Why Mass Media Matter to Planning Research: The Case of Megaprojects
AbstractThis article asks how planning scholarship may effectively gain impact in planning practice through media exposure. In liberal democracies, the public sphere is dominated by mass media. Therefore, working with such media is a prerequisite for effective public impact of planning research. Using the example of megaproject planning, it is illustrated how so-called “phronetic planning research,” which explicitly incorporates in its methodology active and strategic collaboration with media, may be helpful in generating change in planning practice via the public sphere. Main lessons learned are as follows: (1) working with mass media is an extremely cost-effective way to increase the impact of planning scholarship on practice; (2) recent developments in information technology and social media have made impact via mass media even more effective; (3) research on “tension points,” that is, points of potential conflict, are particularly interesting to media and the public, and are especially likely to generate change in practice; and (4) tension points bite back; planning researchers should be prepared for, but not afraid of, this.