Wednesday, January 13, 2010...1:30 pm

Using research as the basis for a story: a guide

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I slated recent BBC (and other) coverage of a survey on how children seem to be failing to learn to talk. Luckily for the media, here’s a handy guide from pressure group Panos on how to approach research to create better journalism.
Panos has its own agenda, of course (promoting “the participation of poor and marginalised people in national and international development debates through media and communication projects”, since you ask). But there’s some useful guidance here – especially given how rubbish the media seems to be at critical analysis of survey-type material.
It offers some of the questions the BBC might have asked in the children’s speech story.

  • Who did the research? Are they well respected for their research?
  • How was the research conducted?
  • What did researchers expect to prove? Did they learn anything new? Did the evidence in their research surprise them?
  • How did they decide which issue/people to research? How did they communicate their research findings? What was their impression of the research process?
  • Were they made aware of the reasons for conducting the research?

And, crucially:

  • Who is funding the research?


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