Questionnaires and Opinion Polls

You have devised a questionnaire to send out.  You want to take an opinion poll.  Why?  This does not happen in the real world of real journalism.

Opinion poll companies such a Morgans, Nielsens or Newspoll are experts in taking polls.  Journalists are not.  They stick to acting as journalists and let the pollsters take opinions from people in their scientific way.

In the real world of journalism, you simply phone up a few relevant people and ask their opinions and you quote them using their language.  People write quite differently to how they speak.

Your response rate to a questionnaire, if you’re lucky, will be less than 1% because people don’t care.  But they will respond to a smart, informed journalist asking a few intelligent questions over the phone.  No one wants to fill out a form and send it back.


Online polls are different

The example here is from an online newspaper.  These type of polls generally accompany an article and people answer the poll afterwards.  They are not scientific, can be biased and it’s possible to sway the results.  However, they do keep people interested, give you a data point and keep the conversation going with comments.

Opinion poll from The Sydney Morning Herald
Opinion poll from The Sydney Morning Herald

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