Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Mail takes the gold in talking crap

Why is it that papers so often ruin what could be a potentially interesting story by making stuff up in an attempt to get a shock-horror headline and play to the crowd?

Today's Mail looks at ticketing plans for the 2012 Olympics. They could do a serious investigation, look at how the prices compare to other events, send reporters to Leyton and Stratford to ask locals if they'll be paying X amount to see the events taking place on their doorstep. But instead they come up with this:

."..despite Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee (Locog), claiming the 2012 Olympic Games will be a reasonably priced, the cost for many seats remains eye-watering. For example, the best seats for the men's 100m sprint final, for example, cost £725 – or about £75 a second if Usain Bolt is running. Cheaper tickets for the event, seen as the highlight of the games, will cost £200."

The most expensive athletics ticket is the one that will let you see the men's 100m final. It costs £725. The men's 100m final lasts for about 9.6 seconds. 725 / 9.6 = £75 per second. The maths stand up, but the context is absurd. £725 is a lot of money, but buying such a ticket for the session in question (the evening of 5 August) will allow you to see the following:


100m semi finals
100m final
400m semi finals
1,500m semi finals
3,000m steeplechase final
High jump qualifying
Hammer final
10,000m victory ceremony
Long jump victory ceremony

100m victory ceremony
400m final and victory ceremony
400m hurldes, round one
Triple jump, final and victory ceremony
Marathon victory ceremony

The session starts at 18:50 and finishes at 21:55, a total duration of 3 hours 5 minutes. Now you could run in to your seat at the moment the gun fires, then flee the stadium as soon as the winner crosses the line. But who is actually going to do that? Stick around for the whole evening and your £725 ticket works out at 6.5p per second.

Still a lot of money, don't get me wrong. But it's nonsense to say it'll cost £75 per second to see the men's 100m final. And despite what the Mail tells you, the cheapest ticket for the evening costs £50 (or 0.45p per second), not £200. In fact the £200 figure quoted in the story is entirely made up - according to the London 2012 website, there's not a single ticket on sale for any day of athletics in any price band that will set you back £200.

There are questions to be asked about the London 2012 price plans. But why does the Mail have to use nonsensical maths and made-up prices in order to address them?


benjamin said...

The guardian ran a similar story.. A little sensationalist, but they have taken the same £75.00/sec. angle..


Anonymous said...

By the same measure, the Daily Mail costs 50p, and if you were to buy it, you'd realise within a minute that it's crap.
Therefore it costs £30 per hour to read the Daily Mail!