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Week 5

Interview exercise:
Attached should be a segment of an interview I did with the KUTE Operations Manager. For our
purposes today we will call him Max. There were some recording errors so only the first 10
minutes of the interview was recorded but fortunately I took notes for the rest of it. Before I
begin doing any analyzing I want to share what I wrote for Exercise 7.1 in the Tracy book to
practice some self-reflexivity before I conducted the interview.
1. My interview subject is a 20 year old white male who goes to a public university. He is
small and clean cut and has a slight hunch from some sort of back problem. He is very
skilled with technology. I am also a white male but a bit older than him (23) and I am
larger and have a bit more facial hair. I am older, I look older, I am taller, and less clean
cut. I am moderately skilled with technology
2. The style will be very conversational and center on technology. Max is savvier with the
technology I will interview him about, but I have a fairly firm grasp on it. The
conversational quality will come to light instantly since we have now worked together for
about 3 years and we are not only coworkers but also friends.
3. I think that this will impact the data collection in a positive way. While I am technically
his boss, since we are friends he is more likely to be comfortable criticizing management
decisions. That being said there is no way to guarantee he feels this way though I am
fairly confident he does. Our relationship will be the most influential dynamic in the
interview however, so does our understanding of technology. His job at the radio station
is entirely warranted and dictated by the software we will be talking about. While he may
gripe and grown about it, he will likely talk about its many virtues since it is the reason
he is employed.
While Max may seem like a sample out of convenience he is one of the most critical people to
talk to when attempting to answer my research question of How does DAD Radio Automation
software construct and manage radio DJs
The interview
Though Max knows I understand DAD I decided to still play the deliberately nave stance
so that he would provide information that I could then use as an illustration if I were to write
about this subject for a paper (which I plan to). I conducted the interview while Max was doing
some maintenance on DAD in the KUTE studio, so he could show me anything on the software
if need be. The conversation kept taking a turn to talking about how to use DAD and the
technical capabilities of DAD. In terms of body language Max is very good about talking into
my microphone since he is experienced with radio, however whenever he is stumped by a certain
question like What do DJs think about DAD or What was KUTE like before DAD he would
avert his eyes and stare into the DAD computer screen which was right next to us.
A recurring theme was that of professionalization, which leads me to two assumptions
about what Max as a manager thinks about student radio and the software 1. Student DJs in the
past were not professional and they should be. 2. The software forces DJs to become more
professional. 3. A more professional DJ managed by software creates better radio. I challenge
these assumptions when I ask him how did this affect managements relationships with DJs?
which he did not know how to answer. From this interview I can see where my further inquiry
should go. Next I need to talk with DJs and ask them about management. Additionally I need to
ask them how easy it is for them to use the software and how it has changed their shows. On the
other side of things I need too talk to the rest of the management staff to see how they see where
DAD comes in as a management tool. Max is by far the most immersed in the software so it will
be valuable to hear other managerial ideas of how and why they chose to implement DAD.

Reading:
In the 8.1 researchers note pad Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik talks about the ethical conflicts
that exits when researchers ask participants to relieve painful experiences. Pamela uses the
pedagogical approach where she allows herself to be compassionate during the interview
comforting the interviewee who had been bullied. As a fairly compassionate person I am sure I
would react in a similar way, however I think there is still an ethical struggle here. I am reminded
by this approach of a journalists responsibility to remain objective and distanced. My
grandfather used to be a journalist and editor of a major newspaper in Denmark and I remember
when he saw Sanjay Gupda helping and performing surgeries on children while reporting for
CNN on the Haiti earthquake. My grandfather thought that it was a hugely unethical act as it
clouded his objectivity. I think that my grandfather had a very idealized vision of what a
journalist is, and like a researcher I think failed to see that at the end of the day there is no such
thing as true objectivity.
I wonder where the ethical responsibility lies when conducting research. If during a
conversational unscripted interview during an ethnographic project an interviewee begins
reliving painful experiences, are researchers required to comfort them? If a researcher decides to
comfort them cant this be considered a bit misleading, the interviewee will likely share more
with the researcher than they think they want to share. For example, say research is being done
on perceptions of race in a conflicted community. Think American History X when a black man
kills the main characters father and he uses this event as a misguided entryway into racism and
eventually becomes a skinhead. What if the interviewee shares their emotional story of their
fathers death, the researcher comforts them without agreeing without the interviewees racist
conclusion. The interviewee may think that this means the researcher agrees with their stand
point and then may open up and share additional information that they would not have otherwise
shared with the researcher. While compassionate the researcher is also a critical race theorist and
uses the data in a way that is critical of what the interviewee said.
Is this good research because it uncovered valuable insight? Or is it unethical because an
interviewee was subtly mislead by the researchers compassion? Additionally, would it be
unethical to conduct a study on how respondents react to compassionate vs. uncompassionate
interviewers? Is it wrong to purposely ignore the pain you as a researcher asked the interviewee
to relive? While I think it would be interesting to see what kind of informational discrepancies
there are between the two styles personally I believe that if you are causing someone to
experience pain it is ok to comfort them so long as you are not doing so to attempt to get
sensitive information out of them.
I think that when I begin writing about whatever qualitative data I receive about radio
automation it will be done in a Creative impressionist style. I think that this style will suite me
because I work at the radio station and while the other employees will be the stars of the show I
do not think I can give proper insight and analysis unless I adopt terms like I and We. While
I also think it will be more enjoyable for myself to write in this style (I know doing things for my
own convenience is not a good attribute for a qualitative researcher) I think it will increase the
readability and potential for public impact. Though I plan to use my scholarship to write a dense
and overly complicated thesis including an overbroad literature review and lack of confident
claims (hopefully it will be good and I will avoid these mistakes) I would like my findings to be
eventually translatable to a public scholarship form. Ideality I could manifest it in a form of
white paper or even more likely some form of consulting. My goal would be to be able to
translate my research findings and fit it into the first 15 minutes of KUTEs staff meeting.
During this meeting I will ask for feedback and hopefully create some kind of living documents
that can be used at KUTE and maybe even other college radio stations for years to come.

