Sunday, January 25, 2009

Compare and contrast: journalism vs. science

Journalism's got a lot in common with scientific research - in both endeavors you're trying to understand and convey the nature of reality. But there are differences too, that you may not grasp if you're coming at it from the "science" end - it's not just that "journalism's peer review is a good deal easier to sneak through."

The good Dr. Heisenberg plays a much larger role in journalism, because your forays into gathering data involve the efforts of, in effect, lab techs who may have a strong desire to skew or otherwise obscure the results. And you won't necessarily know whether they're trying to do so, since you barely know them - with each story, you're working with a different group of techs.

So you need to put a fair amount of effort into controlling for any bias introduced by the techs - which means running the same experiment using different techs, or - if you realize you've left some "wiggle room" in an experiment - rerunning it more rigorously, using the same tech.

(Stripping out the metaphors, what this means is that you'll want to ask multiple people the same question, and you may ask the same person multiple variants of the same question. Which, I have found, makes the lab techs take umbrage...)


Anonymous said...

It looks like my blog is gone from shows up on the knco site, but it's not listed under blogs/ Did you change something?

Anna Haynes said...

Hello Dixie - yes, since your posts were showing up in 2 places, I removed them from one place (the only one I *could* remove them from)

I agree with you though, it'd be better to have your blog posts in the "Blogs" section, instead of mixed into the "KNCO" section. Any way to have Spiral Studios set up an alternate KNCO feed that *doesn't* include your blog, that NCVoices could use?
(there are ways, it's just a matter of will...)