Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Does Six-Figure Funding Automatically Lend Objectivity and Credibility?

I was struck this morning by the counterpoint of two Nashville City Paper articles only columns apart from each other. One the one hand, Belmont University, a partner with the local music industry, conducted a study that found a multi-billion dollar impact by the music industry on Nashville. On the other hand, Council member John Summers catches criticism for conducting a poll to determine support for and opposition to a Sylvan Park conservation overlay, using proponents of the overlay to gather the information.

It seems to me that if one is going to criticize the use of proponents to gather info in one study (Sylvan Park), then one must also criticize the use of a proponent to gather info in the other study (music industry). To put it another way, if an independent source should have gathered info on attitudes to a conservation overlay because proponents are too embedded to be objective, then we should not accept Belmont's findings as objective without a more independent review of the data. Belmont might be too invested in the outcome of its study of the music industry to be objective.

Belmont sunk six-figure funding into its study, while Summers relied on volunteers. But let's be fair about this. That difference should not give Belmont's situation more credibility than the Council member's situation.

No comments:

Post a Comment