NEWS5 December 2019

Quick polling guide published for journalists

Election 2019 Media News Public Sector UK

UK – Journalists should not report on polling changes that are not significantly different in their election coverage, the Market Research Society (MRS) and independent press regulator Impress have advised.

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Reporting should include sample size and methodology, refer to the margin of error and include the percentage of ‘don’t know’ responses, a quick guide (pictured) produced by the organisations advises. 

The advice is part of wider guidance from MRS and Impress, including information on how to spot unreliable research and tips on making sure reporting is statistically sound.

Journalists should also not inflate changes that are within the margin of error, compare polls if they are not like for like or report on research where the sample size is too small to be accurate or is not representative.

The draft guidance was launched for consultation in early November, with a roundtable of research and media industry professionals discussing the issues around reporting election polls.

Jane Frost, chief executive of MRS, said: "We encourage all journalists to use this guidance to support their reporting in the coming weeks, to help them understand research issued by polling companies and ensure that they are reflecting the findings accurately in their reporting.

"Journalists are busy people, so our quick guide is also there as a helpful aide-memoire and checklist to avoid those basic pitfalls."