Public Values

Focus on public servants and their rights to win fight over cuts — Gallup

Centring debate over public sector cuts on how individual workers are affected can make difference in battle for US public opinion.

Newport: Americans may be reluctant to endorse removing rights but more willing to curtail power.Democratic activists and unions will have more public influence in the debate over service cuts if they focus on the effect on individual workers and their rights, according to a leading American pollster.

In his blog, Polling Matters, Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport offers insight into the effects of linguistic subtleties in news headlines, including influencing public opinion. Newport's is a valuable discussion on how the framing of issues conveys various agendas/lessons/values. Since we are in this very business here at PublicValues.ca, our readers may recognize Newport's discourse.

"Two headlines Thursday March 10 highlighted how the same political action can be described in different ways by different observers. The political action I'm talking about here is the vote by Wisconsin Senate Republicans relating to Wisconsin's state employee unions. The Washington Post's headline Thursday morning on their website was as follows: 'Wis. Senate Strips Workers' Bargaining Rights.' The New York Times headline Thursday morning on their website was: 'Wisconsin Senate Limits Bargaining by Public Workers.'

To the casual observer, these headlines might seem similar. But the results of two recent Gallup surveys show how these types of wording differences can produce different reactions from the American public..."

For the complete blog post, please click here.

Posted: March 17, 2011

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