One more on polls / the role of the political journalist?

Nieman Journalism Lab discussed Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog and the ability of a journalist to make predictions in an election. Silver was credited for using calibrations as opposed to mere horse-race talk.

Silver is contrasted with folks over at CNN (and any major news network) who mislead audiences by failing to grasp how to read and analyze polls:

“Recently CNN aired a chart that showed one candidate ahead 49 percent to 47 percent, and the commentators were discussing this lead. But up in the corner in small print, the margin of error of the poll was given as 5.5 percent. In other words, the size of the “lead” was smaller than the expected error in the poll result, meaning that the difference was probably meaningless.”

The article stresses the need for journalist specialization:

“The traditional generalist education of the journalist is ill suited to meaty topics such as law, science, finance, technology, and medicine. It’s no longer enough to be able to write a good article.” 

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Benjamin A Simon Election 2012 Blog

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