Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Science and Society / Analytical work: the experience of Russian and foreign experts / Other
Features of the preparation and use of analytical materials
Material posted: Publication date: 17-07-2013

The threefold task of our virtual discussion is to discuss the differences of analytical materials from journalism, to find out the specifics of production Analytics for the media and eventually to prepare their own analytical materials.

This is discussed below the production preparation process analysts, and customer, genre features and guidelines, as well as technique work. Since the analyst is most likely to exist in text form, I suggest, for simplicity, be considered “analysis” article that addresses a problem.

Analytics and journalism: production differences

Immediately need to mention that we will talk about the ideal differences which are typically masked in reality. Next, we are interested in the modern type of public analysts for media, which combines the features of traditional journalism and information exploration, but preliminary it is necessary to distinguish several essential features of journalistic production and Analytics.


  • The journalist works within the ACC. the law on mass media, which implies the legal responsibility for their content
  • Journalist modern media works publicly and often for a projected audience

First, due to particularities of production, journalist (together with the editors) usually at risk of prosecution. To minimize this risk, the professional journalism has developed a “ritual of objectivity” that allows the journalist to Express their own opinions and are to blame for content material on external sources. For this widely used opinions of experts, officials, encyclopedias, press releases, etc. (Tuchman, 1972)


  • Special legislative framework for the production analysts usually no
  • The analyst often works as a non-public and for specific customer (gosudarstvo, private company, NGO)

As in the case of journalism, these features generate form a certain professional culture. Typically the customer expects from the analyst as a time independent view of a particular issue and presenting different points of view of experts, as often practiced in the media. This is due to the aim of the order: to obtain information on which decisions can be made (in the public administration, politics or business).

As a consequence, the main requirement for the analytical product is the usefulness and not the controversial material, as often happens in journalism. The analytical material should solve the problem and save the customer's time and not to give him any reason to think or a good time. A type of Analytics can be considered an information service of strategic intelligence, which still operates under different names in military and special services of the States (Platt, 1958), as well as in the security services businesses in the form of competitive intelligence (Doronin, 2003).

The principle of publicity and its practical implications

The production of journalism and intelligence have practical implications. So, you should expect that journalists in the mass – will try not to Express their own opinions, and to transfer the responsibility for a more authoritative source: expert, official document etc. furthermore, if the journalist works for a busy schedule and in a particular political situation, then we should expect that the range of topics and sources of information will narrow. A typical example of this rule – the majority of Belarusian governmental and non-governmental publications.

In turn, the analyst's work ethic makes him cautious when speaking in public, because in this case it is automatically subject to both written and unwritten laws (morality). In the case of the speeches in the newspaper, radio or TV program analyst instinctively begins to smooth out the rough edges and use a formalized Aesopian language “modernization”, “reform” and “cost optimization” and other politically correct rpm or hints. Therefore, when working with analytical products or in conversation with the analyst should always be asking, in what area and with what clients it works. The answers to these questions will allow a better understanding of the meaning and decipher the statements of the analyst.

The difference in legal responsibilities of the journalist and analyst is reflected in the work with sources of information. So, in the analyst is allowed and sometimes even encouraged the analysis of rumors, insider or other confidential and sensitive for the reputation of the object of analysis of the sources. Since the final product is likely to be available to a limited circle of persons, the author has analysts appears greater scope for conclusions.

Conversely, if the analytical product, not originally intended for the General public, still gets in the media, the author risks at least their reputation. In such cases the indictment the main argument by the public is (excessive) pragmatism and frankness of the author – just the qualities that appreciates the customer Analytics. The classic example of this moral conflict, the treatise “Sovereign” N. Machiavelli, more modern example is the reaction to the revelation of some diplomatic representatives in the American Embassy dispatches, published by Wikileaks. The example of Belarus from 2007 – leak from the IAC notes on information policy of the state.

Analyst in the media: Belarusian examples

Above we have discussed the ideal differences between intelligence and journalism. In reality, these genres usually are intertwined – especially in today's popular media Analytics. As a consequence, the analyst is forced to consider the canons of journalism: be ready to bear legal responsibility for the content and to focus not on the individual customer and a wider audience of readers.

