Paint-By-Numbers Journalism: How Reader Surveys and Focus Groups Subvert a Democratic Press

By Alison Carper

A paper by Alison Carper, spring 1994 fellow, responds to the increasing use of reader surveys and focus groups in journalism. She argues that this approach brings with it the risks of majoritarianism. Carper asks whether a press that takes its agendas from reader surveys and focus groups is a press that is truly fulfilling its role in American democracy.

Download the paper (PDF).