The new chapter, available immediately to AP Stylebook Online subscribers, leads with longstanding guidance that the mere existence of a poll is not enough to make news. It adds that “poll results that seek to preview the outcome of an election must never be the lead, headline or single subject of any story.”
Deputy Managing Editor for Operations David Scott, who oversees AP’s polling unit, said:
A good pre-election poll can provide solid insight into what voters are thinking. In the heat of a campaign, that’s why they are so often intoxicating for journalists, for campaign staffers and, yes, for candidates, too. But the 2016 election was a reminder that polls aren’t perfect. They’re unquestionably a piece of the story, but never the whole story. The Stylebook update aims to serve as a steady reminder of that fact.
The update reflects the latest in polling science and the idea that some cutting-edge methodologies that incorporate opt-in online surveys may, after thorough review, be suitable for publication. Journalists are still encouraged to use probability-based surveys to accurately assess the public’s opinion.
“We’re excited about this much-needed update to our survey standards,” said AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson. “It maintains our commitment to high-quality polling while also taking into account the changing nature of polling and the latest research on poll methods.”
“It is more vital than ever for policymakers, journalists and citizens to become better informed consumers of surveys and data,” said Dan Gaylin, president and CEO of NORC at the University of Chicago. “We are proud to work with The Associated Press and support them in their continued efforts to promote rigorous standards for reporting on survey research and to help the public understand key characteristics of reliable data.”
The new polls and surveys chapter will debut in print when the 2018 AP Stylebook is published on May 30. Scott and Swanson will answer questions about the guidance in an @APStylebook Twitter chat today at 2:30 p.m. ET.
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