Too much weight given to “media weight”?

Not surprisingly, a study by Quebec-based media monitoring firm Influence Communication has found a strong correlation between each party’s percentage of the vote and its “media weight” (measured in percentage of general news coverage). What is surprising, as Frédérick Bastien notes in a piece for, is how willing Radio-Canada has been to accept the findings at face value:

“Il est bien difficile d’évaluer si l’information concernant le poids média de certains aspects de la campagne est trompeuse ou fidèle à la réalité, car on ne sait pas à quelle «réalité» ces données réfèrent exactement.” (It’s quite difficult to evaluate whether the information concerning the media weight of certain aspects of the campaigns is reality-based or not, since we don’t know what “reality” the findings refer to exactly.)

Bastien also points out that various aspects of Influence Communication’s methodology haven’t been disclosed, and are necessary to confirm the validity of the study. These include the names of the news outlets and publications studied, and whether the same weight was given to each one. As Bastien notes, a news publication will cover a campaign differently than an entertainment magazine, and there is no way of knowing whether each was measured equally or not.

While the study has been getting a lot of play in Quebec, it has been largely ignored by ROC media. Here is a mention at the English website of a Montreal communications company.

In response to Bastien’s criticism, Influence Communication president Jean-François Dumas posted a letter on his company’s website that further explains the study’s methodology. The media used in the study consisted of all the dailies and the majority of weeklies, news and public affairs programs, and selected news-oriented shows. The study did not consider coverage in magazines, music-oriented radio programs, ads, quizzes, entertainment television, classifieds, obituaries or on the web.

Dumas notes that over the years, many students, communications professionals and other concerned citizens have contacted his organization with similar questions, and that they have always tried to satisfy anyone’s curiosity. In fact, they will be relaunching their website with a section devoted to facilitating this process.

Radio-Canada includes an abbreviated version of Dumas’ letter in their corrections and clarifications section.