NEWS13 October 2020

British Polling Council publishes journalists’ guide to opinion polls

Media News Public Sector Trends UK

UK – The British Polling Council has published guidance for journalists on the use and reporting of opinion polls.

The document forms part of the Council’s response to the recommendations of the House of Lords’ committee on polling and digital media, which found "disturbing problems" with the way in which voting intention polls are reported on by the media. 

The publication includes an overview of how polls are conducted, including what to look out for when judging whether sample is representative, advice on how to evaluate the questions covered and guidance on interpreting the results.

Last year, press regulator Impress and the Market Research Society jointly developed a quick guide on surveys and polling data.

Professor Sir John Curtice, president of the British Polling Council, said: "In its report, the House of Lords committee expressed a number of concerns about how the media report polls. Our guide is intended to help address some of these concerns by providing a quick five-minute accessible introduction to polls.

"It describes both the strengths and the limits of polls, outlines five key questions that should be asked of any poll, and identifies the major potential pitfalls to avoid in writing a poll story. We hope that it will help journalists in newsdesks up and down the country report polls in a way that their audience finds both interesting and informative."