I overheard my ND talk about "current research" being done on our anchors. What does that mean?
Well, tucked away secretly in that government vault we saw at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" are surveys your station has taken.
Yep, that stuff is classified, right along with the current location of aliens that landed at Roswell and the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa.
Call them "Q" ratings or "station research" or whatever, they are fancy pie charts or bar graphs that tell a station how you are perceived in the community.
When you're in management, you'll hear stuff like, "Our research shows she's very popular and well liked by young women." Or "He doesn't do well in research. Maybe we should replace him."
Most station research is done by consultants or firms that specialize in such things.
Let's say you're a main anchor and your station wants to know what the viewers think of you. Someone will get a call and hear questions like this:
"Do you recognize the name Barbie Fembot?"
If the caller says yes, they'll get this question:
"Do you like Barbie Fembot?"
Other questions regarding credibility and other such qualities will follow. Then the magical pie charts will appear on a manager's desk. The chart might say that while 80 percent of viewers recognize the name Barbie Fembot, only 40 percent of those like her.
So our anchor would have "high negatives." If most of the people who recognized Barbie liked her, she'd be someone who "tests high in research."
Then you have the focus groups. I've actually been in a few of these in regard to entertainment pilots. You're given a little wheel like a teleprompter control, and told to turn it one way if you like what you're seeing and another if you don't. The more you turn it, the more you like or dislike the current video.
What does all this mean to you? Well, viewer opinions are important. Even if ratings are great, viewers may not like a certain member of a news team. This type of research gives a station information that goes beyond basic Nielsen numbers.