Courtney Kennedy (Photo courtesy of the Pew Research Center)
Journalists often include survey results in a story to offer a sense of public opinion. But not all surveys are created equal, and some should be avoided at all costs.
In a recent phone interview, Courtney Kennedy, vice president of survey research and innovation at the Pew Research Center, a “nonpartisan fact tank,” shared advice with me on how to judge survey quality.
A longer version of our conversation, which was edited for length and clarity, can be found at The Freelance Center.
Thomas R. Simon, Ph.D., associate director of the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, addresses attendees during the “Everything you think you know about guns is wrong: Myths, facts and where to find the best research & data” session. (Photo by Erica Tricarico)
One of the most challenging aspects of writing about gun violence is finding good data. The CDC has reliable statistics on gun deaths, including accidents, suicides and homicides, but it’s historically been more difficult to find data on gun injuries or more detailed epidemiology.
South Dakota voters approve amendment to state constitution to expand access to Medicaid (Source: Status of State Medicaid Expansion Decisions: Interactive Map, Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed Nov. 9, 2022.)
Even while votes are still being counted, there are important lessons to be learned from the midterm elections on Tuesday.
One of the big lessons is that when voters are asked whether to expand Medicaid, they mostly vote in favor, as happened when South Dakota approved an amendment to the state constitution this week, requiring the state to expand access to Medicaid benefits to low-income residents.
Photo: Erica Tricarico Yvonne Latty, professor at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication, listens during the Q&A at the “Transforming news coverage of gun violence” session.
Journalists have long reported on gun violence in its most superficial terms: arriving at a crime scene, interviewing police, witnesses, and distraught family members, then filing a quick story by deadline. But that model doesn’t provide the empathy and dignity victims and their communities deserve, said panelists during the session “Transforming news coverage of gun violence” on October 28 at AHCJ’s fall summit.
When journalist Ted Alcorn visited an alcohol detox center in Gallup, New Mexico, he had little idea his reporting on the impact of alcohol on his state would grow into a multi-part, 21,000-words-and-growing series digging into why New Mexico residents die from drinking at much higher rates than those in other states. Alcorn’s remarkable package, Blind Drunk, was published by New Mexico In Depth in July 2022. Alcorn is an AHCJ Health Care Performance fellow and covered this story as a part of the fellowship program.
A reporter with credits at The New York Times and other national publications who also lectures at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, Alcorn shared with AHCJ how his project came about and how he waded through the enormous amount of research that went into it.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.