Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clinton's Popularity in Poll Draws Skepticism from Reader

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clinton's Popularity in Poll Draws Skepticism from Reader

Article excerpt

The focus of this position is taking feedback from readers and sharing it with staff and management.

In that spirit, let's start the first column of the new year with an e-mail message from a reader.

DEAR READER ADVOCATE: "When I read in Newsmakers last Sunday that Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II tied for the most admired man, I wanted to barf. But then I read on to see that the poll was taken by CNN-USA Today and that it consisted of only 1,000 adults. Unfortunately, too many people only read the headlines. The fact that the poll was taken by extreme liberal organizations, and only asked of a small number of people, is often overlooked. Don't you think this is irresponsible journalism?" -- M.L.

Dear M.L.: It's difficult to believe polls when they disagree with your opinions. Many readers don't understand how a survey of 1,000 people could possibly approximate the results from the entire nation. But if the sample is truly random, a survey can come close. Of course, some polls can be abused by using leading questions, and so forth. The question here is: What kind of survey was used by CNN and USA Today? Since this was reported in a brief Newsmakers item on A-2, there wasn't enough space to give details on the poll.

In this case, The Gallup Organization conducted a scientific poll of more than 1,000 adults from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points. The particular question has been used for many years. The two people who finished in the Top 10 most often in these annual polls are Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth.

For more information on how scientific polls are conducted, Gallup has a Web site (www.gallup.com).

DEAR READER ADVOCATE: The Sports page staff must have had the second team working when writing and editing the 2000 All-First Coast Teams in Christmas Day's paper. …

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