October 29, 2008
Integrity in Polling and Journalism: How Far To Go?
One of the questions that we have been asking political analysts here in Washington DC is whether or not these two things are influencing voters in advance of the elections (notwithstanding the 18% of voters who have already cast their votes in early elections!):
2. Op-Ed pieces and Reports
This casts a new light on the issues of integrity in polling and journalism: How far should they go, without influencing the vote? To be honest, they are going to go ahead anyways, but the issue is where do you draw the line on integrity?
First, let’s talk about polling. The questions that are being asked may have a certain bias to them, perhaps? Every question asked has an expected outcome, surely. Most of the polls (check http://www.electoral-vote.com) conduct interviews with landline phones at home, not on handphones which would give you younger, more pro-Obama results. Secondly, only 9% of respondents complete the poll in full. So you are getting 91% of people not finishing the poll.
Further, as Obama is polling higher rates than McCain, will these lead people on to believing that they should “go with the winner”? Or will they instead react in slight fear and cause the vote to swing McCain’s way? (mind you, much of Southern America is still conservative to the full, and Obama is still a black man running for the highest seat in the country.)
Journalism. We had the honour of Bill Nichols speaking to us today, who runs Politico, an online news site which although started in January 2007 is one of the leading Elections sites today. (He worked in USA Today for 20 years and covered the White House and the State Department). His site was the first to run the story on how the Republican Party spent $150,000 on Palin’s clothes. When asked why he decided to run it, and not focus on say, the clothes of Obama, he replied that there was value to the story and he followed journalistic integrity through objectivity.
Others might argue, though, that this is not necessarily objective reasoning since the party was validly using the money that had been validly donated to them through valid means, for reasons they thought best and most suitable. All writing has a biased agenda, based primarily on the writers’ own political sentiments, and did this perhaps shine through in the selection of coverage?
Whatever it is, everyone can agree that the polling results and online articles are definitely having an influence on the perception of voters.
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