Episode #6 - The Parallels Between Principles of Research and Journalism
In this episode of the MRX Lab podcast from FlexMR, we talk about journalism. Because journalism and research have a surprising amount in common, and there’s a lot we can learn by investigating the principles that underpin the profession.
The podcast is framed around the question of what it means to drive informed decisions. We typically think of this as getting the right data to (and from) the right people at the right time. However, for modern insight professionals, there is a step missing. informing decisions in today’s fast paced world is about more than that – it’s about telling the right story with that data. Because no matter how objective we try to be, as researchers, our audience will always read a narrative into the data we present. It’s human nature; an immutable fact of life.
Of course, finding the right story is tough. Not just from a practical point of view, but also because influencing the story that data tells introduces a set of ethical, moral and commercial challenges. To discover what it means to tell the right story, and navigate these challenges – we look at principles developed by the Ethical Journalism Network and the American Press Association that guide journalists through the same set of questions.
As we begin to explore the principles, we turn our focus to three in particular: striving to be truthful and accurate, the importance of being independent and loyalty to citizens. We also investigate the concept of proportionality. An important metaphor that draws together the parallels that we look at, proportionality is best described as a metaphor.
Think of journalists and researchers as cartographers. It's our job to draw a map. The first decision to make is how much to draw. If we draw too much, we aren’t able to see where we start or end because there’s too much surrounding context, the directions are lost in the excess. But if we draw too little, we don’t have enough context to orient ourselves correctly.
But a map is no good if no-one reads it. So, in addition to making smart decisions about scope, we also cover the literary devices we can borrow from the journalistic profession in order to keep readers and stakeholders engaged. And finally we take a cursory look at the inverted pyramid model – a theory that guides how both researchers and journalists alike should begin to structure engaging, impactful stories.