Posted by: Mike Plett | April 17, 2014

Framing analysis and framing effects

In discussing framing analysis, it may be useful to consider French sociologist Greimas’ scheme of semiotic narrative analysis from which he was able to distill “primordial structural relations” — dichotomies such as sender vs. receiver — from texts (Peräkylä, 2011). As strategic communicators, I think it’s important for us to remember that senders (e.g. journalists) are not the only ones to work with frames; audiences utilize frames too.

From the reading Steven and I did in preparation for tonight’s presentation, it appears much current framing research assumes individual journalists and individual audience members have a large degree of autonomy and agency in their news production and consumption.  A critique of current framing research suggests that things are much more complex: The frames journalists employ are often the products of professional and organizational processes in the newsroom, whereas audience frames are based on a collective process of negotiation over the meaning of news frames rather than individual exposure to them (Vliegenthart and van Zoonen, 2011).

The current approach to the study of the effects of news frames doesn’t do justice to the interactive and social nature of interpreting politics or to our active multimedia culture. How can researchers do a better job of studying such effects? Do you think it’s acceptable to conduct a framing analysis without studying the effects, or would any such study be incomplete?

Posted by: kgaboury | April 17, 2014

The Human Element – Kevin Gaboury

When it comes to procuring qualitative data, I believe there is nothing more powerful than the face-to-face interview. In “Analyzing Talk and Text,” the author highlighted an interview with British playwright Dennis Potter. Potter, terminally ill with cancer, spoke about his imminent death and the creativity that arose from it. This piqued my curiosity, so I looked it up:

The result is a moving portrait of a man who is fully aware he’s going to die, but instead of falling into despondence, he reflects on life, his identity as an Englishman, politics, and the press with humor and clarity. As a researcher, talking to people can yield the most powerful and telling data, especially if you ask the right questions. One thing I’m curious about is how interviews done for research differ from journalistic interviews. While working as a journalist and writing profile or human-interest pieces, I sometimes felt like I was just looking for the best “sound bytes” (quotes) while barely scratching the surface of who a person really was. Did any of the other former journalists in the class encounter this same issue in their careers? What techniques did you use to really get someone to open up? How do you think interview questions should differ between qualitative research and journalism?


Posted by: swhee1er | April 17, 2014

What’s (in) a frame?

One of the issues Mike and I will raise in today’s presentation seems at first to be quite elementary: What constitutes a frame? Despite repeated calls by researchers for more methodological rigor in framing analysis, a consistent schema for categorizing frames continues to elude them. For example, some analyses merely use structural frames, like economic consequences, or content frames, like ethno-nationalism, as the basis for their findings.[1] In Images of China, Li employs these frames too, but she uses “syntactical, script and rhetorical” (2012, p. 178) structures as well. Other studies follow neither the simple structural approach, nor Li’s more nuanced approach, choosing instead to produce their own dedicated set of frames.

There is no denying that employing the sort of investigative “Taoism” implied by the last method has its advantages, as it allows the researcher to alter theories to fit facts, and not the reverse. Unfortunately, it is also bound to make scientists queasy, as the definition of what constitutes a frame will vary from analysis to analysis, making it less likely that the researchers are measuring the same thing. Does the strength of frame analysis lie in its current methodological flexibility, or should researchers impose a morphology or taxonomy on frames in order to better systematize the process?

[1] Koenig, T. (2006). Compounding mixed-methods problems in frame analysis through comparative research. Qualitative Research, 6(1), 61–76. doi:10.1177/1468794106058874

Posted by: graceroxasmorrissey | April 16, 2014

Minutiae matters in destination marketing

Who would have thought restaurant menus might ultimately decide where one spends one’s vacation? While I believe there are more factors to that decision than the gastronomic dimension (unless you’re a serious foodie), Baiomy et al’s study on “Menus as Marketing Tools” drives home the point that in marketing a product like a resort hotel that relies so much on the anticipation of a special and total experience, nothing is too tactical or insignificant for the marketing strategist to overlook. Everything has to “hang” together in the perception of the prospective hotel guest in terms of conveniences, like knowing in advance what manner of beast or vegetable matter is on the menu, and of intangibles like “sense of place.”

The researchers staked out a modest claim, and justifiably so. They can take this research in a far more fruitful direction not only by studying the reactions of the guests to the menu (as they apparently intend to do) but by studying online menus (or the lack of it) in relation to online customer reviews. Will it ultimately matter if a restaurant does a great job of publishing its menu if the restaurant gets only a two-star rating in Yelp?

The dichotomy might even open the restaurant to criticisms of false advertising, especially when there are sensory / affective words used. While a menu might truly serve as a restaurant’s “signature,” there might be more dynamics to consider when it goes online.

Posted by: Natalie Henry Bennon | April 16, 2014

Qualitative Content Analysis

The Li reading, Images of China, considered very specific news shows through the propaganda model, and hegemony theory. This approach automatically leans the researcher toward looking for propaganda and hegemony. But I think it’s one of several important lenses to use in analyzing news media because the media are made up people, and as such they are reflections and extensions of a country’s broader culture, systems, and ideology. Journalists do make assumptions, as much as they try not to. They are human. Moreover, they operate with Australia’s media system, which operates in a capitalist system, which, of course, is bent on self-perpetuation. Propoganda supporting the capitalist model is an unfortunate reality of the system.

