Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 26, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Jason Manning


  • Washington Post Politics Editor Jason Manning joins HORIZON to talk about new technologies in newsgathering.
Guests:
  • Dr. Bruce Merrill - Director, Cronkite/Eight poll
  • Tara Blanc - Assistant Director, Cronkite/Eight poll
  • Jason Manning - Politics editor, Washingtonpost.com


View Transcript
Tonight on horizon, what do Arizona voters think about the race between John McCain and either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? Find out as we release the results of the latest Cronkite/eight poll. Plus we continue our series on baby boomers in the workplace. We profile a local organization commended for its older worker program. and Washington post politics editor Jason Manning joins us to talk about new technologies in newsgathering, those stories, next on horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Hello, welcome to horizon. I'm Ted Simons. Senator John McCain gets more support than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in Arizona, but Arizona voters think Obama can beat McCain. Those questioned in the latest Cronkite/eight poll also do not support guns in schools. The poll was conducted February 21 through 24 by KAET eight T.V. the Walter Cronkite school of journalism and mass communication at Arizona state university. 552 registered Arizona voters were interviewed and the margin of error, 4.1\%.

Mike Sauceda:
The Cronkite/eight poll found that in a head-to-head competition, Arizona senator John McCain would beat Illinois senator Barack Obama 49 to 38\%. McCain would beat Senator Hillary Clinton 57 to 33\%. We asked those surveyed who would win in a McCain Obama race, 44\% Obama, 38\% thought McCain would win. We asked the same about a McCain Clinton race, 59\% thought McCain would win, while 26 pass thought Clinton would win. Speaking of senator McCain, we asked whether people were aware of allegations he had an improper relationship with a lobbyist and gave her special consideration 90\% said yes with 10\% saying no. 59\% said the allegations were not at all believable. 27\% said they were somewhat believable. While 6\% they were very believable. Moving on to Arizona issues, 49\% of those we surveyed said they would vote for an amendment to the Arizona constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one wop. 40\% are against such a measure. We asked whether people support a measure considered by the state legislature allowing handguns to be brought into public schools and universities. 73\% oppose that measure, 20\% support it. We asked a couple of immigration-related questions, 79\% support Phoenix's change in policy that allows police officers to ask about immigration status when someone is accused of a crime. 13\% are against that. And 75\% are for a bill being proposed by the state legislature that would set up a guest worker program for workers from Mexico, 18\% oppose that bill.

Ted Simons:
Here to discuss the Cronkite/eight poll, director Dr. Bruce Merrill and the associate director of the poll, Tara Blanc. Thank you both for joining us.

Brue Merrill:
Good to be here.

Ted Simons:
Bruce, McCain wins Arizona against either Obama or Clinton.

Bruce Merrill:
Well, if he does, this is Arizona. He lives here. People are proud of the senator. And that's kind of a hometown advantage. But what was really quite interesting is when we did ask whether or not people in Arizona felt the senator could beat Obama and Clinton, they didn't think he could beat Obama, but they did think that he could beat Clinton, and of course the significance of this, Ted, is that I'm sure that the McCain people are hoping they get Hillary Clinton rather than Obama.

Ted Simons:
As far as his numbers against Obama and numbers against Clinton, even with that thought in the back of the head that he's probably not going to win anyway, which most voters are Apparently say, were those numbers pretty strong?

Bruce Merrill:
Oh, yes. You know, it's early. He doesn't even have the nomination yet and we don't know who he's going to run against. That's what campaigns are all about. A lot could happen. All it measures is people in Arizona are proud of the senator, want to support him, and as I said, I think it also shows what the national polls are showing, that Obama is really a very popular candidate and gaining strength every day.

Ted Simons:
Tara, are you surprised at all that the numbers are that different between Obama and Clinton against McCain here in Arizona?

Tara Blanc:
Well, actually where we found the difference to be was among independent voters. The republicans obviously are strongly in favor of McCain. Democrats, if you recall before the primary, democrats in Arizona supported Clinton more strongly than Obama. She won the primary in Arizona. The real difference is among independent voters, which is very interesting. This tends to be very, very strong part of john McCain's base. But when we look at Obama they split almost evenly between McCain and Obama. When you look at independents regarding Clinton and McCain they split heavy for McCain and that is the difference we found in how people thought the outcome of the election would be.

Ted Simons:
Did you see much in the way Of crossover voting as far as democrats maybe going for McCain and vice versa?

Tara Blanc:
There was some crossover but pretty evenly split, about 20, 20\% of republicans crossing over to vote for a democratic candidate and 20\% of democrats crossing over to vote for McCain, so that really wasn't a factor in this particular poll.

