Our local CTV affiliate in Ottawa continues to post some of the most meaningless, inane questions on newscasts for viewers to vote on. Apparently, the less significant or black-and-white the issue, the greater its chance of being asked in a simplistic daily survey.
Here are examples illustrating this perspective, just from so far in July:
- Are mosquitos worse than usual this year? (Yes, our memories of summer pests are so accurate and not short-term focused)
- Is it hot enough for you? (What else is one usually going to feel in July?)
- Will you take advantage of extended lottery hours? (Many pros and cons with this issue to be sure)
- Is Canada in a recession? (Wait, let’s review our economic notes and check with the rest of the country)
- Who is a better Mayor, i.e. current Mayor of Ottawa vs. current Mayor of Toronto? (Unless the Mayors have equal experience on the job, which they don’t, and unless one has lived in both cities, how can one answer objectively?)
Perhaps the intention of the survey generators is really to have them be variations on an aphoristic definition of news – that if people want a story published it’s not news, but if they don’t then it is. The variation here is that since the survey question is seldom of newsworthy interest, therefore it’s news. One ‘truth’ at least: evidence doesn’t suggest the creation process is overly subtle.