Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"I don't care about the perceptions"

I wanted to make a few additional comments on Radio/TV Marti.

I listen to Radio Marti from time to time; anyone can listen through its website. My general impression has been that the presentation if the news is straight, but in some cases when there’s an issue that is politically sensitive in Miami, bias creeps in.

And then there have been episodes that show a huge gap between Marti and normal journalism. Among the most famous were when Marti decided not to carry a live broadcast of President Carter’s address at the University of Havana, or when it delayed for hours the news that Elian Gonzalez had been seized by federal agents.

I think the survey that Marti commissioned to measure its audience, covered in the recent AP story, is another such episode.

You don’t have to be a journalist to know that no editor in print or broadcasting measures his own audience.

The only credible measures are independent ones. In newspapers, it’s the Audit Bureau of Circulations. In radio, it’s Arbitron. In television, it’s Nielsen.

At Radio/TV Marti, they chose one of their own contractors, one who according to AP “has had several other contracts to improve Marti programming.” So that even if the contractor’s survey work was impeccable, outsiders would have reason to doubt it, but Marti’s management apparently saw no issue here. The contractor, equally untroubled, said, “I don't care about the perceptions.” Again, good enough for government work.

The survey, with positive results, wsa leaked to the Miami Herald during the week when Marti’s budget was being considered in a House committee.

Then there’s the question of research methods. I’ll grant that this is not a simple subject to research, but it’s not impossible. In the past, Marti has paid foreign research firms to do the research in Cuba, which would seem to make sense because the audience is there, and a researcher could report on both audience reaction and signal quality.

But no – Marti chose a contractor that worked exclusively in the United States. The questions about Radio and TV Marti were directed to recent immigrants, who may or may not have thought the pollsters were connected to the U.S. government, and who may or may not have wondered if their answers could possibly affect their government-provided hhealth, employment, income, and educational benefits.

The contractor says he is “open for any kind of examination of our work product.”

If so, he should release his report. It’s unclassified, and if it’s good enough to give to the Miami Herald, it’s good enough to give to the rest of us.

We paid for it, after all.


Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Rather than waste tax money on one information spigot that is easily jammed by Raul, a much more effective device is this blog and many others just like it. Cubans who have access to computers (mostly underpaid, bored and angry disgruntled office workers) read this stuff and quickly put it up on bemba for wide spread dissemination. Everyday I hear about new, informative blogs like this coming online. The regime is toast!

leftside said...

Does no one care that TV/Radio Marti is illegal - both in US and international law?? Why the sole focus (here and in the media) about its effectiveness (in overthrowing the Revolution)?? Not just technological problems prevent Marti's "success" but also that the viewpoint and programming does not resonate with most Cubans.

Bias does more than "creep in" to Marti's "reporting." The US State Department line is basically transmitted verbatim every day all day. Current top headlines include the (wrong) statement by McCarry that repression has increased under Raul and from the State Dept. that conditions have gotten no better under Raul. This is far more crude than even the Cuban press...

afm35 said...

How does can anyone, especially a so called "respected" news organization such as AP, draw such broad conclusions by speaking with 24 recent arrivals. You cannot say that TV Marti is hardly seen by only speaking with such a small group. That is hardly a scientific survey. Many well respected dissidents such as Guillermo Fariñas and Martha Beatrice Roque have confirmed that TV Marti is in fact seen in Cuba.
The shoddy journalism being practiced is that by Ms. Muñoz.