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If you were a professional journalist, do you think your chief goals would be the same as that of a social scientist? Should they be the same? Why or why not?

To answer the question you must understand the difference between the two jobs. A social scientist investigates human behavior and analyzes how different social and cultural settings impact it. A professional journalist investigates news, pursuing leads and gathering information. Professional journalists reports their findings in an unbiased manner, trying not to unduly influence audience reaction to the news. The social scientist tries to convince audiences that the findings and conclusions of their research are accurate.

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Before you answer this question, you should make sure that you understand the difference between the two jobs. The job of a social scientist is to investigate human behavior and how different social and cultural settings might impact it. In comparison, the job of a professional journalist is to investigate news stories by pursuing leads and gathering information. The professional journalist then reports on these findings in an unbiased manner.

The output of the professional journalist’s investigative work—a news story—generally is distributed through one or more of a variety of media, including print, television, radio or online. The output of the social scientist’s investigative work—usually a white paper or academic study—generally is distributed through an academic publication or published as a standalone study.

News is supposed to be balanced, unbiased and objective, allowing the audience to make up their own minds about news being reported. It is generally not the job of a professional journalist to try to influence how the audience reacts to the news, which is different than the objective of a social scientist, whose objective is usually to convince the reader that his findings and conclusions are accurate. Of course, there are times when it is difficult for the journalist to merely report the news without inserting some element of bias but a good reporter needs to do his/her best to remain objective. An investigative news story is not an op-ed piece.

With this in mind, you can probably answer the question of whether your chief goal as a professional journalist would be—or should be—the same as that of a social scientist. Having made that determination, you can also then answer the other questions about the goals of these two professionals.

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