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Polling, the Media, and Politics

January 8, 2010

Posted by: Chad M. Gesser

Twitter: @profgesser

Email: chad.gesser@kctcs.edu

As recent as 10 years ago, gaining access to quality information and data regarding a variety of social issues required at least a little bit of effort.

In the past decade we have seen an increasing availability of information and “news” through the transition of our media to a 24 hour news cycle.  Information is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through a variety of platforms including cable television, the internet, and hand held devices.

While the amount of information available has both increased and has become abundantly available, the quality of the information can many times be suspect.

Given the bombardment of information, and certainly the thirst the American public has in being informed, one has to practice some basic tenets of research so as not to be misinformed by information saturation.

The Daily Show with John Stewart regularly picks apart the news to highlight the discrepancies often found.

Check out this clip where Stewart addresses polling by the major cable news networks: Poll Bearers.

No doubt Stewart makes a point.  How do Sociologists address the issues of validity and reliability?  Is there such a thing as “quality research”, “value free research”?  How do Sociologists strive to uphold the integrity of the research process?

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