Ted Simons:
Are you seeing in Arizona back to the independents, are they starting to seem to make some kind of sense as far as what they really like and where they really stand?

Tara Blanc:
Well, again, I suspect that they look at Obama as maybe more of a centrist and less polarizing than Clinton. I suspect that might be part of the draw for independents. And our primary system in which independents couldn't have a vote, now that we're heading toward a general election I think we'll begin to hear more about what they want and expect from a candidate.

Ted Simons:
Bruce, what are you seeing as far as trends, are things getting better for Obama in Arizona and worse for Clinton here as elsewhere?

Bruce Merrill:
Yeah, I think so. I agree with Tara's comment, plus I think what you have to keep in mind is that this new group of people that have become independent in the last election, they were responsible for the democrats' winning, independents in the last election voted democrat 2-1, largely because they wanted us out of the war, and I really think that in this particular election that in general, Independents are going to tend to vote more democratic than republican, and that is a trend that's been continuing for the last two to four years.

Ted Simons:
On most issues, but with john McCain, he still draws that independent vote

Bruce Merrill:
He draws almost all of them against Hillary Clinton. But as Tara said, he splits them pretty much when you face McCain and Obama they divide pretty evenly.

Ted Simons:
Are you seeing the same in national surveys? Are we similar to the rest of the country?

Bruce Merrill:
We really are, and in fact the national polls show Obama beating the senator by 11 to 12 percentage points and show Hillary Clinton beating the senator by about five. And that's why one of my comments was that I'm sure the senator hopes that they get Clinton rather than Obama.

Ted Simons:
I'm sure the senator also hopes the New York sometimes doesn't do any more stories on him, but they've already started that process. Tara, does it seem to make much difference to voters?

Tara Blanc:
Not in Arizona. We ask how many -- ask our respondents if they heard about the allegations and we started the poll the day the New York times story broke, and 90\% of those interviewed had heard about the allegations, but only about 30 -- 6\% found it very believable and 20 some odd thought it was somewhat believable. The majority of the people who heard about the allegations just depended find them believable And I suspect a lot of that comes from loyalty to the senator, certainly when we looked at how it broke along party lines, the majority of the people who found it believable were democrats versus Republican. So it has a little bit to do with selective perception and what you see about the candidates you like.

Ted Simons:
Do you remember at all how independents thought about this any.

Tara Blanc:
Don't remember how they split on that. Did you take a look at that?

Bruce Merrill:
Yeah, 85\% of the people that found the allegations believable were democrats that wouldn't vote for McCain anyway. And as Tara said that's what you would expect really.

Ted Simons:
Let's move on to phoenix police asking for proof of legal status. The recommendations made by the panel. Interesting numbers there.

Tara Blanc:
Not really, honestly, because we found over and over again when we asked questions about immigration issues that people are very strongly supportive of anything that they see as cracking down on illegal immigration. And they see this obviously as something that would crack down on illegal immigration, so the percentage of people who said they would support such a thing is right in line with what we've seen in previous polls about all kinds of measures that would supposedly crack down on immigration. The interesting part was when you look at the guest worker Program, we also ask about the proposal to create a guest worker program specifically for workers from Mexico. We see the same result that we've seen also, that people are highly in favor of the guest worker program, and it's an indication that voters in Arizona really see immigration as a multifaceted issue. It's not just lumped together as one thing. They see the need for stemming the flow so to speak, but they also see the need for how do we deal with people here, plus the need for having immigrants to fill certain jobs other people won't take.

Ted Simons:
Bruce some lawmakers see the need for guns in schools. Doesn't sound like a lot of voters do.

Bruce Merrill:
No, they don't. And I don't really, Ted, think this is a gun control measure, I think it's a kids and guns measure. 75\% of the people talked to do not support this proposal. And I know it's a complex issue and there's arguments in favor or against, but I think for most people, guns and kids just don't mix.

Ted Simons:
Ok. What about marriage and gay marriage. How does that mix as far as Arizona voters are concerned?

Bruce Merrill:
Well, what we found is basically what we found last time talking about trends and patterns, if you just say that the proposal to amend the constitution would be just to define marriage as between one man and one woman, that will pass in Arizona. The only reason it didn't pass last time was the proposal that was part of it that denied domestic benefits to gay partners. You take that out, there's no reason that it shouldn't pass here in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
Even when voters are aware we're talking about changing the constitution here.

>> Yeah, and I think that that's why the support isn't quite as high as it was before. A lot of conservatives that may be against gay marriage don't want to mess around with changing the constitution. So I think the fact that this time it is a constitutional amendment will be a factor.

Ted Simons:
Tara, one thing out of survey that surprised you most?

Tara Blanc:
For me I think it was the fact that people in Arizona felt Obama would beat McCain in the national election, for me that was the most surprising result.

