Greater responsibility needed when reporting on Opinion Polls
Date Posted : Wednesday, 06 Jun 2012
Aaron Erlich is a man who doesn’t take opinions lightly. In fact whenever he comes across one – he insists on knowing the source and the validity of that opinion. Especially in politics!
That’s because Erlich analyses opinion polls in Kenya, a country where so-called surveys and reports about political opponents have become commonplace since new political freedoms were introduced in 2002.
Erlich recently ran a Free and Fair Media (FFM) workshop on opinion polls reporting at Internews in Nairobi in Kenya. He was told of the difficulties and challenges that journalist and editors faced in deciding which stories to tease out of opinion poll findings.
Erlich, who is also a research consultant, says journalists must always insist on knowing three important facts about opinion polls. How the respondents were chosen, how many people were interviewed and what the sampling error was. He also stressed that the media must also ask who paid for the poll and why.
Another person with opinion polls on his mind is Dr Bonny Khalwale, who is concerned about the funding behind opinion polls. He is also the key mover of the motion to legislate Kenyan opinion polls. His campaign is based on allegations that political parties pay for polls that are then skewed in their favour.
At the workshop, Dr Khalwale illustrated several scenarios of opinion polls abuse. He showed cases where politicians could commission opinion polls, and then hire rival pollsters to give alternative findings if pollster results did not favour them.
(To read more about the Internews workshop on Opinion Poll Reporting – Click Here)
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