Monday, September 25, 2006

Daily Times gets it wrong - again

The Daily Times just doesn't get it. The National Perception Survey 2006 conducted by Transparency International was picked up by Daily Times journalist, Khalid Hasan, who claimed that the survey showed that Pakistanis considered the post-2002 Musharraf government to be the most corrupt of any government since the end of Zia's regime. This was wrong; I blogged on the Daily Times report the day it appeared, but when I sat down to peruse the the 75 page survey I caught the Daily Times' error and fired off this missive to the Daily Times:

Cyril Almeida
Dear Sir,

This is with reference to Khalid Hasan's report on the National
Corruption Perception Survey 2006 conducted by Transparency
International and the subsequent editorial on the subject in your

Both Mr. Hasan and the editorial make the claim that the NCPS suggests
that Pakistanis view the present Musharraf government to be the most
corrupt of all governments, civilian and military led, since the late
1980s. This is simply not true. A glance at page 30 of the NCPS report
shows that respondents were asked to compare only the four civilian
governments of the 90s and then, separately, asked to compare the
pre-2002 and post-2002 governments of Gen. Musharraf. The survey
merely tells us that of the four civilian governments, Ms. Bhutto's
second government was considered the most corrupt and of the two
Musharraf governments, the post-2002 government is more corrupt than
the one that preceded it. To claim that the post-2002 Musharraf
government is perceived as more corrupt than the second government of
Ms. Bhutto is disingenuous as respondents were not asked to compare
the two.

Surveys are notoriously difficult to interpret, but in this instance
the conclusions are plainly wrong.

Cyril Almeida.

Daily Times and other newspapers received a clarification from Transparency International Pakistan itself, expressing exactly the same opinion on the interpretation of the NCPS 2006. What was Daily Time's reaction? A preposterous editorial suggesting that dark powers were at work to force TI to contradict the findings of it's own survey.

Two questions arise. Why should the TI office in Islamabad rise in defence of the present regime by trying to obfuscate the conclusions of its own survey? More intriguingly, why didn’t any of the other newspapers of Pakistan carry the results of the survey like we did even though they were quick to carry the clarification? Something is clearly rotten somewhere. Did this government lean on the local office of TI to issue a pathetic clarification? Does TI’s head-office know about this and approve of it? Did this government lean on the other papers not to carry the original story because it was so embarrassing?

No, sir. You, the editors of the Daily Times, got it wrong on the first instance, and now are compounding the original error with chutzpah unbecoming of a serious news organisation. Shame on you, Daily Times!

To recapitulate the disputed aspect of the NCPS 2006:

Respondents were asked two separate questions : firstly, of the four civilian governments since the late-80s which was the most corrupt? And secondly, which of the pre- and post- election Musharraf governments has been more corrupt?

So when the Daily Times wrote in its latest editorial "(the statistics) prove one evident comparative fact. On both counts of first and second term, more Pakistanis thought the Musharraf regime to be corrupt than did those for the Bhutto and Sharif governments" the newspaper itself is guilty of obfuscation. Of course, in absolute terms more Pakistanis would think either of the Musharraf governments were more than the four civilian governments. When given four options the statistical spread is likely to be greater than when given only two. The Daily Times has fallen into the age-old trap of comparing oranges and apples.


Teeth Maestro said...

Hey thank you for the actual analysis of the situation. First I read, I thought the people were simply idiots to forget the corruption of yesteryear's and only consider the present regime to be the wicked of the lot. I don't mean to defend Musharraf but we all know that Pakistanis generally have a very short term memory.

Thank you for the detailed explanation

GM said...

Well pointed out Cyril. I myself was shocked and dismayed because I'm generally a loyal reader of the Daily Times and Friday Times, and usually don't expect such b-grade editorials by Mr. Sethi. Well I guess this gaffe didn't pass unnoticed...

IllusionFS said...

I dont consider DT as a very trustable akhbar anyways.. Just like the pictures of celebs on Sunday lol.