Watching People: Observations
Observation is one of the oldest research methods and when done well it is a source of rich ethnographic data. A review of two uses of observation is provided in a three-year international project ‘Organisational culture of public service media in the digital mediascapes: people, values and processes’ (2015–2018). The aim of the project is to assist the adaptation of public service media to the fourth industrial—data-driven—revolution through the development of policy and practice. Firstly, city ‘walkabouts’ provide contextual data to support 150 interviews, second young people were observed as they discussed and imagined new forms of public service media. As an Industry Study ‘walkabouts’ of urban regeneration areas and offices assisted the researchers to gain an understanding of the internal culture of firms situated within ten high technology clusters in North America and Europe. The use of observation for Audience Studies is offered in the case of a creative workshop with 25 young people aged 16–20; ‘Generation Z’. This provided an opportunity to find out what data-driven services they would like public service media to be launching in the future. An historical account of observation as a scientific method opens the chapter followed by a short review of its adoption by media and communication scholars. A critical discussion of the definition, logic and rationale for using observation in research that aims to support the evolution of the public media enterprise and related policy follows. A detailed description of two case studies provides two contrasting instances of the use of observation as a method. How to conduct observations, the capturing/storage/retrieval of observational data, and its analysis and use are considered in some detail.
The observations were conducted as part of a three-year international study (2015–2018), ‘Organisational culture of public service media in the digital mediascapes: People, values and processes’ funded by the National Science Centre (NCN), SONATA 8. For more information: www.creativemediaclusters.com.
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