Reporting on Polls: Headlines, Margins of Error and Other Fundamentals

This Webinar was originally broadcast on:
September 13, 2018 Enroll Now
Watch and listen to the original one-hour Webinar in its entirety. This Webinar recording features the full presentation led by Poynter faculty and visiting faculty including Q&A from the audience and resources from the presenter.

Course Overview

Reporting on Polls: Headlines, Margins of Error and Other Fundamentals
Originally Broadcast On:
September 13, 2018
Time Estimate:
Thirty minutes. Sometimes presenters stay a little longer to answer questions.

About Webinars

In this virtual classroom, participants can join in a seminar led by Poynter faculty and visiting faculty. This screencast includes live audio and a slideshow presentation in which participants can post questions and respond to poll questions posed by the host.

Midterm elections are coming up and there are polls popping up left and right. This webinar will quickly go over tips about how to cover polling results, mine data and understand margins of error so that you have the confidence to write about numbers and report stories news consumers are less likely to misinterpret.

What Will I Learn:
  • What a margin of error means
  • Not reporting leads in horse race polls when there aren’t any
  • Writing clear and accurate headlines about polling data
  • How to find polls
Who Should Take this Course:
  • Reporters who will be covering midterm elections and want to hone their poll coverage skills
  • Students or novice reporters who want to learn more about how to use polls in their stories
Course Instructor:

Emily Guskin

Emily Guskin is the polling analyst at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy. Before joining The Post in 2016, she was a research manager at APCO Worldwide and prior to that was a research analyst at the Pew Research Center's Journalism Project. She has a master’s in public policy from Rutgers University and bachelors’ degrees in communication and government and politics from the University of Maryland.

Training Partner:

American Association for Public Opinion Research

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) is the leading professional organization of public opinion and survey research professionals in the U.S., with members from academia, media, government, the non-profit sector and private industry.

Technical Requirements:

1.4GHz Intel® Pentium® 4 or faster processor (or equivalent) for Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1
512MB of RAM (1GB recommended) for Windows 7 or Windows 8
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10, 11; Mozilla Firefox; Google Chrome
Adobe® Flash® Player 11.2+

1.83GHz Intel Core™ Duo or faster processor
512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)
Mac OS X 10.7.4, 10.8, 10.9
Mozilla Firefox; Apple Safari; Google Chrome
Adobe Flash Player 11.2+

Bandwidth - 1.5 Mbits/sec up and down. We strongly suggest viewing our Webinars with a wired connection.

Some networks, especially those that use a proxy server, may encounter difficulty connecting to our Webinar software. If this is your first Poynter NewsU Webinar, please test your connection.

This Webinar contains audio. Please adjust your headphones or speakers.

Questions? Read our Webinar FAQ or contact us at

You can watch our Live Webinars on your iPad with a free Adobe Connect app. To watch Webinar replays, your iPad must be able to view Flash media players. The Live Webinar experience on your iPad is very similar to watching it from your computer. You can watch the video, follow the presentation, respond to polling questions, ask the presenter questions and participate in any discussion forums.

Download the free Adobe Connect app from iTunes here. To access the live event, click on the "Join Live Event Now" button on the Webinar landing page. The virtual room will automatically load. Viewing recorded Webinars on iOS devices is not currently supported.