Time to specialise in special reports
The role of organisations goes beyond issuing reports. It should extend to evaluating and measuring the impact and footprint of each report.
A few years ago, experts at the World Bank wanted to assess the impact of 1,600 critical reports issued by their organisation over the years, resulting in an expense of millions of dollars. It turned out that most of the PDF files published on the website had been downloaded merely between 0 and 100 times.
The interest shown in the reports was shallow and did not prove to be proportionate to the resources and effort spent. However, this does not mean that the PDF reports were worthless. An economist called Christopher Ingraham reviewed the contents of many of these reports and noted in a report published by Washington Post that many of the solutions to the world's contemporary problems may be buried in the World Bank's reports that no one has reviewed yet.
I was reminded of this while I was observing the vast number of reports shared on WhatsApp these days. Stories come from local organisations and even from countries far and wide; some reports also bear the name of international organisations. They vary in form and content and cover topics ranging from health and technology to daily life and human relations; from management and spending to the present and future and even beyond.
How many people read these reports? Are they beneficial? Where do they end up? These are essential questions. However, the most crucial issue is that of credibility, reliability, and the real scientific and practical value of such reports.
I have no intention of underestimating any report being circulated. I believe that writing and interpreting reports involve intellect. However, the role of organisations goes beyond issuing reports. It should extend to evaluating and measuring the impact and footprint of each report.
Organisations should evaluate whether the report achieved the purpose for which it was drafted and whether it justified the money, time, and effort spent on it. If a story is useful and vital, its release should be based on a plan to ensure that it reaches the target audience. This would also help in measuring the reach and impact of the report.
I think many reports that are circulated have value while others may have the potential to be improved and developed in form and content. Perhaps, there could be some standards that could guide us if a report is useful.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is the Director General, TRA