More than a hundred Georgia news organizations have joined to release a poll of the state’s likely voters, a new initiative to provide comprehensive news and political coverage in the Peach State.
The survey, conducted by The University of Georgia, will focus on key issues such as abortion and gun laws and closely watched races for the Senate and Governor’s Mansion. The poll is a pilot project for the emerging Georgia News Collaborative, an effort by media organizations across the state to strengthen the ecosystem for local news and provide better coverage for Georgia citizens.
“It’s remarkable that news outlets across the state are coming together to increase quality, fact-based journalism for countless communities,” said Penelope McPhee, volunteer lead for the Georgia News Collaborative. “This will show not only the power and reach of the press in Georgia – but also the trustworthiness of our individual and collective efforts, and how we can reach new heights when we come together.”
The Georgia News Collaborative is comprised of organizations and people with a passion for strengthening local news in Georgia. The group started to take shape last year, and members represent a diverse array of geographies, media types and constituencies. The goal is to think differently about how media organizations can work together rather than compete to better strengthen democracy and serve Georgia communities. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is one of the founding members.
“Now more than ever, it’s essential for all of us in the local news ecosystem to come together and find new ways to deliver credible journalism on the most important issues facing Georgia voters,” said Kevin Riley, editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “By working together on this polling survey, we’re creating new opportunities to get more information out there where it’s needed.”
Collaborative members will have access to results from a survey of likely voters for the 2022 general elections. Questions focus on key issues such as the state’s economy, voting rights and the cost of living. A second survey is planned and will focus on the opinions of minority voters, which are becoming an increasingly powerful electorate in Georgia politics.
Local news is perishing across the nation, and Georgia has been hit hard. According to one study, the number of newspapers in Georgia gas decreased by 21 percent since 2004, and in some counties, there isn’t a dedicated source for local news.
Georgia residents without access to credible, local news are more vulnerable to misinformation, community detachment, low civic participation and potentially higher public official corruption and negligence.
The Georgia News Collaborative envisions a future in Georgia where all 159 counties have high-quality local news coverage for vital local topics including education, economics, environment, politics, public affairs, health and wellbeing.
“People come to reliable news organizations during elections to get the real stories and this year, we can deliver the essential information across the state in a way no single organization has been able to before,” said Robin Rhodes, executive director of the Georgia Press Association, one of the participants. “With the Georgia News Collaborative, we’re really painting broad strokes with the largest paintbrush we’ve ever held — and it’s exciting to be here … and to know this is just the beginning.”
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com