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The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey

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How Political Science Can Help Journalism (and Still Let Journalists Be Journalists)

Brendan Nyhan1 / John Sides2

1University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

2George Washington University

Citation Information: The Forum. Volume 9, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, DOI: 10.2202/1540-8884.1426, April 2011

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Political scientists frequently lament the media’s neglect of our research. Although reporters should have a basic understanding of the field, it is not reasonable to expect them to restate the conclusions of academic research on a daily basis. Moreover, it is not always clear how research findings apply within the conventions of political journalism, which is context-specific and episodic in nature. In this article, we propose an approach that would bring more political science to journalism while respecting the professional norms and organizational constraints of news organizations. Although academic research is not always conducive to the demands of the news cycle, political science provides a novel perspective that could improve reporting in five respects: putting episodic developments in a structural context; providing new angles on the news; countering spin about the effects of events by elites; better describing historical trends and comparisons; and identifying known unknowns in politics.

Keywords: political science; journalism

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