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section heading icon     overview

This profile considers audience measurement, including opinion polls and other mechanisms for determining audience sizes, demographics and consumption patterns.

It covers -

It supplements the Internet Metrics & Statistics guide, the Marketing guide and other resources on this site.

subsection heading icon     making sense of figures

As starting points for considering some of the figures we recommend Darrell Huff's How To Lie With Statistics (New York: Norton 1993), which hasn't been substantially updated since its first appearance in the early 1950s but remains a classic. John Paulos' A Mathematician Reads The Newspaper (New York: Anchor 1996) is a similarly lighthearted look at the use and abuse of mathematics in the mass and specialist media. Joel Best's Damned Lies & Statistics: Untangling Numbers From The Media, Politicians & Activists (Berkeley: Uni of California Press 2001) is harder going but perhaps more valuable.

Ian Hacking's The Taming of Chance (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1990), Theodore Porter's The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820-1900 (Princeton: Princeton Uni Press 1988), Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods (Cambridge: Harvard Uni Press 1999) and The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900 (Cambridge: Belknap Press 1988) by Stephen Stigler offer historical introductions to methodologies, concepts such as the 'average man' and the statistical worldview. The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century (San Francisco: Freeman 2001) by David Salsburg and Smoot's Ear: The Measure of Humanity (New Haven: Yale Uni Press 2007) by Robert Tavernor are thinner but perhaps more accessible for non-specialists.

For New Zealand see A History of Statistics in New Zealand (Wellington: Bateson 1999) edited by H S Roberts and featuring comments such as

Working with a statistician is like eating a steak with a dog under the table. You eat all the good bits yourself and give the dog the grisly bits and he'll bite your leg if you don't.

subsection heading icon     opinions and surveys

For the emergence of methodologies see Norman Bradburn & Seymour Sudman's Polls and Surveys: Understanding What They Tell Us (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 1989), Jean Converse's Survey Research in the United States: Roots and Emergence 1890-1960 (Berkeley: Uni of California Press 1987), John Zaller's The Nature and Origin of Mass Opinion (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1992), Margo Anderson's The American Census: A Social History (New Haven: Yale Uni Press 1990), Sarah Igo's The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public (Cambridge: Harvard Uni Press 2007) and Daniel Robinson's Polling, Market Research, and Public Life, 1930-1945 (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press 1999).

Perspectives on the ratings business are provided by Measuring Media Audiences (London: Routledge 1994) edited by Raymond Kent, Audience Economics: Media Institutions & the Audience Marketplace (New York: Columbia Uni Press 2003) by Philip Napoli and Chains of Gold: Marketing the Ratings & Rating the Markets (Metuchen: Scarecrow 1990) by Karen Buzzard.

There is a broader view in Ratings Analysis: The Theory & Practice of Audience Research (Mahwah: Erlbaum 2000) edited by James Webster & Patricial Phalen, Consuming Audiences? Production & Reception in Media Research (New Hampton: Creskill 2000) edited by Ingunn Hagen & Janet Wasko, Interpreting Audiences: The Ethnography of Media Consumption (Thousand Oaks: Sage 1993) by Shaun Moores and Audience Ratings: Radio, Television & Cable (Hillsdale: Erlbaum 1988) by Hugh Beville.

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version of July 2007
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