Can some major media outlet please give David Weakliem a regular column, as soon as possible?

David Weakliem is a sociology professor who has a blog on public opinion. He produces an impressive stream of thoughtful, surprising, nonpartisan, non-“hot-take,” takes on public opinion. There’s nothing else like this out there. Dude should have a regular column at the Washington Post or Reuters or Bloomberg or the Economist or some legit journalistic outlet. He should be getting millions of readers a week, not just the few dozen or whatever who trickle over from our links page.

He has recent posts on national levels of trust; the ways that people view others at different education levels; politics and covid rates by state; social class and opinions on covid restrictions; abortion and abortion reporting; voter suppression; and lots more.

I can see how Weakliem’s blog doesn’t quite fit into the usual model of newspaper columns, because he gets into some methodological details sometimes. But I think he could make it work. He can keep the blog as backup, but for the weekly newspaper column he’d focus on the public debate and policy implications, giving just the key numbers or graph to make his point.

I seriously think this should happen. Not if the goal is raw clicks or social media presence, but if the goal is to inform readers and get some respect among people who care about public opinion. Some news organizations would want that.

7 thoughts on “Can some major media outlet please give David Weakliem a regular column, as soon as possible?

  1. You want a major media outlet to do “unbiased” journalism? *head shake*. Who would read it? :) From the media point of view, that’s just not going to sell adds.

    From the scientific point of view, it’s nice that he reports opinions, but public opinion on single issues often isn’t translated directly into action. That’s because responding to a poll costs nothing and requires no consideration of other factors. OTHO, doing something almost always costs something which forces people to consider other factors. For example, I’ve read that there are many public opinion polls suggesting that people support “action” on climate change, but somehow when gasoline prices rise, people get very unhappy. So “supporting action” and paying more for gas are apparently two different things.

    And all of the above presumes that people are answering what they dearly believe. As we know with polls, people answer questions in unpredictable ways for unpredictable reasons.

    • Chipmunk:

      I’m not suggesting that the newspaper’s political coverage be only about public opinion, nor am I suggesting that Weakliem be a newspaper’s only columnist. Rather, public opinion is and always will be part of the newspaper’s political coverage, and, given that, I think a weekly column by Weakliem would be an excellent addition.

  2. The blog isn’t so different from some of the stuff on FiveThirtyEight, maybe they could hire him or invite him to do occasional guest columns or something.

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