Word of the day: focus

September 2nd, 2009 by Jack

Having received and reviewed your research prior to today’s “man on the street” interviews, I’ll quote one of my Craft teaching colleagues from the spring who must have used the same word at least a hundred times.


What was the focus of your reporting assignment?  Was it troop deployment in Afghanistan?  Not specifically.  Was it the neighborhoods where you were doing your interviews?  No again.  That’s not to say background on either of those subjects would be useless to your story, but they shouldn’t have been the focus of your research.  You weren’t going to be interviewing President Obama or General McChrystal, nor writing neighborhood profiles.

Given that you were going to be interviewing average citizens, the focus of your research should have been on the opinion of the general populace regarding troops in Afghanistan.  There are always stories mentioning polls and surveys on this sort of hot button topic.  Armed with that information, you could then compare what you found in your interviews to what the general populace thinks.  Did you find a different vibe in your neighborhood?  You might even be able to ask people some good follow up questions, such as, “Would you be surprised if I told you x percent of the population thinks such and such?”

Kudos to those who e-mailed me yesterday asking for advice on how to tackle the research on this assignment.  I look forward to seeing how you incorporate your research into your work.

Today’s bonus: Since we’ll be talking about how to use social networking tools for research later this semester, I found this Times magazine article interesting.  Is the lure of Facebook wearing thin?

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