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Candidate Stances on Issues Is More Important Than Opinion Polls

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For voters navigating the ever-complex political landscape, understanding candidate stances on critical issues like the economy, immigration, abortion and climate change holds far greater value than tracking fluctuations in opinion polls. However, “horse race” coverage, fixated on fleeting poll numbers and campaign theatrics, remains deeply ingrained in media narratives and can be a hard habit to kick.

A Feb. 6 webinar hosted by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and The Solutions Journalism Network featured New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen and journalists Natalie Van Hoozer, Hugo Balta and Elliot Wade. Hosted by Jaisal Noor, the Democracy Initiative manager at The Solutions Journalism Network, the webinar drew more than 500 participants hailing from the United States, Mexico, Brussels, Argentina, Zambia, Pakistan and elsewhere eager to explore alternative strategies instead of the typical who’s winning/losing narrative. Titled “Putting People First: A New Approach to Political Coverage,” the event presented “The Citizens Agenda Approach to Election Coverage for Journalists,” a 10-point framework championed by Rosen.

This approach emphasizes prioritizing community concerns, urging journalists to actively listen and engage with voters. Instead of newsrooms relying solely on polls and punditry, the framework suggests asking readers a simple yet powerful question: “What do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes?”

“Rather than starting with the candidates, the race, or strategy, begin with the people you aim to inform,” stated Rosen, who is known for his “the stakes, and not the odds” principle in political coverage. He emphasized that even listening to just a handful of voters provides more value than reporting on who’s ahead in the polls.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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