Ted Simons:
And Bruce, any surprises?

Bruce Merrill:
Well, I think for me more than anything it's the fact that independents are really splitting in the McCain Obama race because that's been the traditional basis of support of senator McCain.

Ted Simons: All right. Well, very good stuff. Thank you both for joining us, we appreciate it.

Ted Simons: The Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons, AARP, has named Scottsdale healthcare one of the best employers in the country for the last five years. The organization cites the hospital's seasonal leave program as an especially valuable option for mature Employees who are nearing retirement but not ready to stop working. In the second part of our series, baby boomers, preparing for an aging workforce, Larry Lemmons tells us why Scottsdale healthcare understands the value of experience.

Larry Lemmons:
She makes this journey down the hallway several times during the course of the day. A registered nurse at Scottsdale healthcare, Kathleen Stelter is devoted to her patients.

Kathleen Stelter:
Hi, I'm here with your medicine. I was for many years, when I decided to go back to school to be an r.n. I couldn't think of anything else I really wanted to do, so, you know, it's been very good to me and hopefully, you know, I reciprocated.

Larry Lemmons:
She's sort of a working snow bird. She's from New York but travels to the valley for half the year to work at the hospital and be closer to her family in Arizona. She can do this because of Scottsdale Healthcare flexible work schedule for older workers. The hospital has been recognized by the AARP for the last five years.

Judie Goe:
Our seasonal program, which is very attractive to our older workers, requires them to work six months out of the year, and they can break that up however they negotiate that with their manager and based on the needs of their particular departments, so we have some of our older workers that work three months and take a month off and then by -- while they're off for that month, we cover all of their benefits so they have no contributions to the medical and dental plans during the times that they're off.

Larry Lemmons:
By offering full benefits for older workers who may prefer flexible schedules or any worker who puts in at least 16 hours a week, Scottsdale healthcare is preserving something that is too often lost when workers retire.

Jodie Goe:
We want to be able to keep that extensive knowledge of not only the medical field that they bring but also of the culture of Scottsdale healthcare. We pride ourselves in a very employee-driven culture and one that's very supportive, very patient, family friendly, and that is something that if you were to lose the numbers of folks that we have that are over the age of 50, we would lose that synergy that our younger workers as they come in to the workplace learn from our more tenured employees.

Kathleen Stelter:
We have a lot of young nurses on our unit. And so yeah, I think it works both ways. I learn a lot from them also. And that's the nice thing about it too is because you're always learning and I've been a nurse for so long and, you know, things have changed, technology, computers, and so I probably learned maybe even more from them.

Kathleen Stelter:
Those pain medications you got in the morning, were they helpful?

Patient:
The pain pills?

Kathleen Stelter:
The pain pills.

Patient:
Yeah, my back was killing me and now it's not hurting that bad right now.

Kathleen Stelter:
Good.

Kathleen Stelter:
I have to honestly say this is the place that really feels like home. The girls here are great, very supportive, they help each other out, and I just like the unit very much and it's a great mix of patients.

Larry Lemmons:
There may be many reasons why people choose not to quit working entirely at some point in their lives. The primary reason may be that they can't afford to do so. On the other hand, there is a very good reason to stay active.

Jodie Goe:
People retire at age 65 and if they don't have additional activities to keep them busy, they a lot of times become sick and die at an early age because they've lost their focus and their goals and so this really allows our older worker to transition into a retirement lifestyle.

Larry Lemmons:
It helps Kathleen Stelter of course, that nurses are so much in demand across the country. Still, she's just happy that in a world of change and distance, the hospital's policies allow her more time with her family.

Kathleen Stelter:
We felt we were going to be able to get to know our grandchildren, being so far away, so I figure I can, you know, as you say, our field is wide open and very easy to obtain a job, so I thought why not.

Ted Simons:
Tomorrow we complete our series with a visit to a job fair for older workers and a look at a program at Rio Salado College to prepare workers and employers for an aging workforce. Jason Manning is a politics editor at the Washington post and a Hearst visiting professional, formerly editor for PBS' online news hour, responsible for national news and coordination of coverage with 200 PBS member stations. I spoke with him yesterday about being on the edge of the new evolution of new technologies in the field of news gathering. Jason, thank you so much for joining us.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
I.T. news-gathering, how is it different from the old -- maybe not so old, newspaper broadcasting days?

Jason Manning:
Well, in some ways it's not that different. Many of the fundamentals of reporting and of journalism are the same. You know, we don't lower any of the traditional journalistic standards to do multimedia reporting or to do web journalism. But I think the speed in which we gather and report information is faster. I think the format obviously requires different skills. Reporters these days are really expected to have some multimedia skills, some skill for video and audio and going in front of a camera and so I think there are things that have changed over the years but the fundamental story gathering and journalism techniques have stayed the same.

