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Club Bloggery 6: Jumping the Shark

We've now published the next instalment of our Club Bloggery series at ABC Online and on our Gatewatching group blog. After four long weeks of the election campaign proper, and many more months of pre-election scuffles, this time we couldn't hold back any more and finally decided to 'go' The Australian for its atrociously partisan and misleading coverage of the election. And from the comments the piece has received on the ABC site and elsewhere, it looks like we're not the only ones to think so... Kudos to the ABC subbies, who found the appropriate image to go with an article titled "Jumping the Shark"!

Jumping the Shark

By Jason Wilson, Axel Bruns, and Barry Saunders

Collectively, the writers here at Club Bloggery have been watching the Australian political blogosphere for years. We know that the bloggers who have perhaps been most important and prominent down under are psephologists - specialist electoral statisticians who try to understand and analyse polls, and consider the interlocking numbers games of electoral politics.

Head counters like the anonymous Possum Comitatus, Simon Jackman, William Bowe, and Peter Brent produce accessible, incisive, original takes on polling, and engage in prolonged discussion with their readers about the meaning and import of their analysis. Week after week, free of charge, they offer in-depth analysis on polling that improves our understanding of the political process and of how party strategists think. That's why we were surprised this week when a journalist in The Australian, Samantha Maiden, attacked a few psephs by name, implying that their sites amounted to little more than left-wing wish-fulfilment.

Perhaps our surprise was unwarranted. We've written before about how The Australian earlier this year attacked bloggers who pointed out that the newspaper's poll interpretations simply did not match the clear trends that the figures were describing. While the polls were showing a clear and obvious Rudd ascendancy, the Oz regularly predicted Government "bounces", "narrowings" and "recoveries" that have never quite materialised. "We understand Newspoll because we own it," trumpeted its editorial, embarrassing even Newspoll's own analysts.


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