Responding to Colorado Media Matters, 9News says it's not a sponsor of SurveyUSA poll on Allard and did not consider it "all that newsworthy"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

9News vice president and news director Patti Dennis says that Colorado Media Matters' item noting that 9News' failure to report a SurveyUSA poll showing that Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) had the lowest approval rating of any U.S. senator was "based on a false assumption that '9News sponsored' this poll." However, SurveyUSA's website lists "KUSA-TV" as the poll's "media sponsor."

Responding by email to Colorado Media Matters' July 26 item noting KUSA 9News' failure to report a SurveyUSA poll showing that Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) had the lowest approval rating of any U.S. senator, 9News vice president and news director Patti Dennis stated that Colorado Media Matters' item was "based on a false assumption that '9News sponsored' this poll." However, SurveyUSA's website lists "KUSA-TV" as the poll's "media sponsor." Elsewhere on the website, SurveyUSA lists "KUSA-TV Denver" as one of the poll's "sponsors."

In a separate follow-up email, sent later on July 27, Dennis said that "it is inaccurate to say we decided not to run it. That needs to be clear in your story to make it accurate." Colorado Media Matters did not assert that 9News "decided not to run" the SurveyUSA poll; rather, Colorado Media Matters accurately noted that 9News "didn't report" the poll; "failed to report" the poll; "failed to inform its viewers about the" poll; and that "9News never mentioned" the poll. Later in her follow-up e-mail, Dennis stated: "The poll from Survey USA was not all that newsworthy as Time Magazine released a poll on the Worst Senators in America in April in which Sen. Allard came in among the bottom five. We reported that in multiple newscasts in April."

As of 6 p.m. MT on July 27, 9News had yet to report on the SurveyUSA poll.

Although Dennis argued that the SurveyUSA poll is "not all that newsworthy," the Rocky Mountain News reported on the poll in a July 26 Web-only article, noting that "[t]he survey of 600 adults in Colorado found that only 36 percent of voters approved of Allard's job performance, while 48 percent disapproved." According to SurveyUSA, Allard's approval rating was the lowest of any U.S. senator. Allard's "net" approval rating of -12 percent (his 36 percent approval rating minus his 48 percent disapproval rating) was the second-lowest in the country.

The headline of Colorado Media Matters' initial July 26 item stated that "9News didn't report results of a poll it sponsored." In response, Dennis wrote that the item was "based on a false assumption that '9News sponsored' this poll." According to Dennis, "9News did not sponsor or initiate a survey on Wayne Allard, nor did we ask for a survey on the Colorado Congressional representation." In her follow-up email, Dennis stated: "The Survey USA website refers to us as 'clients.' Our contract with Survey USA requires we pay them an annual fee for public opinion polls that we initiate. To suggest that we are a 'sponsor' is like saying we are a 'sponsor' of the Associated Press and therefore must run every story they provide us. We don't."

However, as Colorado Media Matters noted in the item to which Dennis responded, SurveyUSA's website specifically lists "KUSA-TV" as the poll's "media sponsor." SurveyUSA's website also lists "KUSA-TV Denver" and "KOB-TV Albuquerque" as the poll's "sponsors."

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SurveyUSA's website further states: "You must credit SurveyUSA and the media sponsor if you broadcast, print, or cite these results in whole or part."

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In its July 26 Web-only article on SurveyUSA's poll, the Rocky Mountain News reported: "U.S. Senator Wayne Allard's popularity in Colorado has dropped significantly, according to a SurveyUSA poll released today. ... The poll was conducted on behalf of KUSA-TV."

In her follow-up email, Dennis also stated: "I would hope accuracy is as important to you as it is to us. If we run a story on Colorado Media Matters and have to point out the incorrect information, I don't think it would be helpful to your cause."

From Dennis's first July 27 email response to Colorado Media Matters, reprinted with her permission:

The information in your online story is incorrect. 9News did not sponsor or initiate a survey on Wayne Allard, nor did we ask for a survey on the Colorado Congressional representation. We have a contract with Survey USA that allows us to initiate a poll on various matters daily. Survey USA does national polls without requests from member stations that we routinely do not air. You need to correct your story as it is based on a false assumption that "9News sponsored" this poll. Here is an excerpt from your website on the importance of accuracy and accountability:

"Our work is intended to help Colorado media deliver accurate and reliable information, and diverse views -- and to hold them accountable when they fail to do so."

Please call me if you have questions.

Patti Dennis
VP/News
KUSA

From Dennis's second July 27 email response to Colorado Media Matters, reprinted with her permission:

Thanks for the response. The Survey USA website refers to us as "clients". Our contract with Survey USA requires we pay them an annual fee for public opinion polls that we initiate. To suggest that we are a "sponsor" is like saying we are a "sponsor" of the Associated Press and therefore must run every story they provide us. We don't. Neither does any media outlet who has a contract with the AP or Survey USA. Therefore, it is inaccurate to say we decided not to run it. That needs to be clear in your story to make it accurate. I would hope accuracy is as important to you as it is to us. If we run a story on Colorado Media Matters and have to point out the incorrect information, I don't think it would be helpful to your cause. As for a response, you can use this e-mail as I think it makes it clear we use the surveys that we request based on news-of-the-day or issues that are already a part of the daily news dialogue in Colorado. The poll from Survey USA was not all that newsworthy as Time Magazine released a poll on the Worst Senators in America in April in which Sen. Allard came in among the bottom five. We reported that in multiple newscasts in April.

http://www.surveyusa.com/home.html

Patti Dennis
VP/News
KUSA

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