23 August 2010

VOCM “news” has no source

News outlets usually give a source for the information they provide, so when the province’s largest commercial radio station gives a glowing story without a single source, one tends to get a wee bit suspicious.

And when the information contradicts reliable sources, you have to wonder what sort of shenanigans are going on over at the radio network known derisively at this time of the year as voice of the cabinet minister.

Here’s the entire “story” VOCM posted to its website under the headline “Construction Booming in Capital City”.

VOCM construction

The audio file attached to the story demonstrates the text is just the script for the report.  And if you can’t make out the print in that picture, here’s what it says:

If you're of the opinon [sic] there's more construction activity than usual going on in the capital city, you're right. Virtually all elements of the construction industry are up in St.John's. The only area which is experiencing a decrease for the year to date is residential, which is about $5 million off last year's pace. The number of units being built has dropped from 422 to 365. Commercial is going at nearly double last year's rate, industrial has gone from next to nothing to $300 million, and government or institutional type activity has soared from $20 million to $90 million. Overall, building and reno permits are worth about 60 per cent more this year than last August.

So where did all this information come from?

That’s a good question because there isn’t any clue anywhere in the audio version or in the text file as to where they got the information.

If you go to an authoritative source, like say Statistics Canada, the most recent figures don’t show anything vaguely like the VOCM claim. 

Here’s a chart of SC’s tally of non-residential building construction in the province as a whole and in St. John’s (the blue line with diamond-shaped bullets). The numbers on the vertical axis are millions of dollars. Your humble e-scribbler ran it in late July, so some of you will be familiar with it.

For the second quarter of 2010, the value of non-residential building construction  - that’s institutional (government), commercial and industrial for St. John’s was $40 million.

Not the $300 million claimed for the industrial component alone.

$40 million.


Even if you added up the two quarters, you still would be less than one third of the number VOCM claims without any sourcing for just one category and only in St. John’s.

Hey, VOCM.

Ed Murrow called.

He wants those awards back.

- srbp -