I am just getting my mind around the devastation of hurricane Katrina, like many around the world seeing whole cities washed away and witnessing the awesome power nature can unleash makes me realize that the things I worry about on a daily basis, in the grand scheme of things, don't amount to much.
I'm teaching the research methods in audience analysis class, as some of you know. The first half of that class deals with the ratings industry, Nielsen and Arbitron primarily. One of the main themes that I'm trying to get across is that even though there are substantial problems in methodology used by these two companies, the overarching pressure is for business to continue. The sense you get from, the researchers, the advertisers, and the stations is often one of acceptance of the drawbacks to methodologies. In order for business to continue.
Usually, as someone who came from an industry background, I'm fine with "the business must continue" mantra. However, lately some of the headlines coming out of trade magazine web sites have really rubbed me the wrong way. For example, take a look at this.
To me lines like "we realize television ratings pale in comparison to massive loss of life" ring hollow. When you then continue with the story discussing how national clients may not get their cost per point levels to where they want them because some people meters have been washed out to sea.
Radio was not immune to this approach, as you can see here.
Don't get me wrong, the broadcasting industry does great humanitarian work and has already responded to the Katrina tragedy. But for some reason, these two stories have really gotten under my skin...