Relay Communicating Research Media Debates Case Study Research


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Presented by Joanne Carpenter (Panos - at the Public Engagement Workshop, 2-5 Dec. 2008, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa,

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  • Relay Communicating Research Media Debates Case Study Research

    1. 1. Promoting dialogue, debate and change
    2. 2. Relay Communicating Research Media Debates Case Study Research [email_address]
    3. 3. <ul><li>What is Relay? </li></ul><ul><li>We work in 11 developing countries to link academics and media and create inclusive public debate around development research knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>A key premise of our work is that media debates around research influence policy. But how do we know they do? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Media Debates Case Studies <ul><li>To increase understanding of how media debate links research with policy-making processes </li></ul><ul><li>Anecdotal evidence that the media is a critical actor… </li></ul><ul><li>… but we needed to go beyond this. </li></ul>
    5. 5. The case studies <ul><li>Jamaica and Uganda were identified as suitable locations for case studies: </li></ul><ul><li>dynamic media landscape with active newspaper, radio and television sectors, including a high proportion of privately-owned media </li></ul><ul><li>media freedom is protected by law </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>We took the media debate as the unit of analysis and identified four pieces of research which had received significant media coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Jamaica Case Study 1: working conditions for young women in wholesale shops. Findings focused on labour practices that were in breach of national and international laws </li></ul><ul><li>Jamaica Case Study 2: developmental status of 6-year old children in the country. The research findings focused on four factors influence early childhood outcomes – class, education, parenting stress levels, and home learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Uganda Case Study 1: economic value as an environmental resource of the threatened Mabira Forest, which had been slated for handover to sugarcane production by the President. </li></ul><ul><li>Uganda Case Study 2: Usage of polythene Bags, termed ‘Kaveera’ in Kampala. Implications for environmental health. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Methodology <ul><li>A minimum of 12 key informant interviews were conducted for each case study. (with researchers, representatives of civil society, a sample of media and a sample of policymakers – both in parliament and civil service) </li></ul><ul><li>The content analysis methodology used to examine the research documentation itself and the press coverage of the research and the issue the research examined. A sample of press clippings from mainstream, influential newspapers were assessed against a set of quality indicators </li></ul><ul><li>By interviewing stakeholders at all stages of the research, media and policy process, the case studies identified common characteristics of influential media debates as well as diverse pathways through which research influenced policy. </li></ul>
    8. 8. What was investigated? <ul><li>Process: how was the research produced, packaged, distributed, promoted? And by whom? </li></ul><ul><li>Audience: who were target audiences, who was reached? What did media and policymakers think? </li></ul><ul><li>Results: what impact did the research have on policy? </li></ul><ul><li>The case study approach enabled us to speak to stakeholders – the researcher, the media, the policymakers. The content analysis of media clippings adding a layer of understanding </li></ul>
    9. 9. Example of learning from the composite case studies Researchers’ equivocal view of their role in promoting research <ul><li>Jamaica 1: Researcher did not think of media as possible outlet. ‘Not her job’ to engage media and saw benefit of civil society taking over this process. General fear that media will ‘sensationalise’. </li></ul><ul><li>Jamaica 2: Researcher/Policymakers actively organised press launch, and made herself available to media frequently and made press statements. </li></ul><ul><li>Uganda 1: This research was not actively promoted to the media; the researcher did not seek out the media as he did not see this as his job, he saw it as the job of the organisation who commissioned the research. </li></ul><ul><li>Uganda 2: Researcher pro-actively promoted research to media through publishing abstracts and workshops despite opposite culture in Uganda. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Key Findings <ul><li>Influential media debates are strategically driven - In each case, the media debate was not initiated by journalists but was driven by an organisation or network with the resources and skills to pro-actively engage and mobilise the media as part of their own existing advocacy or policy work. </li></ul><ul><li>Civil society is a driving force - Civil society organisations were the most successful in catalysing media debates because of their skills and resources to pro-actively bring research to journalists and to frame the debates, to some extent. Their knowledge of policy processes, their own advocacy purposes, and their professional links with media were important factors . </li></ul><ul><li>Professional links are critical - Despite the spark provided by civil society, in 3 out of 4 of the case studies, leadership throughout the media debates was provided by multi-stakeholder platforms or processes in which four professional groups – researchers, policymakers, civil society and media - brought distinct, mutually respected skills and roles to the table. </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging policymakers - In three cases, policymakers saw the media as a source of information and a window on public opinion about specific policies or issues on the news agenda. In the same cases, they also responded to some extent to the media debates with specific statements or actions. </li></ul><ul><li>Media debate quality - The influence of a media debate is not dependent on its quality, but the inclusion of research findings increases its influence by providing the ‘hard fact’ and evidences that journalists, public and policy makers look for </li></ul>
    11. 11. Draft recommendations for research donors and research organisations (which we now have strong evidence for!) <ul><li>Systematically integrate communication strategies into all research initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Train researchers or research institutions to produce targeted, media friendly versions of reports, to give interviews, and to engage journalists directly in the issues and findings of research through organised events such as workshops, press conferences and launches, and public debate events which attract media </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthening professional relationships between media, civil society, policy and researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Capacity-building media, specifically engage talk show hosts and work with them to generate commitment to covering policy issues and guidelines on policy issues) </li></ul><ul><li>Engage editors - The real gap identified by this research was that editors do not have the time, resources and sometimes, the power, to transfer skills to the reporter through standard journalism processes such as assignment and commissioning. </li></ul>