A 1,000-person vox pop has been undertaken by a weekly freesheet to ask for readers’ views on an airport’s expansion.
Journalists at the Crawley News conducted the survey to gauge readers’ opinions on plans to build a second runway at nearby Gatwick airport, ahead of a vote on the proposal by the local authority.
The results were put into a four-page feature in last week’s paper with pie charts and a breakdown of what each neighbourhood in the town, age group and gender thought of the plan – with the accompanying front page designed by sub-editor Alex Leys, pictured below.
The eight-hour task collecting the data was undertaken by chief reporter Dave Comeau; reporters Chris Ballinger and Luke Warren; and Kimberley Ballard, who was spending time on work experience at the newspaper.
The News found 49.3pc of those surveyed favoured the new runway, with 27.5pc undecided and 23.2pc opposed.
Crawley Broough Council decided to oppose the expansion at a meeting held on Monday.
Said Dave: “As any journalist knows, vox pops can be an exercise in how well you can take rejection, and there was a fair bit of that due to the clipboard factor.
“We also had to discount anyone who didn’t live in Crawley, because the idea was to show Crawley Borough Council what its residents think ahead of the meeting yesterday at which the authority decided to oppose Gatwick expansion.
“With that in mind we asked everyone we spoke to for their neighbourhood as well so that individual councillors had no excuse that they have no idea what their constituents think.
“From attending meetings and speaking to councillors we have heard them say that they have had far more people contact them to express their opposition to a second runway, than to support it.
“That’s always going to happen. You don’t contact your local councillor if you are perfectly happy with something.
“So, the people of Crawley have been asked – albeit only about 1pc of the population – but it’s a better effort than any of our local councils have managed.”
Editor Andy Worden added: “Most editors will remember someone who they have had on work experience who has found even a five-person vox pop too much.
“And even for some reporters the idea will still make them feel a little queasy.
“So asking your team to undertake what was effectively a 1,000-person vox pop was never going to be the most popular request.
“Fortunately we have a team of enthusiastic and very willing reporters, who recognised the importance of what we were doing.”