Toronto Metropolitan University

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Is It Us or Them? The Challenge of Getting Journalists to Participate in Academic Research

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-26, 21:05 authored by Nicole BlanchettNicole Blanchett, Claudia Mellado, Colette Brin, Sama Nemat Allah, Cheryl Vallender

For journalism research rooted in a sociological framework, gaining access to journalists is crucial for data collection. However, journalists are documentably difficult to recruit as participants, frequently due to limited time and resources in shrinking newsrooms, sometimes because of roadblocks put up by leery newsroom management. As part of the data collection process for the Canadian branch of the international Journalistic Role Performance project, researchers tracked issues raised by journalists that may have impacted survey recruitment and completion. These issues were frequently grounded in the context of survey questions designed to be operationalizable in vastly different cultures, and were also documented by other researchers in both the Global North and South who were cooperating in this comparative study. Despite first refusing or completely refusing survey participation, though, some Canadian journalists were willing to be interviewed, giving researchers the opportunity to explore how to best engage journalists in the research process, and design research tools to be shared in different media systems. Using a lens of social exchange, this paper provides unique insight, from the perspective of researchers and participants, on the importance of relationship-building as a focal point in order to adequately contextualize findings within a sociology of news framework.


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