More an essay than a piece of testable scholarship, we nonetheless drew on a variety of methods while formulating our analysis, recommendations and conclusions. Primarily, the research was based in qualitative interviews, conducted both one-on-one, on location, over email or telephone, and at the offices of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A significant amount of data was gathered at a closed-door conference at the journalism school on April 17-18, 2012, that involved 21 people.
For the most part, however, this essay draws on the industry experience and previous scholarship of its authors. It attempts to combine more traditional academic theory with current developments in the worlds of journalism and digital media–always a fraught task. To the degree we have succeeded, we hope that the report is neither superficial to those coming to it as scholars, nor overly dense to working journalists who may work their way through its pages.
Ultimately, we believe that this report should also serve as a call to further, more traditional academic research. Many of its conclusions can be tested through a variety of methods and with a variety of goals in mind. Insofar as the authors each work at different schools of journalism in New York City, and insofar as each is engaged in a different aspect of scholarly production for their respective home institutions, the future for ‘useful journalism research’ would appear bright. Ultimately, the conclusions and provocations of this essay will rise or fall based on changes within journalism itself.