We were very pleased with the coverage of our latest Panelbase poll on Monday’s edition of Scotland Tonight. A nice introductory package showed some lingering shots of our front page and logo, and the poll findings were used as a jump-off for an interesting debate between Dennis Canavan and Ian Davidson.
It takes more than a bit of flattery to make us take our eye off the ball, though.
Our more alert viewers won’t need to read any further. But if it’s a wee bit early in the morning for you, let us help you out with a smidgeon of deft picture-editing.
Apparently 37 is more than five times as big a number as 17 now. (5 x 17 is 85.)
And seemingly 37 plus 17 (54) is now a smaller number than 45.
This sort of thing really isn’t on. Graphics editors will doubtless say “Oh, but we have to exaggerate things to make it visually clear!” But that’s not making the reality clear, is it? That’s distorting the reality so that it presents a quite drastically untrue picture of the relative population shares, and in particular the size of the undecided vote that’s up for grabs – especially bad when it’s the specific topic of the discussion.
It doesn’t have to be motivated by malice. We’re not saying STV’s graphics team are dastardly evil Unionists. It could just be that they’re horribly misguided, or presented a massively skewed impression through honest human error. But it still won’t do.
Above is how the graph SHOULD have looked, with the bars in the correct proportions. It creates a rather different feeling about how much the outcome is up for grabs, doesn’t it? It’s not confusing or anything. Most of the change happens in the blue bar on the right, where there was lots of quiet space.
So much so, in fact, that we’ve got plenty of room to show what 37 plus 17 actually looks like, were we to add the undecided voters to the Yes ones. Which makes the graph pretty eye-catching, by showing just how much is at stake as the two sides fight over the Don’t Knows who’ll ultimately determine Scotland’s future.
So why not do it that way? Why get it wrong for no good reason? Was the normal graphics person off sick or something, and they had to just grab the first guy passing the Glasgow STV studio to cobble a barchart together at short notice?
Don’t give up the day job, Ally.