Pew Admits They Falsely Pumped Up Podcasting Just For Fun

from the reality?-who-needs-that... dept

Like many people, when the headlines started flying around this morning saying that six million American adults listened to podcasts, it seemed like a questionable number. The folks at the Pew Internet and American Life Project tend to come out with pretty interesting studies that don’t often seem overhyped — but this appears to be an exception that really calls into question what the Pew people were thinking. It didn’t take long for many to question the findings, noting that it’s quite an extrapolation to go from 60 people answering yes to six million in the US. Amazingly, even the folks at Pew admit they don’t believe the 6 million number. They only put out the press release about it — why should they have to believe it, or even support it with the facts in their survey? In fact, the research director behind the study clarifies (after the fact, of course) that the study actually asked people: “if they had ever downloaded a podcast or radio Internet program.” So, out of 200 people, they got 60 to admit that they had maybe at some point downloaded an internet radio program (which is not necessarily the same thing as podcasting) — and from that they put out a report with the headline that “6 million American adults have listened to podcasts.” Why bother doing actual research any more when all the attention is in made up numbers?

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Comments on “Pew Admits They Falsely Pumped Up Podcasting Just For Fun”

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slim999 (user link) says:

From the same folks who brought you ...

… drum roll please: Grass-roots support for campaign finance reform?

Yep. Same bunch. Not one stat this outfit puts out should be reprinted. In fact, this is the same bunch who want to shut down bloggers (and anyone else using their “right” to free speech) if they can.

Alex Halavais (user link) says:

Overeacting a bit?

Here is the synopsis from Pew: “More than 22 million American adults own iPods or MP3 players and 29% of them have downloaded podcasts from the Web so that they could listen to audio files at a time of their choosing. That amounts to more than 6 million adults who have tried this new feature that allows internet ‘broadcasts’ to be downloaded onto their portable listening device.” OK, so not all of that is clearly “podcasting” and I suspect they tripped up on their terms, but it is time-shifting. So what exactly is the furor about again?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Overeacting a bit?

Which side is overreacting? The headline of the original piece said “6 million American adults have listened to podcasts.” That’s clearly wrong — yet, because it hit the magic podcast keyword, the press is reporting it as fact. I’d even say that your timeshifting claim is suspect. The survey was worded in a way that many people who simply listened to internet radio might have answered positively on this question — as they probably wouldn’t know the difference between downloading for time shifting and streaming.

CervantesVive says:

how about the alternate file transfer study they d

A recent Newsweek had a sidebar with a Pew blurb quoting 19% of respondents to a survey admitted to trading files thru alternate networks.

The way it was written it appeared to be a reference to P2P usage but turns out the figure included using USB drives & email attachments as well.

who was it that said ‘there’s lies, damn lies and statistics’

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