The AREA Method

Turning Good Ideas Into Great Thinking

The AREA Method will help you make better…

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"At a high-level, I really benefited from using the AREA method... and plan a similar order of operations going forward." - Toby

"I think the process was extremely useful and really forced me to prove assertions with real data." - Thomas

"I would recommend it to others as a good toolkit/checklist. It is a valuable and unique way to look at problems." - Brendan

"I do think that ultimately, the AREA method led me to a better research outcome. I feel more confident and comfortable with my work and analysis. I would use the AREA method again." - Lauren

"Overall the AREA method helped me enormously in my research process." - Michael

We all make decisions every day, but most of us have never been taught how to make those big decisions that every once in a while come into our lives.

As an investigative journalist I developed the AREA Method to explore sticky real-world situations. At its core, there are two kinds of learning: knowledge and skill. The AREA Method is a skill. I can explain it and teach it to you, and you can apply it to all kinds of complicated decisions.

This website introduces the AREA Method and provides practical guidance so you can start using it. Look for my forthcoming book, Problem Solved, that describes the full method.

  • note-from-cheryl

  • The AREA Method research process gets its name from the perspectives that it addresses: Absolute, Relative, Exploration & Exploitation and Analysis.


    A, or Absolute, refers to the perspective of the research target. It is primary, uninfluenced information from the source itself.


    R, or Relative, refers to the perspective of outsiders around the target. It is secondary information, or information that has been filtered through sources connected to the target.


    E, or Exploration and Exploitation, are really about the human mind. Exploration is about listening to what other people think and believe. Exploitation is about listening to yourself and examining your own assumptions and judgment.


    The second A, or Analysis, synthesizes all of these perspectives, processing and interpreting the information you’ve collected.

    The AREA Method Offers:


    A straightforward easy-to-follow roadmap that covers and explains the elements of a comprehensive research process.


    A flexible and objective framework for evaluating the information encountered in the research process.


    Useful sources for collecting information that follow a logical progression and stress agility, originality and accuracy over speed.


    Robust processes that will filter cognitive biases and allow you to recognize the incentives and judgments of others.

    Cheryl Einhorn is a media consultant, award-winning journalist covering business, economic and financial news and a long-time educator as an adjunct professor at both the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and most recently at the Columbia Business School. For more information about Cheryl and her consultancy practice, visit

    Send Cheryl a message.