News Media as Research Brokers

Saturday, February 18, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 312 (Hynes Convention Center)
Itzhak Yanovitzky, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
There is credible evidence that the news media’s attention to and treatment of policy issues is associated with the way the general public and policymakers understand these issues. However, it is not entirely clear how the inclusion and discussion of research findings in the news media may influence public policy decisions. This presentation introduces research brokering as a novel approach to understanding how news media functions to introduce research findings into policymaking processes. Preliminary results will be presented from a multi-year research project examining the role of news media in federal policymaking pertaining to childhood obesity. The study focuses on identifying stable patterns regarding the type, nature, and timing of research use by congressional legislators based on the analysis of policy documents (bills, hearings, floor debates, etc.) over a 15-year period as means of representing and exploring routines of research use. Knowledge of dominant research routines is needed to more reliably anticipate the ways in which news media can broker research in relation to the policymaking process. The preliminary findings show a consistent pattern of conceptual use of evidence (i.e., using research findings to form a general understanding of causes and solutions) and the significance of policy windows for the acquisition, interpretation, and use of research evidence. The implications of these findings point to the potential of the news media to broker research in public policy decision-making contexts.