November 24

Sun Herald Royal Poll: What does it mean?


After the concert given by the Berlin Philharmonic at the Opera House in Sydney last Saturday night, the crowds surging out were confronted by a company of charming young ladies offering large designer plastic bags.  

Each young lady supported her gifts with open arms, suggesting she was about to place some exquisite offering of, say, European tapestries on a table.

But back to the Opera House.

Asked what hers was, the young lady who approached us said "It’s the Sun Herald.”

The revelation that the gift was a copy of the Sun Herald provoked no excitement whatsoever; in fact quite the contrary. The groans were quite audible. 

Presumably no one wanted to be seen – nor was to be seen – descending the grand staircase clutching a …Sunday tabloid.  

My reason for not taking one was that it would be delivered in the morning – with the Sunday Telegraph; why be encumbered with the Sun Herald over supper?

A mischievous person would have said: "They can’t even give them away."

This can happen to newspapers. I remember years ago on a Sunday morning in a busy town in the Cotswalds seeing  piles of Observers  – the Sunday Guardian – for the taking.  But nobody seemed to be interested.

…why do they look down on  their home subscribers?…

It would seem that some newspapers consider those who actually pay to have their papers delivered to their homes to be not worth looking after. If they give something away – something useful like a DVD offering a crash course in  Mongolian – you have to go to the newsagent.

The Herald in Sydney almost seems to look down on its home subscribers who would be overwhelmingly conservative. This is the only explanation for filling its letters and opinion pages with material from inner city radicals.

Over the years a large number of people have told me this is why they have stopped reading the Herald. 

In any event on the Sunday morning, while perusing my delivered Sun Herald (21/11), I found the large table reproduced above on one of the news pages.  

The survey also says that  68% of those surveyed believe Australia should become a republic, that is a politicians' republic.

…the context…

The table was published beside an interesting report on the royal marriage and its implications by Tim Barlass "Big hopes for crown's new jewel”.

The table would not have been  the work of the journalist. It was  probably inserted by the sub editor. Incidentally, you won't find this table online- it was only put in the print edition.

That was surely not to irritate those monarchists who actually pay for the newspaper, was it?

The survey is not an opinion poll. If you read the small print at the bottom, you might think they surveyed a sample of the readers. No it wasn't that either. 

…opinion polls…  


  An opinion poll is  a survey of public opinion from a sample designed to represent the opinions of a population. Much depends on the selection of the sample, its size and the wording used in the question.  A sample of 1000 will normally produce a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

An opinion poll on  constitutional change  not specifying a republican model , or using the term head of state, is of very limited utility in predicting voting in a referendum.

…the Herald survey..

This was not a survey or poll of Herald readers. It was a survey of one thousand self selected readers of The Sun Herald and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Of those readers,  68%  say  Austalia should become a republic, and 56% say Australia should become a republic as soon as possible, is not of course an opinion poll.

It tells us no more than the views of one thousand self selected readers of two Sydney newspapers.

…the Herald's 'exclusive online reader panel'…


[Continued below]


"SMH Insider" is described by the newspaers as an exclusive online reader panel made up of a select group of people who are readers of The Sydney Morning Herald or The Sun-Herald newspapers.

 SMH Insider has its own website.

To join you do not need to subscribe. You don’t even have to buy the papers. Apart  from getting them for nothing  at the Opera House- I have seen piles of SMH's at the ticket windows – or you can read them  online.

And as  a member of The SMH Insider you’ll get to: 

• provide your opinions on the content and layout of our newspapers

• take part in polls (e.g. current affairs, entertainment, etc.)

• voice your ideas on different topics in the newspapers.

But be warned. Tp join The SMH Insider you have to complete the inevitable survey. Called a  'profiling survey',  it is no doubt the sort of survey everyone loathes completing and wonders about giving such information even if it is not a tabloid.  (Well alright , it is now a demi- tabloid, which curiously seems to reduce the impact of both the letters page and Mike Carlton on a Saturday.)

There is of course an incentive for having to filling in this wretched survey. 

If you  complete 'the entire survey '– note the ominous  use of the word ’entire’ – your name is then entered into a draw for a chance to win $1,000. 



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