Background Research and Ethical Considerations

header image source: JordanBoltonDesign, Etsy

As mentioned in my previous blog “Problematisation, Planning and Scheduling Research”, I discussed how I’m interested in focusing on how the opinions of Youtubers in the movie commentary niche, are able to alter those of the audience members. Now that I have problematised my niche, the next step is to take a look at the research that has already been conducted on this issue, while considering the ethics involved in conducting the research.

Background Research:

‘Influence of Social Media on Performance of Movies’: A study by Shruti et al. (2014) discussed how recent developments in social media have altered consumer behaviour within audience members. More specifically, they studied the impact social media has on box office performance and profitability of movies. In the paper, they concluded that “social media influences the performance of movies significantly”. They go on to theorise that the like count of movie pages on social media platforms influence people’s decision making when buying a ticket to watch a movie in theatre — or in more recent years, their decision to subscribe to a streaming service. This reflects public acceptance. This is interesting considering the topic I want to focus on relates to Youtubers’ influence on audience members regarding movie likability. Now that I know likes on videos have an influence, it’s important to also find out if the opinions of these Youtubers have a larger effect.

‘A Temporal Study of the Effects of Online Opinions: Information Sources Matter’: Huang et al. (2017) conducted a study on how online comments from different platforms have the ability to influence a movie’s box office receipts over time. They found that a high volume of online comments, namely from Youtube commentary channels, generate a higher level of awareness of the movie, attracting individuals’ attention. Furthermore, peer comments have a positive influence in the early stages of a movie’s release, but the influence decreases over time — this may be due to the Youtube reviews being a replacement for the movie itself. This relates to my niche as some of the most successful Youtube reviews are based on streaming service originals (i.e. Netflix original movies). Since the wait for approval from production companies is shortened with streaming services, commentary Youtubers are able to post about a movie within a week of its release — having the ability to drastically alter the success — hence proving that Youtubers have a high influence on the audience.

Although research in this media niche is scarce, I plan to sort through more academic journals in the weeks to follow in order to further understand the specifics of my media niche, as well as opinion leaders and their degree of influence they have on an audience.

Ethical Considerations:

Ethnographers have an ethical duty to represent their findings in an accurate and respectful manner (Mertens, 2014). Therefore, a series of considerations must be established and adhered to, which will ensure all research practices are ethical.

My niche is focused on Youtubers reacting to Hollywood productions — so I must not only take into consideration the personal opinions of the content creators, but also the copyright of the films and TV shows being shown. This means I must give credit to any and all productions being discussed. Furthermore, the personal opinions of audience members will be examined, some of which many be seen as ‘controversial’, so it is imperative that I represent my findings in a way that will not harm any persons involved. This includes being accurate with the findings, as well as not sharing or disclosing any information without consent.

Now it’s time to really begin this ethnographical research project. I’ll talk to you soon.

Reference List:

Huang, J. Boh, WF. & Goh, KH. (2017). ’A temporal study of the effects of online opinions: information sources matter’, Journal of Management Information Systems, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 1169–1202.

Mertens, D. (2014). Ethical use of qualitative data and findings, The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis, Sage, Los Angeles, pp. 510-523.

Shruti. SD, Roy. & W, Zeng. (2014). ‘Influence of social media on performance of movies’, International Conference on Multimedia and Expo Workshops, IEEE.

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