An experiment with UK newspapers’ coverage of political polls

The problems associated with media coverage of political opinion polling is being tackled on the Liberal Democrat Voice blog by one of its contributors Mark Pack.

“The most obvious problem is when an opinion poll from one polling company is compared not with the previous poll from that company but against an older one because the intervening one happened to have been published by a different media outlet,” explains Pack in a post last month.

As such Pack has committed himself to scoring polls commissioned by the UK’s newspapers on the way in which their initial reports on their polls are worded.

The system for scoring the papers asks whether the title has: followed the British Polling Council’s rules; reported the fieldwork dates for the poll; and are changes in party support from the last poll conducted by that paper referenced in the report.

According to the scores for January, the Sunday Mirror and the Times are faring the best on Pack’s scale; while the Sunday Telegraph and the Times have the least points.

While its not a scientific exercise, it will be interesting to see in the build-up to the election how poll coverage changes and which papers collect the most “brownie points” as more months of data are collected.

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