Over the past 14 weeks, I have been conducting a research program which aimed to answer the following question. Explore the ways social media has affected Millennials ability to be informed about public issues? In an effort to answer this question, I employed both primary and secondary research. The secondary research included 5 journal articles and numerous online articles. The primary research included both a survey and a focus group.
Initially, my question was, in what ways has social media affected people’s ability to be informed about public issues? The change of ‘people’ for ‘millennials’ was too narrow the focus of the question. Furthermore, considering I am a millennial, it adds to the overall reflexivity. Also, the use of the word ‘explore’ allowed me to detail various viewpoints, positive and negative. These changes were advised to me by my tutor and I agreed with them. I believe it was the right choice, and it was able to allow me to answer the question within the 14-week timeframe.
In terms of my research engagement, I have identified a problem. I feel as if I didn’t use my background research effectively. The articles were helpful but some were off topic. For example, one of my sources written by Peter English detailed how social media is used in sports journalism. At the time, I assumed that I would incorporate a sporting element to my focus group. Perhaps, some have had experience in following sports via social media i.e. athlete Twitter accounts. However, I decided against, feeling it was too niche for the topic. So, I essentially wasted a spot in my background research, a spot which could have been used for a more relevant study or article.
In my opinion, the survey had the desired effect. It was able to identify half of my first finding. Which was, that social media is the top news sources among millennial. Without that information, I would not have been able to claim that social media has affected millennial’s new consumption; because there would have been no evidence to suggest that they frequent social media for news. Furthermore, the survey was able to tell me that Millennials are wary of fake news and have mistrust for their number 1 news source. Moreover, it told me millennials also take it upon themselves to conduct further research after reading or observing a news story. All these figures detailed in the final report were able to inform my focus group questions and give me certain themes to bring into the focus group. Those being, uncertainty, initiative, curiosity, and the effects of discussion.
The focus group itself was an eye opener. I was able to wrangle 7 people to discuss the topic a. Some people I knew, and some I didn’t. I did feel slightly nervous about; it certainly got me out of my comfort zone. Conducting a discussion is harder than I expected, but I feel as I was prepared. I had information about the topic; I drafted a number of questions. I feel the focus group was successful. It generated the third finding, regarding the effects of negative discussion on social media.
Both my research engagement and communication strategy was conducted in a respectful manner. In Week 6, we focused on the importance of respect when conducting research and communicating afterwards. Even though my topic was not that of a sensitive subject, I still felt indebted to my subjects and did not wish to betray their wants and needs. As Susan Tilley states, “The good intentions and integrity of the researcher are no guarantee that harm will not be done; however, they are paramount in strengthening the official protection offered”(Tilley, 1998 .pp.320). I wanted to be very professional with my subjects and wanted them to be aware of my agenda. As stated in the Lean Research Framework regarding respect, it is important to offer, “A clear, intelligible informed consent, in which research subjects feel truly free to reject participation without fearing negative consequences” (D-Lab, 2015. pp.2). I offered informed consent in both the survey and focus group, allowing subjects to opt out at any time. Furthermore, giving them contact details to follow the progress of my report or contact me with objections or question.
This task has developed my researching ability and has granted me a foundation in conducting respect primary research. I feel as I can incorporate the skills I have learned from the task into my journalistic arsenal and look forward to researching other topics in the future.
Tilley, S. (1998). Conducting Respectful Research: A Critique of Practice. Canadian Journal of education, 23(3), pp.316-328.
D-Lab (2015). The Lean Research Framework. Principles for Human-Centred Field Research. [online] Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pp.1-2. Available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B36nNXj12OvSMmJhZHRpOHZBMmM/view [Accessed 1 Jun. 2017].