Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Published in Journalism (2019), 17pp

DOI: 10.1177/1464884919869994


Copyright © 2019 Dane Kiambi. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


This study examines the level of knowledge of Kenyan political reporters on a few key concepts of empirical research and opinion polling. Although data from this study are from a nonrepresentative sample, it offers important insights into levels of knowledge on an important topic in journalism. Results indicate that 63. 4 percent of the reporters did not know that survey findings from a nonrandom or nonprobability sample cannot be generalized to the population. Another 63. 4 percent did not know that sampling error cannot be computed from data that were collected using a nonrandom sample, while 49. 3 percent did not get it correct that the main difference between a nonrandom and random sample was that a random sample ensures that each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected as a study participant. Editors interviewed for this study were in agreement that majority of the reporters were ill-prepared when it comes to interpreting results from an opinion poll and accurately reporting on them. This analysis finds that structural factors, such as ownership, government control, political power, and lack of resources impact a journalist’s level of knowledge on opinion polling. Most immediate interventions such as the need for universities and colleges to incorporate research methods courses in their curriculum and sponsoring journalists to workshops and fellowships on opinion polling with a view to bridging the knowledge gap are recommended.