John Robinson, former editor of the Greensboro News and Record, has recently been named the director of communications for the Elon Poll. Robinson will oversee the Elon Poll’s presence on social media platforms and will also analyze poll results for the media. He has 37 years of experience in the newspaper businesses, 27 of which were with the News and Record, and has worked as a reporter, city editor, editorial page editor, team management coach and editor. Robinson is also serving as an adjust instructor in the School of Communications.
Q: What is your interest in the Elon Poll?
If you Google me and Google my name and polls, you’ll find a series of blog posts on polls going back for some years where I make fun of polls. And what I really make fun of is the horse race polls, where everyday you know exactly what the approval rating for the president is, who is leading the GOP race, and it’s not really relevant to peoples’ daily lives. So when they talked to me about this poll and I started looking at what the Elon Poll did, I was impressed. I was impressed with how they asked questions and try to propose things that interest North Carolinians. It’s not horse race driven. It’s much more focused on what people are interested in. It’s issue driven.
Q: During your journalism career, you were noted to be one of the first editors to blog and emphasize social media. How do you plan on using that experience here at Elon and using social media with the Elon Poll?
My experience with blogs, Facebook and Twitter is that the successful people doing it are the ones who are interesting. They have a voice of some sort whether it’s humor or egregiousness or snark. They have a voice. And they try to be interesting. And they engage and respond to you. They don’t always broadcast their own poll results or opinions. And they have information. They have value. My sense is that the poll is the same way. My sense is there is a lot of information out there that people gather, and not just the Elon Poll, but other polls. If you are interested in politics and some of the issues in North Carolina or nationwide then it would be cool to have a polling site that curates that kind of information. So ultimately my goal, our goal, is that between Facebook, Twitter and the blog, which is not up yet, it can be a one-stop shop. If you’re interested in that kind of thing and come to the Elon Poll site and find interesting stuff there about the issues of the day that are in North Carolina and nationwide.
Q: Describe your new position with the Elon Poll and how it differs from the director of the Elon Poll?
Eventually, it may not. Eventually, they may not need me. To a great extent we’ll see. I’ve met Mileah (Kromer, assistant director of the Elon Poll,) but she is leaving. The new director and his assistant will do the polling, but neither of them are from North Carolina. They don’t know North Carolina issues and they don’t know the sense of history. And I do. So, really, my job is to help them figure out some of the significance of the poll results. Presumably, I would help with some of the questions, but still fiddling with that, and help with the interpretations of the poll results. And I know a lot of the media people out there so I am really here to help raise the visibility of the poll.
Q: If there is one thing you want Elon students and the greater Elon community to know, what would it be?
Well first it’s to follow Elon Poll on Twitter and “like” the Elon Poll page on Facebook. And I think it’s being aware of what the Elon Poll is. Other than Elon sports, the Elon Poll is one of the highest profile things the university does outside of the campus environment. And I would hope students would be engaged with it, either by following it and being interested in singular issues or telling me things. Engage with the page and help us. It’s an academic institution and we are all here to better ourselves and the same thing is true for the poll.
Compiled by Anna Johnson, Senior Reporter