Sample Research Program Statement: Carrie Brown

Sample Research Program Statement: Carrie Brown

Carrie Brown, doctoral student, Missouri School of Journalism

The main goal of my research program is to produce knowledge that will shape the future of journalism. I hope to build and test models that will keep the principles of journalism alive despite the many the challenges to their survival, which include economic pressures, sweeping technological changes, negative public attitudes toward the press, and shifting public needs. My orientation toward scholarship in this area is normative in that I believe that journalism plays a crucial role in the effective functioning of a democratic system.

More specifically, I am particularly interested in newspapers and their transition to an interactive, multimedia environment online. My primary approach to research in this area is to utilize case studies and organizational diagnosis methodologies to examine news organizations that are attempting to implement major initiatives. I hope to apply open systems theory and a psychoanalytic approach to better understand how news organizations can develop an ongoing capacity for learning and change, including the management of factors that affect individuals’ and groups’ abilities to adapt. My experience and research in this area has led me to hypothesize that while news workers do not have a shortage of feasible ideas on how to evolve with the times, defensive mechanisms and resistance to change remain the largest impediments to successful transformation.

A closely related line of research involves evaluating the role journalism training programs play in guiding organizations through the change process. I have access to a large body of interview and survey data collected by my former employer, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, and I am continuing to mine this data for insights into the effectiveness of mid-career training that is based on facilitation and enduring values.

Methodologically, my research tends to be primarily qualitative in nature and focuses on interviews, observation, focus groups, and textual analysis of documents. However, I have also developed basic quantitative skills that will allow me to augment my work with survey data.

Finally, a crucial aspect of my research program is outreach. Indeed, my research philosophy is that any project begins and ends with the subjects of study themselves. The goal is not only to build theory, but also to produce and translate research that is directly relevant to the day-to-day reality of those who produce journalism. I remain in close contact with organizations such as the Committee of Concerned Journalists and the Associated Press Managing Editors, and I am involved in research projects specifically designed to meet these organizations’ needs. I work closely with the Columbia Missourian, the University of Missouri’s professionally edited, student-reported community newspaper, helping to bring relevant theory into the design of the paper’s experimental new Web-driven model. I hope to continue to focus on how research can inform practice throughout my career.