The other day I talked to The Journalists’s Resource about how journalists should cover opinion polls. Subsequently, the journalist wrote a great article with a list of things to avoid as a journalist when covering opinion polls – and what to do (it is a constructive piece of journalism). You can read the article here.
Here is the list of things to avoid:
- Reporting on any opinion poll you come across.
- Focusing on a single opinion poll — especially outliers — without providing context.
- Covering poll results without taking into account the poll’s margin of error.
- Narrowly focusing this year’s midterm election coverage on whether Republicans or Democrats will secure top offices, including seats in the U.S. House and Senate.
- Assuming that simply cutting coverage of opinion polls will improve election news and lead to a more informed electorate.
The first items on the list are inspired by our research on how journalists cover opinion polls. Do read the full article with advice on how to get it right.
On a related note, you can also check out the new edition of ‘A Journalist’s Guide To Opinion Polls‘ from the British Polling Council. This guide is more about understanding opinion polls rather than how to cover opinion polls.