDem counts and helps them beat Tory. However, you presumably voted for Green because you want them to *win*. If other Green voters also vote [Green, LibDem, Tory], then when you get enough Green voters, LibDem gets eliminated *before* Green; that only requires Green to get more first-place votes than LibDem, not more than Tory. The Tory can then still beat the Green. That result can occur even when a majority of voters preferred the LibDem over the Tory, because IRV ignores all of the preferences for LibDem over Tory except for the ones that rank LibDem first. Net result: because the Green voters voted sincerely and put their preferred candidate first, IRV eliminated the compromise candidate (their second choice) and left them with their least preferred candidate. So, the Green voters still end up having to vote tactically to avoid a bad result.


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