Outside:
For outside reading I want to talk about a lack of method or at least a stated method. In
Documentary Film as Policy Analysis: The Impact of yes, In my Backyard on Activists,
Agendas, and Policy by Whiteman. The article is centered on how documentary film making
can be an effective method for stimulating issue networks to action. While I agree with his
findings his method for assessing whether documentary filmmaking is a good method is never
really mentioned in full detail. After reading the article it becomes apparent that he interviewed
activist groups and the director of the film extensively but did not provide any self-reflexivity or
any guidance in how he coded for a theme. The piece is almost an oral history since it is mostly
about how the director secured funding and distribution and came into context with issue
networks (activists). While it is stated in the article that the issue network is the unit of analysis
then he simply brings up a few examples of times where a community saw the film and then
some kind of activist action took place. It is clear some sort of method was used but he does not
explain the systematic process that he went through. Honestly in the past I would have not have
noticed this and even maybe thankful that I did not have to read more. However, now that I know
more about method it is hard not to care.
Although not specifically reading Dan Canary shared his process of coding for his current
project on minimally rational argument at Fridays colloquium. Not only did he do a play by play
during his talk but he handed out three forms, one uncoded conversation, a coding sheet, and the
same conversation coded. While I have been exposed to coding in Anderson, Tracy and in
NVivo it was nice to see how someone was using it in a project start to finish. Additionally other
professors like Kevin Coe asked questions about the coding that I would not have thought to ask
nor be confident to ask. Dr. Canary also talked about the time it takes to train a good coder. For
the most part when I thought about coding before now I thought of it as a long but easy task.
However, Dan said that it takes about 10 hours for a coder to really get their head around what
they are actually coding. This shocked me because the conversation fit on just one sheet of paper
but then my mind was changed once he passed out the code instruction sheet. I will put the
coding handouts Dr. Canary gave out in my folder incase anyone would be interested in seeing
them in class next week.

Class:
The following is my self-reflexivity statement from class on Tuesday the 23
rd

I do not believe in objectivity or Truth. I am doing an ethnographic study of the student radios
implementation of radio automation software. While I am looking to study the relationship
between the two (radio & software) I am aware I am coming from a critical software studies
perspective and my views of technology to manage creative work is from the view point of critic.
I have a general mistrust of management. That being said, I am the person who manages the
student station that I wish to study and while I do harbor some self-hatred, I think this puts me in
a unique and powerful position in this context. (Originally handwritten, I kept the poor grammar
and punctuation as is)
This was all I had time to write however; the exercise was valuable more so in how I got
to see how Ashly had written hers. She is studying a very different subject form mine and as
someone with a quantitative background it was interesting to see how she thought of self-
reflexivity. For Ashly her statement was more providing a clear view of her intentions and
practices as a scholar. For someone such as myself who has never conducted quantitative
research nor qualitative, mine read a lot more like a personal confession. These self-reflexivity
statements would be useful to do before attempting to pursue any study. I basically view it as
writing a letter to ones self detailing why they are an ill fit and should not pursue the research.
This may sound harsh, but for me it is a valuable lens to view it through because it invites you to
be as critical as possible about yourself even though you know you are going to conduct the
research anyway, which in turn accomplishes the goal of researcher self-awareness.
The Majority of class was spent with NVivo training. I am not sure how many insightful
notes I have from the experience. We went over so much I only think I really grasped a few
things well. However, what the examples really showed me were the wealth of ways to organize
and visualize the data. If there is one thing I am realizing is that I need to get some data to start
putting into NVivo every time so I am working towards something. Hopefully after October 2
nd

