THE MARVEL OF THE INTERNET….The internet is truly a marvelous thing. (Yes, I know you knew that.) Consider:

  • Via Jim Miller, I learn of a Guardian report that trust in the BBC has plummeted from 92% to 59% thanks to the current row over the “sexed up” dossier. I would never have learned this if not for Jim’s blog, and I also wouldn’t have been able to read the story in the Guardian if not for the internet.

  • But the internet also allows me to quickly find the original sources for the Guardian’s claim.

  • The first quoted survey, from October 2002, is part of a lengthy media study by a professor at Cardiff University that asks, in general, “Whom do you trust to tell the truth?” BBC1 television garners a 92% score while BBC Radio 1 garners a 38% score.

  • The second quoted survey, a recent MORI poll, asks, “In general would you describe each of the following as trustworthy or not?” It is specifically addressed toward the “sexed up” controversy and “The BBC” scores 59%.

  • But is that BBC television or BBC radio? That’s pretty important since (a) the October survey shows that they receive rather dramatically different ratings and (b) the BBC reporter at the center of the controversy is a radio reporter.

So: two completely different surveys, asking quite different questions, with the second one not specifying who the respondents consider trustworthy: BBC television, BBC radio, BBC management, or the general institution of the BBC itself. In other words, the surveys are not at all comparable. While it’s possible that trust in the BBC has indeed fallen recently, you certainly can’t tell one way or the other from the surveys the Guardian is comparing.

Final lesson: I wouldn’t have known this without the internet. But I also wouldn’t have known it was untrue without the internet. In the end, half an hour of time on the internet has advanced my knowledge of the world by precisely zero.

Raise your hand if this surprises you.