By Richard Thornton
With stories of UK political parties fighting to gain votes in the run up to elections, and global news events, such as the Ukraine crisis, continuing to dominate our news feeds; public opinion has, more than ever, become vital to news stories.
Market research is often associated with brands wanting to steer campaigns using targeted audience feedback. It is, however, interesting to see how this is also becoming important to news channels, now that the mediums in which we receive news have increased. This has presented a need to innovate storytelling in order to bring a different dimension to a story.
A ‘human interest’ angle is a tactic regularly used to achieve this, as well as statistics, giving readers and viewers a flavour of public opinion which can help them in forming a point of view on the subject. For political parties trying to carry favour in an election campaign, this is also essential in finding out what resonates with the public. For world news events such as the Ukraine crisis, it’s interesting to understand the feeling on the ground which traditional news reports may not always capture.
We decided to conduct research of our own in order to gain insights from Crimean citizens, regarding their thoughts around the events that have been unfolding in their region since February 2014. We found some surprising results; 50 per cent of Ukrainians believe Crimea should be part of Russia, whereas 63 per cent of central Crimeans believe they should be part of Russia. These findings have helped put perspective on the situation, whilst highlighting the impact it’s having on people ‘on the ground’. Our survey was conducted on 1,539 individuals living in Ukraine, with differing opinions based on regions and reported ethnicity. This diverse sample gives us an understanding of how fractured the country is.
Our study also revealed that;
- Respondents now living in Crimea are the least worried about their safety compared to other regions.
- 71.32% of Crimeans would prefer to be governed by a Russian parliament.
- Only 11.79% of respondents living in Crimea think that they should become an independent state.
This kind of research will become increasingly prevalent in gaining insights into news stories such as the Crimea crisis. In addition to the useful content, online surveys also provide a safe and secure platform for people to share their thoughts on politically sensitive issues.
The key however, is to proceed with careful planning and to ensure best practices are used when considering research that will produce data to support either press releases or newsworthy articles. Survey design and the sample framework are key in order to ensure the data stacks up to scrutiny and remains credible. Too many stories are supported by poorly compiled research with data that only serves to sensationalise news and influence the reader, which does nothing to enhance the reputation or perception of the market research industry!
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