Why would an almost-famous TV reporter quit covering politics to become a market researcher? How about because the news stopped looking for the truth, but market researchers have not.
I began political reporting in the 1970’s when Politics (with a capital P) was the engine of change. In Atlanta, I saw an explosion of access, growth, equality—and Justice! There was measurable progress. And Politics promised to bring more!
In 1977, I came to Boston to cover local, state and national politics, and kept at it for nearly forty years. Reporting brought me to the center of the struggles for political power and influence, without committing me to any side. In fact, my disinterest was my most valuable asset, letting me keep open lines to all candidates and elected officials, from all parties, at all levels.
As a reporter, I could ask anyone any question…and get an answer that was responsive. News reports then had much less partisan political agenda; Republicans or Democrats could be the good guys…or the bad guys.
We tried to be fair and thought we were. We called it, “letting the chips fall where they may.” How quaint is that? Now, there are facts and alt-facts. Red news and blue news. Fake news and undocumented news. Endless think-pieces, by people who’s thinking never changes.
Like politicians and political parties, the media segments us all, slicing/dicing/dividing. At one time, political reporters and analysts could be respected referees. Now they’re more likely to be advocates and acolytes. As our politics has become more divided, so to has the media charged with covering it. Common ground has become enemy territory; compromise cowardice. Ridicule with a side of scorn attracts an audience, and the media are more committed to profits than helping “secure the blessings of liberty.” That’s why no single news source is singularly trusted.
So I left the news to follow the truth.
It may sound corny, but as a market researcher I’ll still be reporting: collecting data; asking questions; studying and analyzing; searching for trends and revelations; writing. And I’ll still be more interested in the public’s opinion than my own. There will no predisposition, no answer or attitude. I won’t have any investment in research confirming, or worse, “proving.”
Specifically, I’m focused on Bernett’s Smart Panel initiative, creating custom online panels for clients. Bernett’s data collection expertise coupled with my penchant for asking questions, listening and engaging with people positions Bernett to offer clients a unique product for on-demand insights, tracker studies, customer satisfaction and beyond.
Looking ahead, I’m very lucky to be going back to the future, where the chips still fall where they may.
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