In addition, analysts are actively using other valuable groundwork from the areas of journalism – from the structure of the text, writing style and content visualization to fashion promotion in social networks. In recent years in Belarus there are many new analytical media projects. Here are some of them in alphabetical order:

Offer for example to consider weekly monitoring (pdf) of the informational Bureau of solidarity with democratic Belarus. The product is the monitoring of events of the week in the sphere of economy, politics, international relations and contains thematic regional review. The file is sent to subscribers on Mondays, and on the project website published an adapted version of the monitoring, tailored to the canons of journalism.

If you look at the structure of a single material, we can see that the editors follow the principle of “inverted pyramid” *. This principle assumes that the main argument of the text comes first and the least important at the end. In turn, each paragraph of text is based on the same principle: in the first sentence usually contains the main argument, which is then disclosed in more detail. This, of course, the General rule that, if necessary, can be violated.

Another example is the materials of the Agency of political expertise, which operates at the Belarusian Institute for strategic studies. The Agency produces three main products:

  • Review (reasoned opinion on a particular issue, event),
  • Review (trend analysis, environmental problem or event)
  • Release (presentation for mass media of activity of the partner Agency)

If the border between the Commentary and the Review is rather arbitrary, the format of the Release suggests objective presentation of another point of view. The releases are designed to inform customers of the Agency, as well as a wider expert and journalistic community about new research, held round tables, presentations and other events in Belarusian and international intellectual industry. The standard Comment is 7-8 thousand characters with spaces, the Review may be (substantially) more, and Release – about 5 thousand characters with spaces.

Another example of the Belarusian analytical product – “an Express examination”. The product exists in the form of a short comment that is issued by a website of the expert community of Belarus “Our opinion”. Express review analyst suggests the answer to a question, the amount of text is usually in the range of 2-3 thousand characters.

The process of production analysts

As in journalism, the analytic work the important role played by consultation with the editor, during which usually discusses the topic, format and volume of material, and also used sources of information. Practice shows that in Analytics usually are not welcome the canons of satirical journalism, namely literariness of the writing or the moral claims of the author. As noted above, the purpose of Analytics is to solve the problem and save the customer's time. Therefore, among the journalistic genres closest to Analytics is business journalism.

Typical examples of topics for analytical material. Each of these topics can be narrowed or expanded depending on the format:

  • assess the international reaction to the event (the sale of Beltransgaz, the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union state, ...)
  • to predict the behavior of the authorities and workers during the next strike
  • to assess the stability of the financial system and to propose scenarios of the monetary policy of the state
  • to predict the actions of the authorities, the opposition, observers and neighboring countries during the active phase of the election campaign
  • to assess the impact of NPP construction on the economy of Belarus and of the region.

The problem of sources of information is particularly relevant for Belarus. In the case of media analysis has the same limitations as for conventional media – ACC. the laws and the informal rules of communication with sources. For example, there is a reasoned opinion that Belarusian officials are reluctant to give comments to the media. On the other hand, there is ample evidence, as they share valuable information off the record, and this is confirmed by the examples of successful work of some analysts.

With regard to the manufacturing routine, for the analytic characteristic regular work with statistical data. Equally important are regular media monitoring and production of analytical colleagues on the shop floor. This work especially facilitate modern means, from RSS readers and mailing lists to projects based on open data. **


* According to the legend, the principle of the inverted pyramid was invented by an American journalists who passed received his telegram. The relationship left much to be desired, the tape could break, so the most important information needed to pass first time. This principle has been successfully applied in the preparation of articles in The New York Times and other publications.

** Learn more about open data, see the "Hidden capital of open data".

Sources used:

  • Platt V. Information strategic of intelligence work. Basic principles. Moscow, 1958.
  • Doronin A. Business intelligence. Moscow, 2003.
  • Tuchman, G. (1972). Objectivity as strategic ritual: An examination of newsmen''s notions of objectivity. The American Journal of Sociology, 77(4), 660-679.

Alexey Medvetsky



RELATED MATERIALS: Science and Society
Возрастное ограничение