More “Findings” From Peninsula

Some time ago I posted about a survey by an outfit called Peninsula Ireland. The alleged findings of the survey were so absurd that they could be seen to be untrue after a split second’s reflection. Two broadhseet newspapers either failed to invest this split second, or else, having done so, were happy to print commercially-motivated untruths as fact.

Today, Peninisula are back with more “findings“. This time, it appears that employees are spending an average of 2 hours 20 minutes per day on personal email and surfing the web. Not only that, but more than two-thirds of employers have disciplined staff for such exessive use. As is the case every time I read a Peninsula “finding” (Peninsula never seem to release the actual results of the surveys they claim to carry out, only press releases containing hack-friendly factoids), I am quite confident when I say that I don’t believe a word of this.

The newspapers on the other hand are only too happy to present unverified and highly questionable claims of a private enterprise to their readers. In the case of the Irish Times, they are more than willing to throw in a little fabrication of their own. “Workers twittering away more than two hours a day online” goes the headline in the Irish Times, despite there being no mention of Twitter elsewhere in the story. But twitter is all the rage these days, so let’s throw in a gratuitous mention, and to hell with whether the reader is misled or not.

I should be clear that I don’t blame Peninsula for any of this. They are only doing their job by exploiting the gullibility of the press. Their suveys may insult the intelligence of the average person, but clearly they don’t insult that of our print media, who time and again swallow this nonsense and pass it off on us as news.

Note: I wrote this last night, but in the end decided not to publish it, figuring the territory had already been covered. Then I got this lovely comment. A comment weirdly similar to one left at Maman Poulet under a different name) Of course, it would be petty and childish to publish the post just to annoy them. But hey, that’s me.

13 Comments

  • Suzy Byrne says:

    Sorry that should read John and Leonie…fairly clear I don’t spend my employers time learning html!

  • Fergal Crehan says:

    Hadn’t thought of that angle. Next week’s survey: “Peninsula Ireland says that 63% of employees spend their time at work commenting on blogs under false aliases”

  • Dan Sullivan says:

    Fergal, I queried the reporter in the IT as to whether the survey was done with employees during work hours and whether it constituted work or not. I’ve no heard back yet.

  • Eoin O'Mahony says:

    Imagine: the words Peninsula and dodgy in the same sentence? This company operates by spewing out as much ‘research’ as they can produce so that some of it will eventually stick on a journalist’s show. What would I know though: I’m just a professional researcher being protective of something that can be bought and sold like so much Metro-filler.

  • Dave says:

    Was this in yesterdays Examiner, I think I read this yesterday?

  • Gordon says:

    Fact: 100% of journalists love statistics. Let’s put this into perspective. Peninsula Ireland’s PR handlers are just doing their jobs and they know the papers lap up this kind of stuff. End result: here we all are talking about them, many of us probably never having heard of Peninsula before now (and no, I’m not an employee).
    The bigger issue here is not that some company has come up with dodgy research for self-promotion – it’s standard practice in the tech sector, for a start, and plenty others. It’s that the media is under such pressure to cut costs that it can’t afford to pay journalists who go and research real stories. Instead the model that’s evolved is overworked staff who have no option but to churn out whatever comes their way, because they have to have X amount of stories on their site every day.
    Yes, shame on any publication for giving Peninsula the oxygen of publicity, but paper never refused ink, and when the ink comes half-formed into a story, then what understaffed media outlet can afford to say no? Buy Nick Davies’ excellent Flat Earth News (www.flatearthnews.net) and you’ll realise that the aptly named Peninsula is really just the tip of a much bigger iceberg.

  • Fergal Crehan says:

    My point exactly Gordon. Peninsula are only doing their job (their terrible, terrible job) here. The papers, alas, are not.

    We did our own analysis of the Irish papers, in a style similar to Flat Earth News, some years ago. Do a search on the blog for “Paper Round” if you’re interested in reading more.

  • laura says:

    The story about the intern being fired is a true story. His boss caught him out on facebook. That is probably what prompted this survey and others of its ilk. The wall street journal wrote about it. He worked an Anglo Irish Bank’s north american division. http://blogs.wsj.com/biztech/2007/11/13/facebook-photo-betrays-intern/

  • Survey. What survey? We are presented with some headline grabbing results but no exposure or explanation of the underlying survey methodology (what were the ACTUAL questions asked?), the sample size used (was it 1, 10, 100, 1000 people), and some granularity on the responses.

    That silly people get in trouble for doing silly things, like lying to their boss and then publishing evidence of the lie on the interweb is chucklesome, but not surprising. Also, there is nothing in the WSJ coverage of the Facebook story that suggests that the intern in question accessed the facebook page from work (but perhaps his boss….?).

    I regularly run surveys with a professional body I’m a director of and, even with a reasonable team supporting us in a University and some experienced survey developers on our team, it takes a while to come up with valid survey instruments and get large enough sample sizes to make supportable comments and assessments.

    Pinnacle are either REALLY good at designing and turning around surveys (in which case publish the questions and the underlying data) or they are just making this stuff up to grab headlines.

    Why might the actual questions asked help shed light on the survey… http://tinyurl.com/deswsv explains all.

  • Mark says:

    Peninsula are at it again. Looks like we’re all out at the pub for lunch every day. Woohoo! Aren’t we? http://www.herald.ie/national-news/liquid-lunches-rampant-1684984.html

  • Most of the people i work with barely have time to take lunch, let alone a liquid one. The last liquid lunch I had was a cuppa soup.

    Maybe they are confusing the raft of leaving do’s arising from redundancies and non-renewal of contracts with lunch?

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