Ted Simons:
With those techniques and high speed nature and instant nature of everything and the repetitive nature of everything, once it's on the internet, it lives forever, how does that change what you've seen as far as the campaigns?

Jason Manning:
Oh, there's no doubt that the campaigns move very quickly these days. To try to control a story, to respond to an attack, to respond To any sort of, well, to respond to a negative story or a positive story. In response to a negative story, campaign moving very quickly to put out its side of the issue, or to refute things that they claim as wrong in a story. And if it's a positive story, we're very quick to disseminate it and distribute it to supporters and foes alike. So the campaigns are very dialed in to this new world.

Ted Simons:
To that end, are we seeing the I.T. age a little more in the way of substance over style? A lot of concern the television, it was all telegenic and nothing underneath. With so much emphasis on the internet and a lot of words on that screen and a lot of ability to follow as you say campaigns, is substance making a comeback?

Jason Manning:
I hope so. I like to think at the Washington Post our journalism is very substantive. I think it depends on the organization and the particular journalist's approach, I think the danger is there, you know, to be superficial. You can be -- it's very easy to do very superficial work in these media and these formats we're talking about. But as you say, there's opportunity to do so much more and to go so much deeper and provide so much more information, and that's the challenge and the opportunity we face.

Ted Simons:
Conversely, can voters be inundated with too much information?

Jason Manning:
I think so. It's a challenge and a question that we face. It's a challenge that we've discussed here at the Journalism school at ASU, how do you deal with a flood of information. The volume of content that we put out now is so high that it's almost impossible for one person to consume everything that we put out in a day. That's not true of the daily newspaper, you know, one person can sit and read the daily paper. So the challenge and the onus is on us to provide ways to navigate all of that information. And to provide ways for readers and viewers to process all of it and a lot of the things that we are doing now are moving us toward personalization, where people can come in and hopefully easily find the things that are most important to them and make decisions based on the issues in a political campaign, for example, the issues that are most important to them.

Ted Simons:
In terms of something like as basic and simple as fact checking, the dynamics there, how do they change when there is so much information, it's on the web, things are flying in from here and flying in from there, talk about how that maybe has changed in the I.T. age.

Jason Manning:
Well, I think one thing is as we've discussed here, we move much faster, much more quickly, and the danger in that is that is not having as much time to sort of vet the story and vet facts. On the other hand, we have so many tools at our disposal to do research and to find information quickly and to verify information quickly. That it really is for all the challenge that comes with it, the blessing of the technology helps us meet the challenge. We're able to move quickly into our research very quickly. But again, we have to maintain the same journalistic standards that have been the sort of bulwark of great journalism all along.

Ted Simons:
You ask that because there are things on the net like Wikipedia, which has not necessarily been accurate and some people are using it as a source. I would imagine reporters, editors, got to be careful of that kind of stuff.

Jason Manning:
Definitely. There are sources out there that are problematic and Wikipedia would be one of them. And but just like in the old shoe leather days, you know, you learn what your reliable sources are and you use them and you always look for more and new reliable sources as you move forward.

Ted Simons:
I know that the word Makaka has become, you know, institutionalized in terms of politics and especially in this information age. Talk about how maybe that one incident has changed campaigns and maybe politicians as to what they feel they can get away with or what they need to watch what they're saying out in public?

Jason Manning:
That's right, the 2006 campaign was the midterm elections in 2006 presented the first campaign where Youtube was becoming a sort of dominant feature in our culture and the Makaka moment George Allen had in the U.S. senate race in Virginia, you know, has held up as an example of the peril that candidates face. You know when they're on camera really 24 hours a day now or if not 24 hours a day, at least as long as they're in public, they can expect that a camera is trained on them the whole time. So I think it has changed the way campaigns operate. I think they're much more careful now. I think they're very aware, at least they try to be, of that person with the camera, that person tracking them. I think they try to stay on message and be even more disciplined. They're already moving that way before the Makaka moment in 2006, but it just reiterated this idea that they stay on message. And it's a challenge for journalists who want candidates to be spontaneous, to answer specific questions, to be original, and so there is a friction there between the press and the campaigns these days. Because of things like Youtube and the idea that anything they say they could see on the internet in a video.

Ted Simons:
All right. Well, Jason, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

Jason Manning:
You're welcome. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Tomorrow part three of our series on baby boomers in the workforce, plus an update on what's happening at the state capitol and African-American history in Arizona. That's tomorrow on horizon. And a reminder, you can catch past horizon programs on our website, azpbs.org/horizon. That's it for now, thanks for joining us. I'm Ted Simons, you have a great evening.

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