Quality of Journalistic knowledge
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Quality of Journalistic knowledge

on

  • 408 views

Presentation for the International Social Theory Consortium 10th Annual Meeting 16-17 June 2011, Cork Ireland

Presentation for the International Social Theory Consortium 10th Annual Meeting 16-17 June 2011, Cork Ireland

Statistics

Views

Total Views
408
Slideshare-icon Views on SlideShare
408
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
4
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Microsoft PowerPoint

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment
  • Hello, everyone, My name is Gerard Smit and I am a research fellow at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, the Netherlands. As for my background: I am trained as a philosopher, worked as a journalist, and teach subjects that could go under the heading of philosophy of journalism. My research topic is the methodology of investigative journalism. The point I would like to make in this presentation is that our understanding of journalism will profit from constructivist insights. I will illustrate this by presenting a model of social research that I adapted for journalism. we could better judge the quality of journalistic knowledge if we consider this knowledge as constructed, rather than as mirroring reality and that a theory of social research could help to illuninate such an constructivist epistemology. I order to do that I will present a adapted model of social research I should note that I am talking about investigative journalism here, about journalists who do their own research and are not only reporting what is already known. As you can see, I replaced the term negotiable epistemology, as it is called in my abstract by constructivist epistemogy. It is not that I think that the phrase ‘ negotiable epistemology, even if it sounds like an oxymoron, is not right, but rather that I should adhere of journalism. provide the needed epistemology can contribute he democratic task of journalism can be better fulfilled if we consider journalistic knowledge as constructed, rather than mirroring the world. if we consider journalistic knowledge – that is knowlegde produced by journalaist – as constructed, rather than mirroring the worlIn this presentation I would like to share some thoughts with you on how Just think about the Watergate affair, or, more recently, the disclosures of WikiLeaks as presented by news papers like The New York Times and the Guardian, to get an idea of what kind of journalism I am talking about. Investigative journalists are journalists who do their own investigations, instead of reporting on what is already known. The stories of these investigative journalist greatly influence politics and public opinion, and yet we lack sophisticated measures to value these stories, other than that journalist have to be accurate and independent. Illuminating the epistemological and normative foundation of investigative journalism could enhance its democratic function. The other reason for me to study the methodology of investigative journalism is to help students who are as yet inexperienced in the field to organize their research and be accountable for their stories. In this presentation I would like to share some thoughts with you on how a theory of social research could shed light on the quality of journalistic knowledge. I will do this by referring to the attempts that have been made to to ground the epistemology of journalism in science. Subsequently, I will explain my adaptation of a social research model developed by the sociologist and methodologist Charles Ragin. At the end I hope you will have some reasons to decide whether the phrase ‘ negotiable epistemology ’ is an apt one to describe the knowledge formation in journalism. the attempts that have been made to ground the epistemology of journalism in science. Subsequently, I wil explain my adaptation of a social research model developed by the sociologist and methodologist Charles Ragin.
  • Just to give you some idea of the mainstream ideology of journalism I would like you to have a look at an essay of Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, in which Defending its liberal position against tirades from the right saying it ’s too liberal, and from the left that it is not liberal enough.   Keller, states that it is the papers to supply you, the basis to make up your own minds ” .   According to Keller this can best be done by “ being right ” .   “ … we believe in verification rather than assertion. We put a higher premium on accuracy than on speed or sensation. ”    But being right is not the only condition that is needed to produce the basis to make up your mind. The journalist also needs to be impartial.   “ Being right is necessary but not sufficient. We also strive to be impartial. We are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with a preconceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests. ”   “ Impartiality ” , say Keller, “ is, for us, not just a matter of pretending to be neutral; it is a healthful, intellectual discipline. Once you proclaim an opinion, you may feel an urge to defend it, and that creates a temptation to overlook inconvenient facts when you should be searching them out. ” Bill Keller, FIRST; Among the Guerillas, The New York Times, March 27, 2011
  • And what are those first principles? Being right and being impartial. Of course there is nothing wrong by being right and impartial, the only trouble is The only trouble is that the editor in chief of one of the worlds most renowned newspapers has nothing more to say on the requirements of meaningful knowledge than that it has to be accurate and produced by journalist who are impartial. The ideology of journalism seems to be brought down to mere clichés, or, as some would say, a naïve form of empirism. I do not want to blame journalists themselves for it. They just lack a tradition of serioos reflection on the logic of their knowledge. Before we have a look at how a theory of social research could be of any help to bridge that gap. Lets have a look at some serious attempts that have been made in the past to position journalism vis-à-vis science.
