Tony de Velasco 
Member since Aug 13, 2018



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Re: “Strickland‘s Amen Corner

Jackson Baker, I missed you yesterday at the Marek event. Wanted to discuss this face to face, but I missed my chance before you left. There's a lot behind my concern here that (perhaps unfairly to you) involves factors and people that you can't be held responsible for. It would have been good to talk informally in a setting that allowed for tone, purpose, etc. to be more obvious and for me to hear from you about the challenges you surely face in trying to report about polls in this race, given that we dont have ANY that can be reviewed by readers.

At the same time...the allusion's "quizzical" aspect depends on the presumed solidity of the object to which you are alluding. The data point reads: "polls showing Strickland holding his own with the black vote, as he did in 2015." But theres no indication about where these polls (and why the plural? are there more than one?) even come from. Thats seems off, to me, and even more off when we learn that the source is the Sanford piece, whose sourcing is also cloudy.

I am asking that when you make allusions to private polls produced by interested campaigns that you provide a caveat of some kind. Why not do that? That would not take much. And it would echo "best practices" cited above. Bruce argues that this would jeopardize the sources you need and rely upon, but I wonder if there's a way to help readers without doing that.

I make a lot of this, because to my eyes the column obscures important context that can help readers to better judge the quality and kind of information used to frame the race. You make the poll reference at the conclusion of the piece. It drives home the point that the photo communicates. It is added to relate one to the other; light on the quizzical in my view, but heavy with implication.

Finally, I am surprised that you would make this AT ALL about my questioning the credentials or integrity or sincerity of these men and women in the photo. I did no such thing by asking the Flyer for clarification on this. I'm talking about and to the prose published above, not about or to the nature of whether these clergy represent the political leanings of their flock when it comes to the mayor's race. That the Strickland campaign would invite them to appear in a photo with him and then they accept is a different matter than my question about how these things get written when it comes to polling and framing the race.

Posted by Tony de Velasco on 09/18/2019 at 4:16 PM

Re: “Strickland‘s Amen Corner

This part in particular:

"Many surveys are conducted by partisan actors political consulting firms, industry groups and candidates. In some cases, the findings are biased by factors such as respondent selection and question wording. Partisan-based polls need to be carefully scrutinized and, when possible, reported in comparison with nonpartisan poll results."

The "when possible" part here is a problem, of course, because there are no independent polls out there...yet. So why not just say that? I realize that I am not an unbiased party here, but I do hope maybe down the line this can be included in the mix of things to think about.

Posted by Tony de Velasco on 09/13/2019 at 12:02 PM

Re: “Strickland‘s Amen Corner

Thanks for responding, Bruce. I hear you re: SOP on this. But I think the "as fact" effect in both pieces is problematic, given the lack of any caveat to help readers parse things out. I don't see the line between "as fact" and "points of information" as one that most readers would accept, though maybe they are terms of art in journalism.

I understand the distinction, but in this case I think it's a lot fuzzier. My reading is that JB's story passes over the source here - and that's not to protect the source or the relationship, of course, since it's now secondhand. I think he just assumes it's true, so no need to even qualify. Maybe so! But a sentence or two of qualification/context could deal with this.

Again, there are no public polls of this race. So there's no yardstick. When a reporter uses numbers from a campaign that clearly has an interest in how things are reported out, I just think it better to contextualize so as to make that more visible.

I think this link echoes some of my concerns, because it makes explicit the variety of ways to think about how polls are used in political reporting.…

Posted by Tony de Velasco on 09/13/2019 at 11:55 AM

Re: “Strickland‘s Amen Corner

Thanks. But it seems that this from a more than a month ago. And it's an opinion piece that itself uses major hedges. "I am told that" doesn't even say whether Mr. Sanford saw these, or had any kind of information on how they were conducted, etc.. My beef here is not the reporting itself, but the fact the we have no other yardstick to use. If that were mentioned - "we have no polls to draw from outside of what one of the campaigns told Sanford in July" - that would be much more informative, in my view.

Obviously, quoting campaigns on "background" about their internal polling is common. But this is typically done in terms of a comparison/contrast with other polls, sources from other campaigns.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Tony de Velasco on 09/13/2019 at 10:27 AM

Re: “Strickland‘s Amen Corner

Mr. Baker, please, can you CITE THESE POLLS? Which polls!?

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tony de Velasco on 09/10/2019 at 1:01 PM

Re: “Strickland Leads Mayoral Fund-raising Race; TN Lege Rushes to Close

Mr. Wilson has since clarified that those numbers are NOT first quarter totals. Can you please correct? Mr. Poe corrected his 4/15 CA column on 4/17 to remedy this error.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tony de Velasco on 04/22/2019 at 8:58 AM

Re: “Report: Memphis Sees Gentrification Without Displacement

Very interesting. But the headline SEES made me think this is recent data. It might say instead Report: Memphis Saw Gentrification Without Displacement from 2000-2013.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tony de Velasco on 03/29/2019 at 1:17 AM

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