“The world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it but countless meanings”- Friedrich Nietsche
The definition of media research from Black’s Law Dictionary is “Investigating which periodicals consumers read and/or which radio or television programs they listen to or watch as a part of this specific type of survey.” Whilst this information is useful at the time of airing to create data sets, it is meaningless to both future applicants and to understand the past without the context of why it got the number of viewers it did. It is also useful to consider how it affected the frame work of society at the time of airing, and how that impacted/continues to impact the formation of cultural ideals.
We assume that scholarly research will be done to the most honest extend possible, however he human condition is usually our downfall, as even if we realise it we can’t change our unconscious bias to information that lines up with what we already believe to be true.
In any good experiment or act of research, for it to be valid and reproducible, all variables must be carefully controlled. The issue with media research is that to be accurate, it needs for the test subject- usually the formation of human behaviour or opinion, to occur and exist in a vacuum. As we all know however, there is no correct way to distil and simplify any human’s reaction to any one exposure. For example when trying to determine the effect of the media of a person’s view of climate change, viewing and not viewing the content are the only factors that can be defined and controlled by the researchers, which ignores the plethora of other variables that may affect the results such as life experience, age, gender, nationality and socio-economic status.
Any attempts to take a generalized approach to society as a whole by testing all the different individuals and coming up with an average result will lead to the creation of a model that works on the large scale, but fails to accurately predict or describe the view of any one individual.
However, whilst it is not perfect in design, media research is necessary (Berger, 2014). Models and predictions made by media research practised are inheritably flawed, however still useful as a guide for the future.
In my future investigations I would like to explore how and why members of social media are exposed to scientific discoveries and ideas, and how much of an impact this has had in both their knowledge and interest in the scientific fields. Being a strong believer in the importance of a functioning- although not necessarily extensive- knowledge of scientific practises, I would like to know how to communicate scientific discoveries in a way that the public will find interesting and engaging, in order to further the cause of scientific literacy.
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