I realize that in the days of sensationalism and headlines you want to have something “catchy” that draws your readers’ attention; however, the headline “MUN research income down 5.8%” in your paper Oct. 22 was clearly taken out of context and likely didn’t do much to help an institution that is such an important contributor to both the economy and social fabric of life in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In defense of the author, the article referenced several points made by Dr. Christopher Loomis, the vice-president of research, that clearly explained this was not a true decrease in research funding but simply a snapshot in time. As Dr. Loomis states, most research grants are multi-year projects and therefore have a multi-year cycle. Looking at it from that perspective, Dr. Loomis states research funds awarded to Memorial University have been “going up every year, and they’re up again this year.” So in the end, there wasn’t much to that story.
So why is this a missed opportunity? Because of the much more important messages that could have become the headline, like the level of investment being made and the need for continued support of infrastructure in order to remain competitive and attract new faculty. Those new faculty will want to do research and it is research that spurs innovation.
Studies conducted on the value of research at other institutions have shown that for every $1 invested into research you get $2 of regional economic growth. That’s not bad and that is certainly something to write about.
Yes, if someone were to read the article they would have received a different message, but let’s face it, most people who are busy read the headline and may not get to page A3 for the details.
In times when a government is concerned about fiscal responsibility (meaning cuts) many people still worry about their economic prosperity. Not all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador are able to find employment in the gas and oil sector. Headlines do impact consumer confidence, and reading headlines like these — especially when they don’t reflect the truth of the matter — do more harm than good.
Is The Telegram the type of company that only looks to tomorrow’s headlines and sales, or is it the type of company that is willing to use its position of influence to help uplift and support the institutions that have created jobs and opportunity for many of its readers? After all, the more growth there is, the more customers you have. It just seems to make sense to me.