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A Not-So-Modest Proposal: Advancing a Research Agenda for Studying Central Asia Mass Media
Unformatted Document Text:  radio outlets are similarly hampered by the absence of adequate archives and transcripts and by station closures. Scholars who conduct survey, interview, and focus group research may find prospective respondents unwilling to participate, sometimes from fear of governmental retaliation or other repercussions, or from lack of familiarity with the researchers. When Pitts surveyed journalists in Kyrgyzstan, some declined to take part out of concern about potential intimidation or violence. 23 However, in my interview research with journalists, public relations professionals, and media analysts, respondents receive an informed consent form with the option of keeping their names confidential; the vast majority agreed to be interviewed on the record and without anonymity. Other obstacles include the logistics and expense of travel to and within the region, as well as the need for many foreign scholars to obtain visas for research that “repressitarian” regimes—ones that are both authoritarian in governance and repressive in human rights practices —view warily. 24 This paper addresses additional obstacles in its discussion of specific potential research topics. Unexplored and under-explored territory This paper does not attempt to provide an exhaustive list of potential research topics but identifies a wide range ripe for exploration through a variety of methodologies. Some topics do not fit cleanly into a single category. For example, the influence of advertisers on news content involves significant elements of media economics, journalistic practices, and ethics. Similarly, access to “public” information involves journalistic practice, governmental public relations, media agenda-setting, and differences between state-owned outlets on one hand and independent or oppositional outlets on the other hand. After discussing seven prospective research areas in detail, the paper briefly suggests several others worth scholarly attention. 23 G. Pitts, “Professionalism among journalists in Kyrgyzstan,” in E. Freedman, R. Shafer, After the czars and commissars: Journalism in authoritarian Post-Soviet Central Asia. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI, 2011, pp. 233-243. 24 E. Freedman, R. Shafer, S. Antonova, op. cit. 9

Authors: Freedman, Eric.
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background image
radio outlets are similarly hampered by the absence of adequate archives and transcripts and by 
station closures. 
Scholars who conduct survey, interview, and focus group research may find prospective 
respondents unwilling to participate, sometimes from fear of governmental retaliation or other 
repercussions, or from lack of familiarity with the researchers. When Pitts surveyed journalists in 
Kyrgyzstan, some declined to take part out of concern about potential intimidation or violence.
However, in my interview research with journalists, public relations professionals, and media 
analysts, respondents receive an informed consent form with the option of keeping their names 
confidential; the vast majority agreed to be interviewed on the record and without anonymity. 
Other obstacles include the logistics and expense of travel to and within the region, as 
well as the need for many foreign scholars to obtain visas for research that “repressitarian” 
regimes—ones that are both authoritarian in governance and repressive in human rights practices
—view warily.
 This paper addresses additional obstacles in its discussion of specific potential 
research topics. 
Unexplored and under-explored territory
This paper does not attempt to provide an exhaustive list of potential research topics but 
identifies a wide range ripe for exploration through a variety of methodologies. Some topics do 
not fit cleanly into a single category. For example, the influence of advertisers on news content 
involves significant elements of media economics, journalistic practices, and ethics. Similarly, 
access to “public” information involves journalistic practice, governmental public relations, 
media agenda-setting, and differences between state-owned outlets on one hand and independent 
or oppositional outlets on the other hand. After discussing seven prospective research areas in 
detail, the paper briefly suggests several others worth scholarly attention. 
23
 G. Pitts, “Professionalism among journalists in Kyrgyzstan,” in E. Freedman, R. 
Shafer, After the czars and commissars: Journalism in authoritarian Post-Soviet Central Asia
Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI, 2011, pp. 233-243.
24
 E. Freedman, R. Shafer, S. Antonova, op. cit.
9


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