  • The quintessential discussion on this issue has been the Lippmann-Dewey debate at the beginning of the twentieth century in the US. In a time when great investigative journalist, or muckrackers, as some would call them, like Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair, who investigated the oilindustry and the meat industry, and caused John Rockefeller to resign and revealed that it was not uncommon to find parts of the human body in canned meat, that two journalists philosphers debate the role of journalism in society and the status of its knowledge. According to Lippmann, journalism and science are two completely different things: Journalism is about news, and science is about truth. To quote Lippmann: “ There are no canons to direct the journalist ’ s own mind, and no canons that coerce the reader's judgment. His version of the truth is only his version. How can he demonstrate the truth as he sees it? He cannot demonstrate it. ” There are a hundred ways to bring the news, and only one to do science, according to Lippmann. Journalists can fight for the extension of reportable truth, but they don ’ t bring forth truth themselves. In his book The Public and its Problems (1924), John Dewey takes issue with Lippmann ’ s thoughts on journalism, science and democracy. According to Dewey, Lippmann not only trivializes the role of journalism in society, but also overestimates the role of science. The purpose of news, Dewey says, is not just to inform, but to make ideas public, including the results of scientific inquiry so that they may be debated and judged according to the needs and interests of the community. The press has a role in helping to determine what will be taken as our shared understanding of the social world. So Lippmann states that the social value of knowledge depends on the reliability of its methods, and while journalism lacks these methods it while Dewey argues that journalism is producing valuable knowledge by stimulating communication and debate. These different views on the social worth of journalism are still prevalent today. In hindsight Dewey has become the ideological founder of the so called civic journalism movement that is based on a communitarian ideology, and, much to his surprise I guess, Lippmann has become the forerunner of the still dominant liberal and empirical ideology of journalism.
  • This debate got a rather surprising follow up by a man called Philip Meyer. He started as a reporter, became a national correspondent, and did some marketing research. He became famous for applying these research tecnniques to journalism. He wrote a book about it: Precision Journalism in which he quates Lippmann as saying we need objective knowledgde. Leaving aside Lippmanns remark that journalist were not apt for journalism. His book became an immediate hit in academe and was taught to investigative journalism for over three decades. When asked how this had changed journalism. Meyer said: It has changed a bit. Precision journalism is still a novel idea and that applying statistical analysis, doing samples and setting up a research design was still numbo jumbo to journalists. But as investigative j. Might not have applied the quantitative research methods Meyer prescribed, the did adhere to the empirical epistemology Meyer Meyer thought was essential to journalism. Even if they mostly used that Meyers would abhore, because there was no other ideology at hand.
  • It took untill 2004 for a book on… to appear.
  • Ideas and evidence In his  Constructing social research: the unity and diversity of method , Charles Ragin ( 1994 ) tries to catch some of the essential general properties of social research in what he calls 'a simple model of social research'. Social research, in simplest terms, involves a dialogue between ideas and evidence. Ideas help social researchers make sense of evidence, and researchers use evidence to extend, revise, and test ideas. The end result of this dialogue is a representation of social life - evidence that has been shaped and reshaped by ideas, presented along with the thinking that guided the construction of the representation.
  • Social research, in simplest terms, involves a dialogue between ideas and evidence. Ideas help social researchers make sense of evidence, and researchers use evidence to extend, revise, and test ideas. The end result of this dialogue is a representation of social life - evidence that has been shaped and reshaped by ideas, presented along with the thinking that guided the construction of the representation. Because the 'distance' between abstract and general 'ideas' and concrete and specific 'evidence tends to be a large one, his model specifies some mediating structures between the two, called 'analytic frames' and 'images'. 'Analytic frames' are deduced from general ideas and focussed on the topic of the research, while 'Images' are inductively constructed from the evidence, but in terms provided by an analytic framework. The researcher's core job is to construct a 'Representation of Social Life', combining analytic frames and images in a 'double fitting' process called 'retroduction' (i.e. a combination of deduction and induction).     Think of analytic frames as a detailed sketch or outline of an idea about some phenomenon. Ideas are elaborated through analytic frames. Frames constitute ways of seeing the things they elaborate. (...)     Images, by contrast, are built up from evidence. (...) To construct images, researchers synthesize evidence--they connect different parts or elements of the things they study in order to create more complete portraits based on some idea of how these parts are or could be related. Initial images suggest new data collection paths.
  • Social research, in simplest terms, involves a dialogue between ideas and evidence. Ideas help social researchers make sense of evidence, and researchers use evidence to extend, revise, and test ideas. The end result of this dialogue is a representation of social life - evidence that has been shaped and reshaped by ideas, presented along with the thinking that guided the construction of the representation. Because the 'distance' between abstract and general 'ideas' and concrete and specific 'evidence tends to be a large one, his model specifies some mediating structures between the two, called 'analytic frames' and 'images'. 'Analytic frames' are deduced from general ideas and focussed on the topic of the research, while 'Images' are inductively constructed from the evidence, but in terms provided by an analytic framework. The researcher's core job is to construct a 'Representation of Social Life', combining analytic frames and images in a 'double fitting' process called 'retroduction' (i.e. a combination of deduction and induction).     Think of analytic frames as a detailed sketch or outline of an idea about some phenomenon. Ideas are elaborated through analytic frames. Frames constitute ways of seeing the things they elaborate. (...)     Images, by contrast, are built up from evidence. (...) To construct images, researchers synthesize evidence--they connect different parts or elements of the things they study in order to create more complete portraits based on some idea of how these parts are or could be related. Initial images suggest new data collection paths.

