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Indecisive News

The BBC has been wording its headlines in terms of questions more and more lately (or maybe I've just been noticing it more lately). I know its purpose is to engage its readers, to make them wonder, "Is Healthcare at risk?" or "Will Kyoto make a difference?".

But that's not why I read the news: I read the news to find out what's actually happening in the world. Looking through the BBC's Entertainment news section, I don't see a single question asked by today's headlines. The Beeb is decisive that Will Smith definitely will be hosting an Aids Benefit, and that Star Trek fans really are fighting to save a show. For some reason, it's easier to be assertive on the subject of movie stars and t.v. shows than it is on things like greenhouse gas, politically sensitive issues.

And so I would like to submit a handful of today's BBC headlines to you and have a more decisive answer to each. The questions are copy/pasted from the BBC's various news pages. The linked articles don't necessarily have the same headline as the summary version, and you don't need to read them.

I'm not looking for right or wrong answers - I'm looking for decisiveness. Just pick something. It's more than the BBC is doing.

Are online video games harmless fun or dangerously addictive?

Harmless fun
13(54.2%)
Dangerously addictive
11(45.8%)

How easy is it to use your computer to catch a burglar? (1 is Really Easy, 10 is Really Hard)

Mean: 6.04 Median: 6.5 Std. Dev 2.92
1
3(12.5%)
2
1(4.2%)
3
1(4.2%)
4
2(8.3%)
5
4(16.7%)
6
1(4.2%)
7
1(4.2%)
8
7(29.2%)
9
0(0.0%)
10
4(16.7%)

Does England support the London bid? (Olympic bid, that is)

Yes
11(45.8%)
No
13(54.2%)

Fashion Victim?

Yes
14(58.3%)
No
10(41.7%)

Will they still eat chips?

Yes
22(91.7%)
No
2(8.3%)

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
kashmera
Feb. 18th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC)
Choices, choices...
That's tricky. I kept wanting to say 'it depends...'
owlfish
Feb. 18th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Choices, choices...
No relative perspectives! No contextualized answers! I want commitment from my headlines, even if I disagree with them.

And anyways, what kind of a headline is "Fashion victim?" when it's not shown with a picture or other context? It's uninformative.
kashmera
Feb. 18th, 2005 07:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Choices, choices...
Even though I'd read the article before I couldn't remember what it was about - which just shows how 'blah' it was.

I decided for each question to put it into a specific context because otherwise I couldn't answer it. So:
#1 and #4 - me
#2 - non-geeks
#3 - the UK in general
#5 - schoolkids in a western society

That was my way of being decisive - otherwise I could just have been random...
owlfish
Feb. 18th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Choices, choices...
Your professional ethics are getting in the way of dividing the world up into black-and-white answers. But I appreciate your honesty.
kashmera
Feb. 18th, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC)
Well, if you're talking ethics
I was about to write a reply on behavioural statistics (something I'm involved in a lot right now), but decided that I'm working too hard and that wasn't really the point...
owlfish
Feb. 18th, 2005 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Well, if you're talking ethics
I'd be quite interested it in reading it, if you do ever decide to write it up. Don't make extra work for yourself. In every other context, I am much more interested in the grey areas of these sorts of things. But if the answer's grey, I don't want the news offering a b+w question to define the subject.
kashmera
Feb. 18th, 2005 07:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Choices, choices...
Except the one about chips - that was obvious.
lemur_catta
Feb. 18th, 2005 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Choices, choices...
I said no just to be contrary
owlfish
Feb. 18th, 2005 11:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Choices, choices...
I was wondering if it would be a 100 percent sweep.
tisiphone
Feb. 18th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC)
We didn't have a "both" option!
owlfish
Feb. 18th, 2005 08:51 pm (UTC)
The BBC headline specified "or".
sioneva
Feb. 19th, 2005 08:59 am (UTC)
I confess to feeling a bit disappointed in the Beeb recently myself--I feel as if they're really dumbing down the quality of their reporting/programming to compete with such *stunning* news programmes as ITV/Granada and Channel 5.

And if they're not asking questions, they're ranting about the epidemic of childhood obesity. I don't think they let a week go by without harping on it.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )