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Former Gleaner editor-in-chief heads Stone Polling Organisation

Observer Reporter

Friday, September 01, 2006    

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Former editor-in-chief of The Gleaner, Wyvolyn Gager, has been appointed chief executive officer of the Stone Polling Organisation which is continuing the legacy of phenomenal Jamaican pollster, the late Professor Carl Stone.

Gager, who is currently in Guyana as part of a media team which monitored the just-concluded elections there, takes over the organisation under its new owners, Gorstew Limited, the holding company for the Appliance Traders (ATL) Group.

"I am extremely delighted to be a part of this traditionally respected survey," Gager said yesterday from Georgetown. "I am quite confident that we will be able to produce some interesting and useful results on various aspects of national life."

The first poll results to be published under the new team are currently being run by the Observer, which is also owned by Gorstew and for which the Stone Polling Organisation has conducted several polls in the past. The newspaper is the first client of the new organisation.

Gorstew plans to market the survey and polling services of the organisation throughout the Caribbean Community, drawing on the organisation's respected and experienced field team led by Hugh Marsh, under whom the polls developed its credibility over many years.

The field team is bolstered by an impressive new team of scholars headed by Dr Ian Boxill, professor of comparative sociology and head of the Sociology Department at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Boxill is a specialist in opinion and survey research.

The other experts on the team are:

. Dr Lawrence Alfred Powell, senior lecturer in methodology in the Department of Government at the UWI. His specialisations include cross-cultural survey research, political psychology and media politics;

. Dr Lloyd Weller, lecturer in the Department of Government at the UWI where he specialises in research methodology and etransformations in government and politics;

. Roy Russell, statistician, survey researcher and lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work; and

. Arlene Bailey, information systems specialist in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work.

"The new poll team maintains the use of Professor Stone's unique and near infallible techniques of gathering and interpreting information on the voting behaviour of Jamaicans," Gager said.

Rosemarie Stone, widow of the late Professor Carl Stone, is a consultant to the Stone Polls, ensuring continuity and quality control.

"Essentially, we have an excellent Stone Poll team," Mrs Stone noted. "With each member's experience and knowledge, they should continue to do very good work. I have every confidence in our interviewers, as they have all been a part of the team for years, and they have proven that they can be counted on to do good work."

Professor Stone introduced public opinion polling to Jamaica's political process in 1972 and over the years developed an enviable record of accurate predictions of the results of national elections. From the data he collected, he won kudos for charting the political behaviour of Jamaica's electorate.

His analyses led to the introduction of important methodologies which revolutionised political studies throughout the Caribbean region, and data regarding political attitudes and values of the majority lower classes became available for the first time through his work.

When Professor Stone died in 1993, his widow, Rosemarie, continued the tradition.

In response to concerns about whether the Stone Poll, under new ownership, would retain its stability and credibility, Mrs Stone said that the team had not changed with the ownership, and that the elements which had always given the poll its credibility also remain unchanged.

"The success of the Stone Polling Organisation and the preservation of the legacy of the great Carl Stone and Rosie Stone can only be guaranteed by the credibility and integrity of the polls that it conducts," said Chris Zacca, a director of Gorstew. "We intend to do everything to ensure that success."

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