Quality of Journalistic knowledge Quality of Journalistic knowledge Presentation Transcript

  • The Quality of Journalistic Knowledge A contribution of social science to a constructivist epistemology of journalism Gerard Smit Research centre for communication & journalism University of applied sciences Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Overview
  • The ideology of journalism
  • First Principles
  • Being right and impartial Independence Verification Accuracy
  • Journalism, Science and Democracy 1922-1925 Journalism is about news, science about truth. Journalism has to foster public debate The journalist ’ s version of the truth, is only his version The press supplies meaning
  • Journalism, Science and Democracy “ 1973 - 2003 Precision journalism is scientific journalism It is still a novel idea…
  • Qualitative research 2004 Methods, No Methodology
  • A model of social research dialogue between ideas and evidence 1994/2010
  • IDEAS/ SOCIAL THEORY EVIDENCE/ DATA REPRESENTATION OF SOCIAL LIFE ANALYTIC FRAMES IMAGES mostly deductive mostly inductive retroduction
  • Towards a model of journalistic research
  • Adaptation IDEAS/ ROLE PERCEPTION NARRATIVE STRUCTURES RESEARCH TECHNIQUES EVIDENCE/ FACTS IDEAS/ SOCIAL THEORY EVIDENCE/ DATA REPRESENTATION OF SOCIAL LIFE ANALYTIC FRAMES IMAGES mostly deductive mostly inductive retroduction
    • Constructivist model for investigative journalism
    Evaluation criterion: coherence
  • Conclusion
  • Debate