Public opinion polling: Kenyan scribes short in polling

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 00:00 |
Kenyan scholar, Dane Kiambi.

Local journalists’ level of knowledge on important aspects of public opinion polling has been found wanting. 

A study conducted by a Kenyan scholar, Dane Kiambi, an associate professor in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, US, has found most journalists require more training on opinion polls.

The study has been accepted for publication in Journalism, a major international peer-reviewed journal. Dr Kiambi collected data from Kenyan journalists and used a mixed method approach in his Journalists’ Level of Knowledge on Empirical Research and Opinion Polling study. 

Empirical research

He surveyed 71 political reporters from the print and broadcast media houses on their levels of knowledge on aspects of empirical research and opinion polling in his first part.

 He later conducted one-on-one interviews with nine editors who were familiar with the reporting skills of political reporters.

The survey study measured the knowledge of the Kenyan journalists on aspects such as the two main types of sampling participants – probability and non-probability sampling – sampling frame, margin of error, and the different types of probability and non-probability sampling techniques among other issues of survey research.

Results from one of the questions on the types of sampling showed that 63.4 per cent of the Kenyan journalists who participated in the study did not know that findings from a non-random or non-probability sample cannot be generalised to the population. 

Another 63.4 per cent of participating journalists did not know that sampling error cannot be computed from data that was collected using a non-probability or non-random sample. 

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