Mobilsing Social Science Research for the Media – The Other Research Bureau?

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In a “post-truth” political world, facts have never been more important. Some are easy to find, others require some skill and knowledge to locate and analyse.

Media organizations and journalists are under ever greater pressure to produce sound, fact-based, reporting to counter the tidal wave of fake news and half-truths spread through social media.

They also have less resources to employ their own investigative teams.

There are, however, thousands of well-trained social scientists in the UK – inside and outside of academia – who have the skills and knowledge to unearth the real story. Many young researchers have much to contribute and could always do with a little extra cash. They also can – sometimes – respond quickly to requests. I have worked with several in this way myself.

So, we are thinking of creating a service that brings the demand for quick, efficient, investigative research from media organizations and journalists together with those social scientists who are willing to provide quick but quality access to or digests of the information the media needs. Or, in some cases, to carry out more in-depth investigations?

A sort of “Trust a Trader” or “Rated People” platform for social scientists and the media. We have a preliminary name and logo (above).

We envisage an on-line platform where requests can be made (with a fee offer) and social scientists respond if they can help.

We should stress this would not be investigative journalism – we’ll leave that to the media. This would be background research to help journalists write their stories.

We are interested in hearing from

Media folk if you think this sort of service would be useful and would you or your organizations pay for it?

Social scientists who might want to participate (we’re thinking especially here of early career researchers maybe?) – for payment, obviously.

We want to know if this is a bonkers idea, or something worth trying?

Comments welcome here or directly to me at colin.talbot@manchester.ac.uk 

4 thoughts on “Mobilsing Social Science Research for the Media – The Other Research Bureau?

  1. Not sure. Have you visited the BBC at Broadcasting House, London? So many journalists/researchers all under a single roof! Too many to count if you stand in the cafe looking down! And the standard of what they produce is so appalling! So yes, maybe new blood would be helpful? But I doubt it, in the face of some very bad editorial work!

  2. I am both a social scientist (former academic) and a journalist. I think an expertise database for journalists to use would be great (there are some already – a bit piecemeal, but there’s always a need). Make sure from the academic side you use it to measure impact, and on the journalist side that people aren’t writing for free (it’s the biggest thing the media is dealing with right now, people who write content for free – because that then becomes an expectation). There has to appeal to people’s self interest as well as a need to do right.

  3. As an individual I rely on your blog and others from the LSE to tell the truth.
    I can not see why journalists should be interested in the truth when it is they who are responsible for spreading fake news,deliberately in my opinion.

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