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Perspective: Not a reflection of the entire community

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

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Recently, a couple of poll questions that appeared on The Brazil Times' website disturbed several readers.

They disturbed those in The Times' office as well.

Take for example a recent online poll asking readers if they planned on attending the 2008 Clay County 4-H Fair.

Was the intent to degrade the event by placing a poll on the website asking if readers were going to attend the weeklong event? No.

Should The Times' staff have added another answer to the poll? Yes. It should be noted that not only parents with children involved in 4-H will attend the fair.

Simply put, the poll question was ill timed and the chosen headline for the story was inappropriate.

The Times' editorial staff enjoys spending the week at the fairgrounds, taking pictures of youngsters, etc. It's a fun time for all. We hope for record crowds. We hope to take tons of pictures of children proudly displaying their work.

The Clay County Fair is, after all, for children. It's about their accomplishments as they show off the hard work they've put into project after project.

The 4-H Fair is about all the hard work being put in by all the people working at the Clay County Extension Office, sacrificing days of sleep in order to make sure everything flows smoothly.

The 4-H Fair is about community and the smiles on parents' faces when their child wins that ribbon and the satisfaction the child earns from all their hard work.

A fair brings communities together.

That's what makes a fair worth covering. Seeing a community come together for a week of pure enjoyment.


Comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on thebraziltimes.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Community events like fairs and festivals are usually popular regardless of what the online poll says. Some local events, like the K-Day Parade, could benefit from more advertising, but regardless, each receives adequate community support.

The most important thing to note is that the polls on the website are NOT scientific because they do not represent a valid sample of any population except "visitors to thebraziltimes.com who choose to participate in the poll." In fact, a voter does not have to live in Brazil or Clay County to vote and he or she can vote more than once!

While I appreciate that the staff of The Brazil Times is making the poll available, I also understand that it's essentially meaningless.

Out of the past 25 polls, there have been at least 99 votes in each poll, and no more than 488 votes. On average, there are about 263 votes in each poll. Assuming that each vote is from one person who lives in Clay County, which I know is not true, the 4-H fair poll received votes from 0.79% of the county's population (210 out of 26,566). In other words, if you put 1,000 people in a room and asked them that question, only eight people would give an answer.

I think the poll is a great way to elicit feedback from the readers, but I also feel that too much importance is being placed on the poll results.

-- Posted by Civisi on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 11:03 PM

The clarification was excellent. Promote the fair as much as you can!!

-- Posted by scwh1974 on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 6:55 AM

From a loyal 4-H fair attender who no longer has children in 4-H, thank you for the clarification.

-- Posted by Justice 4 all on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 7:32 AM

I hope the Times has learned its lesson. Twice now it has treated unscientific internet polls as news and been justly criticized.

-- Posted by Anodos on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 7:49 AM

My guess would be that the poll results are not being viewed by the people that attend. Not all the people who went to the carnival have internet and speaking as a 4H parent, you are too busy the week beofre the fair to surf the net.

I think it was just a select few who answered.

Kepp up the good work

-- Posted by sassypants on Wed, Jul 16, 2008, at 9:04 AM


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