Reporting polled opinion

the few things journalists must do, things pollsters do and the many things journalists should do

Murray Goot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Opinion polls occupy much more media space than they did in their early years, they help increasingly to frame political commentary, and they influence political decisions. This article examines the guidelines for the reporting of polls drawn up by various media bodies, notably the Australian Press Council, and by a number of market research organizations. It compares the guidelines provided by these bodies with what newspapers actually disclose when they publish their polls. And it offers guidelines of its own about how polls ought to be presented and interpreted. The article shows that the media’s own guidelines do not require much, if anything, more than newspapers would provide without their prompting. It shows that what pollsters disclose through the media varies widely, that failures to disclose can be misleading even where they do not contravene any guideline, but that some failures can be justified by reference to conflicting principles within the guidelines. Finally, it outlines and illustrates a number of things journalists should do when reporting or interpreting polls—things not covered by industry guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-207
Number of pages14
JournalAsia Pacific Media Educator
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • codes of conduct
  • journalism
  • media guidelines
  • opinion polls
  • press council

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