“Several polls are showing that the majority of Georgians are in favor of this amendment that would allow this commission.”
Duffie Dixon, a reporter with 11Alive News in Atlanta, made that blanket statement last week while reporting on a confrontation that took place at the State Capitol during a press conference on the charter schools amendment, which is on the ballot for the November general election.
Taken at face value, which most people who saw her report probably did, the thought would be that approval of the charter schools amendment is pretty much a done deal, especially since, as she stated, “…the majority of Georgians are in favor…” But her statement is far from the truth and shows a bias by either Ms. Dixon or 11Alive News in favor of the amendment. Here are the real facts, which she conveniently neglected to include in her report.
Fact: According to the U. S. Census, in 2011, there were an estimated 9,815,210 people living in Georgia. A “majority” of them would be 4,907,606 people.
Fact: According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, as of March 1, 2012, there were 5,804,812 registered voters in Georgia. A “majority” of them would be 2,920,407 voters.
Fact: I checked online for polls related to the charter school amendment . There have been a total of two. If I really wanted to get nitpicky about this, “several” is defined as being more than two or three, so Ms. Dixon should have said “two” or “a couple” of polls, rather than implying that more than two or three polls have been taken on this issue. But I’m not being that nitpicky, so I’ll give her a bye on that one.
Fact: Of those two polls, one polled 600 people and found 58 percent of them, about 348 people, were in favor of the charter school amendment. The other poll asked 1,331 people and found that 50 percent, or 665.5 people (I’ve never figured out half a person, but they keep getting mentioned) are in favor.
Fact: Neither 348 or 665.5 people are anywhere near a “majority of Georgians,” nor are they even a “majority” of registered voters. In fact, 665.5 people is less than 1 percent of the total number of residents, and just over 1 percent of registered voters.
Yet Ms. Dixon reports that those 665.5 people are a “majority of Georgians.” And just so you understand this is not a personal vendetta against Duffie Dixon, the Athens-Banner Herald and the Times-Herald in Newnan both ran a story by Walter C. Jones of Morris News Service claiming the same thing, that a “majority of Georgians” are in favor of the amendment, based on one of the two polls I mentioned.
I’m not completely opposed to news organizations having their own agendas of what they want to pass or not pass. But part of me rebels against it, because how can we fairly report both sides of a subject if we’ve already decided in favor of one side? I think that is what’s really bugging me about them reporting that the “majority of Georgians” are in favor. If they had said the “majority of those polled” were in favor, then I wouldn’t have a problem. But to state it the way they have shows their bias on this issue and shows that they cannot be trusted to bring us the news we need in order to make our own decisions based on the facts.