APM Research Lab

Entry type: Portfolio

Country/area: United States

Publishing organisation: APM Research Lab

Organisation size: Small

Cover letter:

The APM Research Lab, the now 5-year-old data journalism division of American Public Media, is pleased to submit our portfolio for your consideration this year. Specifically, we would like to draw your attention to the public opinion journalism that has grown out of our partnership with the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University. (See https://www.apmresearchlab.org/mood-of-the-nation-poll-motn.)

While there was plenty of journalism related to “horse race” election polling over the past year, this polling covered issues ranging from COVID-19 and public education to abortion and the war in Ukraine. In addition, the poll probed deeper themes, like Americans hopes, worries, freedom and rights. And it captured the sometimes-neglected voices of the “general public” in ways not done in traditional polling.

While the McCourtney Institute had been conducting its “Mood of the Nation Poll” for years, it had not received broad attention outside of academia prior to developing a partnership with the APM Research Lab. Our goal for the partnership was to conduct quicker-turn analysis of the poll (done approximately quarterly) and to bring the findings to a broader audience to help inform public debate and discussion. We feel that our journalistic approach to the data has done just that.

Description of portfolio:

In 2022 we published a series of eight articles based on two iterations of the McCourtney Institute’s Mood of the Nation Poll. The findings were brought to life through compelling and often interactive graphs as well as illustrative quotes directly from survey respondents.

These articles drew over 20,000 page views on our website, and a broader audience through engagement on social media and coverage in other outlets, including Marketplace, Politico’s weekly education report, The 74 million, Chalkbeat and Education Week (some of this coverage is shown in the links below).

We feel that public opinion research can be an important way to listen to average Americans who are not always centered in media coverage. Reporting on surveys that are properly conducted can give voice to those who are underrepresented and can help us better understand our friends and neighbors, as well as those with whom we might disagree.

The APM Research Lab believes that public opinion research must be conducted in a rigorous manner and that it is important to show the public how that work is done in order to help build trust and credibility. Toward that end, the Lab is an active member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s Transparency Initiative. Each of our survey reports includes a transparency discloure and methods report and our managing partner, Craig Helmstetter, is a member of AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative Coordinating Committee.

Project links: