Okay, that's the news lede. Let's look at the story itself, specifically how it reports the methodological details.
Now there are certain things you should always report in a poll story: the margin of error, how many surveyed, and how they were surveyed. It's that last one that gets messy. Telephone survey? Fine. But what kind of telephone survey? A robo-poll (those annoying push-a-button-to-answer things)? Were cell phones included in the sample? If not, why the hell not? Purists would also want other details included -- and I'm among them -- but let's stick to the basics here and look at the story. Here's the lede:
Voters will soon be heading to the polls to decide some major races, including who will replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.Really, that's your lede?
Really, that isn't your lede, but this online version is written like you'd do it on local TV. The above sentence is fine as a lead-in for TV news (okay, it still kinda sucks, but we're talking local TV here), but it is inappropriate for a print version of the story, which is what we have.
The next two grafs are quotes from voters. Huh? They come out of nowhere. I'd fail this story if a student wrote it in my class. Well, it's clean otherwise. Maybe a "C."
Okay, but enough bitching about the writing. Let's get to the poll details.
- 600 likely Republican voters
- margin of error, 4 percent
- um, and that's about it
We don't know. And that's the problem.