Monday, July 31, 2006

Poll catching

Catching on in the net-happy world of the print media is the unabashed use of highly unscientific online polls, which often amount to little more than a gimmick, given their highly unreliable nature. Gimmick, on the other hand, is a major understatement for the abomination that The Saratogian tries to pawn off as a poll.

Were there actually an intelligent poll question worth answering, the device could be a fairly good litmus test for an editorial writer looking to see how contentious a given subject is among the public. When several thousand people hit the poll in the first moments its up, then that’s a sure fire indication of a strong issue that should be expounded.

But showing their typical colors, Saratogian editors use the poll as away to be cute and catchy. Given some of the questions –like Thursday’s gem: what would you do for a Todd Pletcher bobble head doll –it’s a far cry to even give the questions that much credit. Better yet, today’s beauty: Do you wish you had your own island? Gee, let me think about that Sherlock.

On a side note, 39 percent of the 43 online readers that took the aforementioned poll actually couldn’t dream of owning their own island, which is a sad commentary about the imaginative capacities of some.

Regardless, here’s some poll advice for the bustling e-board at The Saratogian, which in truth is nothing more than prancing editor Barbara Lombardo and desk jockey Connie Jenkins.

First, try asking your staff what a good poll question might be; they work in the trenches and probably have a better idea of what’s actually important in the grand scheme of news. And given the already lacking editorial page, there’s an obvious disconnect between them and the city. Second, try leaving the poll up for more than 24 hours, maybe instead keeping the same question for a full week so that more than 50 people can give it a read. Lastly, do something —anything –with the results.

Then again, if mindless tripe like “are you going to the race track this season” is an overriding example of a thought-out poll, then maybe not posting a poll at all would be a better idea. At least then, people would need to read the paper to realize how much of a joke it actually is.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say spice up the poll questions a bit. What would you do...for a Ron Jeremy Bobble "head" doll? Are you planning on attending any races this summer...sober? Do you wish you had your own see what life is like without Stewart's? You know, questions that real people are thinking about.

3:51 PM  

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