When you think of research what springs to mind? Long hours searching through tedious information? Yes, there is no doubt there are aspects of research that require long, fun filled hours, but without realisation we actually undertake research on a daily basis. Something as simple as asking for directions is a step in the research process.
Without research we essentially wouldn’t derive conclusions. Berger explores the idea of research as “to search for, to find” (Berger 2014, p. 15). Simple, wouldn’t you say? Well research is actually divided into two areas; scholarly research and everyday research. In order to understand media research one must differentiate between scholarly which reflects quantitative research “the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques” and every day resembling qualitative “used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations“ .
The media tends to be a convoluted environment where facts can often be overridden by the need to produce entertainment. A prime example is entertainment magazines such as the one below, which often stretch or manipulate the truth of their research to meet the consumers’ needs and desires rather than portraying credibility.
Scholarly research enables individuals to differentiate the credible sources through its focus on “correctness and truthfulness” according to Berger (Berger 2014, p. 15). I tend to disagree with Berger’s point of view, however, he is basing this assumption on direct facts, rather than recognising the possibly of having multi-layered subjects, conclusions and interpretations. Berger’s explanation fails to acknowledge that areas, such as within the media, can easily present the truth in manipulated and emotional contexts, this is constantly seen within politics as presented below.
Everyday research is based on common sense and is very selective. For example you’re more inclined to decide on something like coffee based on familiarity rather than undertaking extensive research on taste and strength. Whereas scholarly research is a planned process based on logical and scientific thinking to derive a thorough conclusion. Although Berger fails to recognise that scholarly facts are based on others research which would have originated from one’s own perspective on their findings. This reiterates philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s point “the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings” (Berger 2014, p. 19). Therefore it can debated that scholarly and everyday research is essentially the same thing, the only difference is scholarly research has been approved by those seen as credible.
There are several aspects of the media that intrigue me as a person and can often blur the lines between quantitative and qualitative research. In particular I would like to explore the entertainment industry and the research processes undertaken in developing a story. The entertainment industry is known for its belittling and exaggeration of celebrities lives in order to gain readers, therefore it would be interesting to explore the steps involved by magazines such as ‘Famous’ in creating a story and how far they can manipulate their research before it becomes an ethical and legal issue.
Berger, A 2014, ‘What is research?’, in media and communication research methods: an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, vol. 3, pp. 13-32.