Fewer or Less Satisfied? Another misleading headline by ST

Leading local newspaper Straits Times carried a report yesterday with the headline : Fewer satisfied with public transport: Survey”.  When I read the report it was crystal clear that the meaning of the heading was quite different from the actual survey findings.

The survey found that local commuters are less satisfied (or more unhappy) with public transport compared to a year ago, according to a quarterly consumer index released by the Singapore Management University’s Institute of Service Excellence (ISES).

Satisfaction with the MRT system dipped by six points to 61.9 points out of 100. The score for public buses dropped by 4.8 points to 61.6 points.Taxis’ score fell by 2.4 points to 64.3 points.

No where in the news report was there any mention of fewer people being dissatisfied with public transport. Was it a simple case of the sub-editor/editor not understanding the difference in meaning between Fewer (people) satisfied and Less Satisfied? Or was this a classic case of spinning the truth to position a negative situation in a less negative light, or should I say a more positive light.  ST managed to make a badly leaking bottle sound like it’s half full.

By fudging the heading with “Fewer satisfied…”, ST is saying there is a quantifiable drop in the Number of people who are satisfied and implying that there are still many people who are satisfied.  How can that be true when that is not what the survey found and what the reporter wrote?

So much for the ST’s call for transparency and truth.

The wrong headline did a disservice to the reporter who wrote about the survey in an accurate manner. He had reported the public’s negative view of local transport and even quoted SES academic director as saying: “These developments (the frequent MRT breakdowns etc) have primed the weary commuters to be more intolerant of service lapses, negatively affecting how the customer perceives the service experience.”

I checked around to see how the other mainstream media reported on this survey and the good news is that they went with accurate honest headlines. Some examples:

Asiaone: “S’poreans more unhappy with public transport”

Today : Singaporeans less satisfied with local transport service: ISES survey

There is hope yet for some MSM.

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One Response to Fewer or Less Satisfied? Another misleading headline by ST

  1. Gloria Ng says:

    Too many foreign workers on MRT East-West line. Not unusual to find them occupying the “reserved seats” and pretending to be sleeping when they see old and infirmed commuters boarding the train.

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