The Science of Journalism
If I Had My Way

 

One Man's Opinion -- for what it's worth

To: Jonathan Stray - web site contact form 

Cc: Mathew Ingram - mathew@gigaom.com

Cc: Dave Carr - carr@nytimes.com

Cc: Ken Doctor - kdoctor@gmail.com

Cc: Jeff Jarvis - jeff@buzzmachine.com

Cc: Jay Rosen - jr3@nyu.edu

Cc: Dean Starkman - dean@deanstarkman.com

Cc: Doc Searls - dsearls@cyber.law.harvard.edu

Cc: Dave Winer - dave.winer@gmail.com

Cc: Glenn Greenwald - glenn.greenwald@guardiannews.com

Cc: Paul Krugman - (Address unknown, please forward)

Cc: Bill Domhoff - domhoff@ucsc.edu

From:  Doug Skoglund - skoglund@pdmsb.com

Date:   Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012

Subject: My Way XCII - Bingo!!

Jonathan, in your 21 Aug 2012 post entitled, "Metrics, metrics everywhere: How do we measure the impact of journalism?" you wrote:

Evaluating the impact of journalism is a maddeningly difficult task. To begin with, there's no single definition of what journalism is. 

And, back in your 13 Jun 2012 post entitled, "Journalism is more than one thing" you wrote:

There's a craving in the air for a definitive statement on what journalism is, something to rally around as everything changes. 

You, sir, have nailed journalism's A#1 problem -- PURPOSE??

Purpose must be established -- all else will evolve from that statement. 

In order to simplify the process of developing that statement of purpose, please allow me to introduce you to the Scientific Process (as modified) -- from my 29 Mar 2011 post:

David Brooks posted an interesting column yesterday, the 28th, entitled, "Tools for Thinking," where he wrote:
A few months ago, Steven Pinker of Harvard asked a smart question: What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?

And, the answer is really quite simple and straight forward -- there is only one scientific concept -- AKA: The Scientific Method/Process  (the following from Wikipedia)

Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: "a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."

We, of course, need to generalize that concept to make it usable by everybody

It is all about opinions

The human brain is a data collection system that processes data and formulates opinions -- aside from managing the human body, formulating an opinion is all that the human brain can do. I want to emphasize that statement -- formulate/generate/create an opinion -- NOT facts and NOT information -- an opinion about all manner of things, but still an opinion, a very biased opinion...

The Scientific process.

Step 1 - Collect data
Step 2 - Formulate an hypothesis
Step 6 - Test the hypothesis.

The Scientific Process is normally restricted to natural phenomena that can be tested by rigid procedures; however, many other areas have been incorporating the concepts to support their developments -- the field of economics being a prominent example.

It is high time to acknowledge a generalized process that can be used to explain other areas of human endeavor.

The Common Sense Process

Step 0 - Establish Purpose
Step 1 - Collect Data

Step 2 - Formulate an Opinion
Step 3 - Validate the Opinion
Step 4 - Sell the opinion

The human brain is a wonderful device (organ): however, it is not perfect -- Just as an hypotheses needs testing along with the assumed editing, an opinion needs validation and editing. Now, you know that -- you don't write a book without an editor (AKA: validation). Why post a blog without some kind of validation??

Well that is what comments should be all about -- emphasizing the word, "should."  Validating an opinion is a cooperative process -- a comparing of opinions in an attempt to develop the best opinion. It is NOT a competition, with winners and losers.

To be continued (I would like to help)

Doug Skoglund skoglund@pdmsb.com

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