Whether or not we like to believe it, we are all avid researchers. With such a plethora of information available at our finger tips, so to speak, researching has become easier than ever. In the broadest sense, researching is the gathering of data, information and sources in order to reach new conclusions and broaden knowledge. “Borrrrrrrrrrringgggg” – I hear you say.
But really, this means that it pertains to everything and anything.
Even something as pedestrian as an ailment i.e. that really bad hangover from last night… So yeah, it’s a pretty important concept. Google, on the most basic level, reflects the fundamental aspects of research practices. They don’t call it a ‘search’ engine without good reason.
As Berger explains, if people view at research as “an attempt to find out about things and people and the complexities of communication” it is then that “research becomes fascinating” He continues that “because of the way the human mind works, we are, in a sense, always doing research- but not always doing scientific and scholarly research”.
Some definitions may suggest that the act of researching is systematic in nature, but other ideas such as those that Nietzsche presents, view research under the premise that “everything boils down to interpretation” (Berger 2014)
From this, we can deduce that media research incorporates these fundamental principles of researching but because of it’s broad nature it must combine different methodologies of research. Therefore, it cannot be identified as singularly systematic or interpretative. Here lies the problem.
When I analyse the word research I take into account the ‘re’ prefix to mean a consistent analysis of the data already gathered and interpretation of it over and over again in light of new data. When we research aspects of media such as news coverage, more specifically coverage of acts of terrorism on a local and global scale, we will more often than not find many many contradictions and it can often become difficult to determine if this is in fact or interpretation. To the average citizen, the resources are simply not always available to reach a concrete conclusion to this dilemma. It is for this reason, that this aspect of media interests me.
Furthermore, I’d like to determine; Is there an interference effect that dominant media channels create on an individual or group’s ability to accurately distinguish fact from interpretation? And how do those not familiar with ‘scholarly research’ practices overcome this? Also, I’m incredibly interested in the resounding effect that this may have on future perspectives of current world events. Will we be limited to seeing them only through the eyes of those whose reports we consume? Or will the flagrant contradiction of ‘fact’ between various media sources grow public scepticism of mass media to the point where it becomes redundant as any form of news at all?
To provide an example of what I mean, I analysed an article by Arda Bilgen that explains how “it is by and large the case that the architects of terrorism exploit the media for the benefit of their operational efficiency, information gathering, recruitment, fund raising, and propaganda schemes” It introduces the dangerous symbiosis between media and terrorism arguing that both the perpetrators of acts of terrorism and the media that exposes them have their own goals. As such, “the perpetrators’ media-related goals are the same: attention, recognition, and perhaps even a degree of respectability and legitimacy in their various publics. Media, in return, receives the attention of the public that is vital for its existence and benefits from record sales and huge audiences.”
Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32
Bilgen, A. 2012, ‘Terrorism and the Media: A Dangerous Symbiosis‘, The George Washington University, online article, accessed 23/03/15