Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Guardian Average, not so meaningful

4 3 4 2 4 4

Before reading on, what’s the average of those six numbers? Roughly. Just by looking at it. Hold it in your head for a minute while you read on.

The Guardian used to be nicknamed the Grauniad due to its propensity to misspell words, particularly in headlines and bold text. But having tightened up on the use of the spell checker and raised their game in the English department, their maths skills are now lacking. (To avoid hypocrisy, I’ve spell checked this post to death!)

This morning’s G2 magazine features a handy review of reviews table on page 29, summarising the views of various daily and Sunday newspapers on recent films, plays, and TV programmes.

It’s a simple matrix, with the newspapers across the top, and the shows down the left hand side. They even translate the different papers’ marking schemes (stars out of five, must-see to avoid-like-the-plague ratings) into a simple marks-out-of-ten to make them comparable.

The crunch comes with the averaging.

  • Factory Girl (which premiered in London last week) gets 3 3 4 6 7 3 4 and an overall average of 4. Seems ok.
  • Premonition (starring Sandra Bullock, and universally rubbished) gets 1 1 1 2 1 6 2 and an average of 2. Looks about right.
  • Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus gets 4 3 4 2 4 4, which according to my abacus averages out at 3½, but I’d forgive someone rounding it up to 4. And the overall mark published in the Guardian? 6! Turns out that a “Guardian average” isn’t very meaningful. A bit too above average.

Time to send the review of reviews compiler over to the Grauniad’s Tuesday education supplement for some remedial maths lessons. And expect a correction from the readers’ editor real soon.

1 comment:

John Self said...

My main beef with the Guardian is that we don't get the same paper in NI that the rest of the UK does. We're still mostly in monochrome, so a lot of the tables and graphics are meaningless when they appear to us to be using similar shades of grey to differentiate between features; and the central double photo spread is never interesting because the lack of colour robs it of impact.

More annoyingly though is that G2 appears to have four fewer pages for us. We don't get radio listings or Last Night's TV - which when the reviewer is Nancy Banks-Smith, means the loss of the best thing in the newspaper.

All this is because the Guardian in NI is printed in Portadown on old-fashioned presses, unlike the state of the art MAN Roland presses which they use for the rest of the UK (in Manchester and London). I suppose the sales of the Guardian in NI aren't sufficient to justify the expense.