9:00 am EDT - 12:00 am EDT

Past Event

Reporting on Public Opinion Polls: Can We Do Better?

Wednesday, July 28, 1999

9:00 am - 12:00 am EDT

The Brookings Institution
Stein Room

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC

Polls have become a mainstay of political reporting in the United States. They promise to be a prominent feature of the coverage, by broadcast and print journalists, of the 2000 election campaign. But how accurate is the information about public opinion that is conveyed to the citizenry? And how useful are poll-based stories in providing information relevant to elections and policymaking?

This briefing, based on research conducted at the University of Michigan by the Pew Charitable Trust Project on “The Role of Polling in a Civil Society,” will include a systematic review of the problems that journalists commonly encounter when reporting on polls. Examples of good and bad practice when reporting poll results will be presented. Guidelines for preparing stories on public opinion data that will inform and educate the public without providing misleading information will also be presented.