Sunday, July 11, 2010

Survey Says: Not Very Much!

So you're a journalist. It's a lazy Saturday night in Ottawa. It's humid, thunder storms hover over the region, and you're trying to get an article sent off for the Sunday edition of the Ottawa Citizen so you can head off to see Metric at Bluesfest.

A survey lands in your inbox saying the following:

-44% agree that people should not be convicted of crimes if their mental competency prevented them from knowing what they were doing or that it was wrong.
-37.9% disagree with the statement that people should not be convicted.
-18% neither agree nor disagree.

So, what headline do you come up with?

Probably not this:

"Survey Says: Do the Crime, Do the Time.
Four in 10 Canadians believe mental incompetence shouldn't prevent guilty verdicts


  1. Yikes. That's pretty ridiculous. You could probably say that Canadians are pretty evenly split, but to skew the implications that much is pretty crummy journalism.

  2. I also love seeing how statistics are reported on. Want to imply that Canadians are getting "tough" on crime? Then it's 4-in-ten, two-fifths, or almost half, but not 40%.

  3. Yeah, and let's not forget this little nugget buried half way down the story:

    "At the same time, more than three-quarters agree that it's important for the courts to consider the mental competency of people charged with a crime when the crime was committed.

    "And nearly as many agree that in passing sentence, it's important to consider what the perpetrator's mental health was at the time of the crime."

    Maybe the real story is that people don't know what the hell they actually want.