Doubling down on credibility

From left to right: Craig Helmstetter, Managing Partner, APM Research Lab; Dave Kansas, Executive Vice President, American Public Media; Kassira Absar, Research Associate, APM Research Lab; Andi Egbert, Senior Research Associate, APM Research Lab; and Jon McTaggart, President and CEO, American Public Media.

From left to right: Craig Helmstetter, Managing Partner, APM Research Lab; Dave Kansas, Executive Vice President, American Public Media; Kassira Absar, Research Associate, APM Research Lab; Andi Egbert, Senior Research Associate, APM Research Lab; and Jon McTaggart, President and CEO, American Public Media.

By Craig Helmstetter, Managing Partner

The APM Research Lab: Doubling down on credibility

Why would a media company want to establish a research division? Not a market research division, mind you, but a unit dedicated to bringing the scientific method to better understanding the social and economic world around us?

That was the same question I had before I came on board. Jon McTaggart, American Public Media’s President and CEO, assured me that it was a logical extension of the mission: 

APM aims to ‘enrich the mind and nourish the spirit, thereby assisting our audiences to enhance their lives, expand perspectives and strengthen their communities.’ Adding a research division will help us meet that mission by strengthening the information we provide for our audiences. We are, in effect, doubling down on credibility.


David Kansas, Executive Vice President—and now my boss—added that, like all media organizations, APM needs to innovate. “In a changing landscape we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to constantly seek new avenues that provide value for the public, and we believe research is one of those avenues.”

I also talked with APM’s President Emeritus, Bill Kling. He indicated that establishing an analyst function has been a long-time objective for the organization: “I serve on the board of a major money management company, and I am intrigued by the pivotal role played by their in-house analysts. The analysts don’t generally invest money but they provide crucial information, often identifying sometimes unrecognized opportunities and risks. I have often wondered whether APM could benefit from a similar function, and now we have an opportunity to find out.

“The role of analyst is somewhat different from ‘research.’ They do the research or gather it, but then they think through the data and information they’ve received and advise on making or not making an investment. At APM | MPR the analysts would play a similar function in leading the news team towards the thoughtfully analyzed implications of a potential news story.”

Mission, innovation, opportunity. Sounds like something I can get behind. We hope you can too.


A word about “Lab Notes”

A name like APM Research Lab lends itself to all sorts of metaphors. We have yet to adopt a Labrador Retriever and name her “Research.” But we have adopted “Lab Notes” as the title of our blog.

Here we intend to bring you short takes, interesting facts, and worthwhile insights from the world of social science and beyond. For example, our first couple of entries will feature some findings that we unearthed from the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent major data release.

In future posts we will highlight important research done by others. And we will, of course, base some entries on our own work. We’ve just completed data collection on a very interesting project with Minnesota Public Radio News, and can’t wait to share the results.

Please send us your thoughts (info@apmresearchlab.org ) and connect with us via social media. We look forward to hearing from you.

-Craig


Craig Helmstetter