(my prospectus defense) I can begin some data collection. I think once I have some data of my
own to put in NVivo it will be easier for me to become familiar with coding and the other things
NVivo allows you to do. Since this class has started I have begun being more organized in my
article collection and using Zotero correctly. I wonder if it would be possible to use NVivo not
only to code data but also to organize articles. I am not exactly sure how this would work but I
am sure there is some way to do it.

Getting up to date: Sept 16 week before Tracy
Class:
One of the questions we were told to consider this week was to consider what good work
looked like to us. What I look for in professional writing is not the same as what I look for in my
current writing because I know that the style I am writing in now is provisional. When I read
academic books and articles I first look for an abstract that is written in plain English. I do not
want to read a whole article hoping to find some information that I thought was in a cryptic
abstract. At this point in my studies really anything that is written exceedingly clear is valuable
to me especially when it is related to theory. Case studies are nice but I prefer foundational
pieces since I am still trying to find my way into a scholarly conversation. Though I am still just
a graduate student I expect good scholarly writing to be well versed in literature from other areas
of communication. For example, the other day I read an organizational article that was all well
and good, but then said that there was no research that had been done that examined which
frames were successful for promoting action in regard to climate change. This was the first time I
have ever thought to myself wait, thats not true _____ solved this in the article in my
communicating climate change class.
For myself expectations are a lot lower. I know I have done quality work when I am
above all clear and am using a theory correctly. Most of the time I am confused as to what
actually constitutes theory since many times things that are billed as theories are often times
frameworks or models for explaining phenomena, which was often the case in Sabatiers 2007
book Theories of the Policy Process. Despite my theory confusion I am most inclined to agree
with the definition on theory found in chapter 6 and 11 of the Anderson book. Clarity and
understanding may be a low bar to set but it is what I think I need to focus on right now.
Additionally, while I do not think professional scholarship needs a direct application, in my own
work I think of application as being central to whether or not I am successful. I asked Patrick
Burkart (last weeks colloquium speaker) during lunch How do you know when you have
created quality work?. Patrick proceeded to paraphrase Snoop Dogg about how Snoop theorized
good work but told in a very scholarly manner, which was very funny. Effectively he said you
never really know, you will be forever critical of yourself and your writing so the best thing is to
listen to others feedback and eventually after years of hard work you will feel less and less like
an imposter. Not exactly a cookbook style process like something out of Tracy, but very honest.
Reading:
What I have proposed in my draft of my prospectus is what Anderson calls in chapter 15
a Hybrid form of ethnography. At the time of writing my most recent draft I did not really think
of this as a problem, however now I am beginning to see that it may be more problematic than I
thought. In my prospectus I cited an article that advocated for the method of critical ethnography,
which seeks to ask the questions of why and how things can be different which is often left
out of observational ethnography. This is definitely a move where one foot is in the rhetorical
side of the line and the other in systematic empirical. Though I do not think of myself as a
rhetorician (I am frightened by the term mostly) I thought this would be perfect since I already
have some ideas about what I think is going on in terms of radio automation software at KUTE.
At what point do I stop practicing the diligent self-reflexivity of a systematic empiricist
and start turning into a rhetorical auto ethnographer? The reason I latched onto the critical
ethnography approach was because it was from a feminist and critical race theorist lens that
hoped to expose power imbalance and oppression. However, while this method is being used to
do good now, this approach is not unlike the original ethnographies that were used to explain
why other cultures were (seemingly) inferior as to perpetuate colonial and racist action. Though
the reason has changed from dehumanizing a group to attempting to suggest alternatives to
certain societal structures and cultures to empower under represented groups, the use of the term
why always brings with it the end of attempted objectivity (which a critical ethnographer
would probably have no problem with). While I think that the work of critical ethnography is be
important, I would guess that it could be considered mostly rhetorical and I wonder if since my
study has less to do with power (though there is power everywhere) I should probably avoid my
hybrid approach and amended it to a systematic empirical one to provide more clarity and more
rigor. Or maybe I just think that right now.