Natur's environmental barometer: Survey research as a tool in the development of precision journalism

Date of publication: September 1, 1990

Abstract:

Over the past decade citizens' action groups and initiatives in areas such as disarmament or environmental protection have made increasingly clear how important the power of public opinion is. On the subject of ecology, more than any other, we are witnessing a worldwide change in attitudes. This will significantly affect the way people think, not only with respect to their personal lives but also in economic terms, in their roles as producers or consumers and it will influence their political attitudes and behavior. Why is survey research becoming an increasingly popular tool even in the field of journalism? The reason is that it is impossible to capture the trends and shifts in the climate of public opinion without survey research. Regular and systematic probes into the climate of opinion open the way to a new kind of precision journalism. German magazines such as NATUR, CAPITAL and QUICK have cooperated with the Institut fiir Demoskopie Allensbach in designing projects in journalism that have become an integral part of their issues. This paper will describe the conception behind, initial experience with and results of this cooperative venture between journalism and survey research from two points of view; from the perspective of survey research and from the perspective of the editorial staff of the environmental magazine NATUR.

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