That’s the ticket.
Nor are they admitting to me that they are cribbing from press releases form PR firms hired to puke propaganda.
And I know this to be a fact because (a) I got my mitts on those same press releases, and (b) I seen those press releases in the newsrooms, and (c) those same companies registered with FARA because that’s the law in the US.
But what is happening here? How do I find out?
None of the books or academic articles explained it because they just didn’t do that research. The research they had was based on faulty assumptions, and so, was worthless. I am poring over databases day and night as well as reading any and every journal article I can find, and I am not netting a single thing. Nothing. It’s useless.
And then eventually, as I have recounted elsewhere, inspiration struck: I could find out what is going on by becoming a journalist.
I could work as a journalist. That’s actually a very easy job.
However, there is no point of becoming one if I am just going through the motions. I am not picking up anything because I am not focussing on the scaffolding of it.
But I knew how to create experiments in the real world. I was doing it for the last four years full-time.
I could devise and conduct experiments — natural experiments that would net me testable data that I could compare and contrast (and as I would eventually concurrently work as a college professor who is relaying information to an audience, that would serve as my comparison) and see under what circumstances certain things happened.
Actors get into character through Method Acting. I was doing the Method, but I wasn’t acting.
I was researching.
And so, Method Research was born.
Being an experimenter who is both a subject and experimenter who walks in the real-world lab, conducting actual experiments and tests to explain a facet of reality.
In my case, I was researching journalism. From rejection letters to interviewing sources, everything was fair game.
And I wasn’t a pretend reporter. That was my job. That was my label. That was how I paid my bills. That was my life.
I employed the Scientific Method. I saw how lax and lazy the structure was, and how oblivious the profession was to the tidal wave called the Internet.
I was a journalist who had the bonus of writing about the business of journalism. I was aware of what was happening. Sometimes my theories were bang on. Sometimes they were off. Sometimes they were wrong.
But unlike the academic books and papers that had no clue about that world, I knew it intimately.
When they say, “You had to be there,” it’s true. You do.
You may think you know what it’s like to have cancer, for instance, but until you have it, you don’t.
You may believe you have empathy, but empathy doesn’t take you all the way. You cannot anticipate things or your reactions.
I remember when my grandmother was dropped by paramedics and mom and I had to look after her round the clock. Mom slept on a sofa in grandma’s room and had to turn her over every fifteen minutes in order for her not to develop bed sores. She couldn’t feed herself between the broken teeth and her inability to use her arms, she was helpless, but still coherent and completely aware of what was happening.
This was a horror movie existence. Her stump could not be sewn and the leg had to be open.
It was a horrific sight. We set up her room in such a way that everyone who came in asked if we were a nursing home. We had the hospital bed, the Hoyer lift, shelves of supplies, you name it. If you are not changing diapers, you are tending a traumatic wound. We had to keep a watch to the slightest change in skin colour, urine, bowel movements, nails, breath, eyes, you name it.
And then I’d talk about what my family was going through, and almost every single time, people would have the nerve to say, “Oh, I know what you’re going through. My grandma died of cancer".” Or mother, father, spouse.
Did you look after them in your house?
How many diapers did you change?
How many wounds did you dress?
How many times did you feed this person or bathe them?
Well, the nursing home/hospital/hospice did that.
So how do you know what I went through?
Having a sick relative is not the same as having one who was catastrophically disabled.
You don’t know. You were hands off, and now you are indulging in an offensive ruse of conversational narcissism. You are being selfish, heartless, unsympathetic, vulgar, and rude.
But every once in a while, I would come across someone who had a terminally ill child or relative, and they did go through something that horrific or were going through it.
It is a completely different conversation. The institutional indignities are real and shocking. People say heartless things to you that are vile.
I remember overhearing one recent amputee talking to the nurse who told this man that he could order groceries to be delivered to his door. She was all proud of herself even though he kept telling her that he lived alone, was on a fixed budget and couldn’t afford it, and would not be able to get into his apartment because there were stairs.
(And while I am here, let me tell all of you reading this article that if you have one step in front of your house, it is like having a mountain for someone who has mobility issues. The end. But I digress.)
You are so focussed on the war of giving someone the gift of one more day of life, that you put yourself last. You are focussed on grains. You are not babbling about “me time”. That’s not an actual thing.
Because that’s an hour away from someone who is completely dependent on you for survival, and you can have all the “me time” in the world — but once someone you love dies, there is no more “us time.”
And when that “day at the spa” cost someone their life, then what?
You don’t know what it is like to be in a war just because you were involved in a drunken bar brawl.
You don’t know what it is like to be kept a hostage just because you have to be at home for Thanksgiving.
The problem usually is when we are in those situations, we panic, and are wired for baser survivalist strategies. We don’t know how to assess things in an empirical way — we get thrown in and all our attention has to be elsewhere.
But Method Research is the way of collecting data in the real world with a plan in mind — and at heart.
It is very easy to use sophistry, over-think, and believe you can see things strictly from an intellectual standpoint.
You are missing the heart of everything, and without a heart, there is only a corpse.
So Method Research is also the method of empirical study with a balance of emotional literacy. You are not in a clinical lab.
You are out in the real world. You see truths because you face reality.
So, for example, I can conduct a study on how people behave when they have a tight deadline. I can have students sign up in my experiment, sit in a room, and I can have a loud clock ticking, and pressure them.
I will get results.
But as there is no one in the room who will have a history with the person or trigger certain emotional responses, my conclusions are shallow at best.
Now, if I conduct the experiment in a newsroom where there is an sexist editor who is sexually harassing some employees, giving his university chums a free pass, and playing mind games with those he is in competition with — and I run the same experiment, I am going to get very deep, different, and real results.
But I can go even deeper than that.
I can be one of those reporters working in that toxic stew. I can tell you exactly what is happening.
Now, if I am that reporter, I may be too panicked or focussed on revenge to see what is happening to others or to me. I will too busy declaring myself a victim or hero and demonizing other people.
But if I am a Method Researcher, I can observe dynamics. I know what i am thinking — but also feeling.
It is very easy for a psychologist to label faceless strangers. It is very different to label yourself or people who get to know around you.
And that is the difference.
That kind of intimate research forces you to be accountable to it. Who do you know better — the person you read about in news articles, or the person you live with and talk to everyday?
You can make guesses about the person you don’t know, but you don’t actually know if your fantasies have anything to do with reality.
That’s the reason I can now see the troubles of journalism, know why they happened, and predict their future — I was in that hell hole.
I can tell you that CBS employees are clueless about their workplace. I can tell you that a newspaper is falling apart, and it is more frequent than you can imagine. There have been activists, operatives, and other partisan people who can go in and manipulate a newsroom with ease.
There are no mechanisms in place, not even in national outlets.
And if there isn’t any mechanisms now — there wasn’t any back then, either.
It should have never gotten this far. There were numerous options and countless opportunities.
But when you have people who are not self-aware, they have no idea what they are doing or why.
They only think they know.
But their results say otherwise.