Analyzing Media Messages: Using Quantitative Content Analysis in Research

Analyzing Media Messages: Using Quantitative Content Analysis in Research

Analyzing Media Messages: Using Quantitative Content Analysis in Research

Analyzing Media Messages: Using Quantitative Content Analysis in Research

Synopsis

This is the first complete text on quantitative content analysis since Krippendorf's Content Analysis (1981). Analyzing Media Messages incorporates content analysis research since 1981, including a series of sampling studies conducted by the authors. As it has evolved, the field of communication research has seen a variety of theoretical perspectives that influence how scholars define research questions and the methods they use to answer those questions. The focus of their research has often been communication content. Scholars have examined content because it is often assumed to be the cause of particular effects, and because it reflects the antecedent context or process of its production. Content analysis has been used in mass communication and in other fields to describe content and to test theory-derived hypotheses. The variety of applications may be limited only by the analyst's imagination, theory, and resources, as is shown in examples throughout this book.

Rich with examples of recent and classic applications, this volume is designed to serve as a primer in the technique of systematic, quantitative analysis of communication content. It explains solutions to practical problems confronted by the content analysts, and also examines the role of computers in content analysis. The text is written so that students can readily understand and apply this method.

Excerpt

We have conducted or supervised hundreds of quantitative content analyses in our combined 60+ years as researchers, examining content ranging from White House coverage to portrayal of women and minorities in advertising aimed at children, to environmental reporting and controversial issues in local news. The content analyses have included theses and dissertations, class projects, and funded studies, and have involved content from sources as varied as newspapers, magazines, broadcast media, and WorldWideWeb sites. Some of the projects have been descriptive, whereas others have tested directional hypotheses or sought answers to specific research questions. Our inquiries have been framed in theory about processes that affect content, and about the effects of content.

If conducting or supervising those content analyses has taught us anything, it is that some problems or issues are common to virtually all quantitative content analyses. Designing a study raises questions about sample size and technique, about measurement and reliability, and about data analysis that need resolving. These are fundamental questions that must be addressed, whether the researcher is a student conducting her first content analysis or a veteran planning her twentieth, whether the content being studied is words or images, whether it comes from an online source or a traditional source like a newspaper, and whether the focus is news or entertainment or advertising.

In preparing this book, we have tried to address these recurring questions that content analysts must address. Our goal was to make content analysis accessible, not arcane, and to produce a comprehensive guide that is also comprehensible. We hoped to accomplish the latter through clear, concrete language, and by providing numerous examples--of recent and "classic" studies--to illustrate problems and solutions. We see the book as a primary . . .

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