Li laid out three very specific research questions. She determined exactly which years of episodes she had access to and would analyze. And she employed a “qualitative content analysis,” according to the paper. Is this its own kind of analysis, or does this fall under one of the kinds described in the Perakyla reading, Analyzing Talk and Text? I am guessing it would fall under some type of Discourse Analysis, as described by Perakyla. Although, one might argue that it was a Membership Categorization Analysis, based on communist versus capitalist, or Chinese versus Australian.

What kind of analysis described in the Perakyla reading do you think Li was employing? Or maybe Li employed none of them?

Posted by: lindseynewkirk | April 16, 2014

Manipulating The Masses

The power that the media has in influencing populations based on message framing and presentation patterns as highlighted in Images of China (Li, 2012) reminds me of George W. Bush’s and the media’s messages to America when launching the “War on Terror”. I glanced through an article I found; “Framing the Truth: U.S. Media Coverage during the War on Terror” (Wiggins, n.d.) where the author points to news media embodied the “us-versus-them” frame. Given that the framing of news stories has a massive impact on how people perceive a given issue and how they should interpret them I think the media was incredibly irresponsible in that message. The fear that they evoked through this core message severely altered people’s attitudes towards Muslims causing a ripple effect of unnecessary judgment and hate towards an otherwise peaceful population of people that had nothing to do with the small fraction of Muslim terrorists blamed for the attack.

In another article, “Does Watching the News Change our Attitudes about Political Policy: A Terrorism Case Study” (Brinson and Stohl, 2012) I found this closing remark to be quite appropriate in looking at the media’s responsibility in message framing around politics: “The media have the responsibility to not only provide “the news,” but also to ensure that they provide the public with the context and background to enable the public to evaluate the information contained within it.”

Posted by: Melissa De Lyser | April 16, 2014

Media framing/Images of China: Is the bias only in media?

After reading Images of China, I would not disagree that the Australian media is biased against China.  

But I do take exception to some of Li’s arguments.  Li writes that feature stories get softer “postcard” play than economic and/or politically focused stories.  I don’t think that’s necessarily representative of bias. “Hard” news stories are played differently than “soft” news stories in all media.  That’s more a matter of readership volume than media bias.

I also question Li’s bias.  Li writes that the Australian media framing tactics included the “reactivation of the public memory of the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.”  Li cites media framing theory, where “issues are consciously or unconsciously influenced by historical-cultural-economic-political factors.”  Is Li free from bias on this topic?  Can he objectively argue that Australian media references to China’s human rights violations are without news value? 

Li also write that the Australian media calls China a communist government with a capitalist market.  At one point, Li himself describes China as a “nominally communist state.”  Is the media’s incorporation of the communist government/capitalist economy based on bias or fact? 

 In our Orientation discussion of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal, we debated whether facts exist. We all add personal bias to our stories – whether as journalists or general conversationalists. We are storytellers, and stories contain bias. In the end, I think it comes down to a measure of degree.

Posted by: lindseynewkirk | April 10, 2014

More Than ‘Do No Evil’

It is disheartening to realize that countless publications have been developed over the past few decades to address unethical research atrocities. Questions of innate human nature aside, the guiding principals used in qualitative research are more that a set of rules for ‘doing no evil’.

Even the most well designed project has the possibility of an ethical issue arising in data collection, many of which will not be black or white. Though they don’t provide hard answers, guiding principals do ground researchers in ethical inquiry so that they can make the best decisions within specific contexts if ethical considerations do arise.

In our presentation tonight, Scott and I will take you on a journey of research ethics, including several situations of which you get to decide – What Would You Do? Here is one to contemplate:

In a study exploring people’s experiences of recovery from a heart attack, an interviewee expressed extreme feelings of worthlessness resulting from his health condition, which meant he was unable to work or to undertake activities he viewed as part of his male identity. Feeling he might be depressed and at risk, the interviewer suggested that he talked to his doctor about his feelings but he said he didn’t want to do that as all the doctor would do would be to give him more medication. He also commented that he didn’t want his wife to know or she would worry. The researcher promised confidentiality but was concerned about his mental health. Should she tell someone about him and if so, who? (Riles, 2012).

Posted by: swhee1er | April 10, 2014

Ethical questions loom large for Big Data

The unique ethical challenges posed by the internet become especially knotty when applied to the analysis of large data sets, or Big Data. Take the issue of informed consent. Instead of a “mailing list with 100 or 1000 subscribers” (Eysenbach & Till 2001, p. 2), Big Data researchers deal with subject populations many times that number. Since asking researchers to obtain consent from every user who comprises these data sets appears to be unrealistic, does that make any research conducted using Big Data ethically questionable?

Similar questions arise if one turns to the issue of harm. Given their size and diversity, accurately diagnosing the risks in researching large data pools remains a difficult task at best. Users’ comfort levels with their online activities being analyzed are bound to differ, and determining those users who find it acceptable and those who do not may prove no more viable than obtaining consent from every user involved. Even if researchers manage to resolve (or sidestep) this hurdle and anonymize the data, it has been demonstrated that it is not only possible but also relatively easy to “de-anonymize” that same data.[1] Considering the potential for injury, this last point seems especially damning, not just of studies using Big Data specifically, but also of internet studies in general.

One potential solution would be to scrub the data of all possible identifiers, which would presumably protect all subjects but also limit the data’s utility. Is this an acceptable solution, or does a better one exist?

[1] For a fascinating (and troubling) look at how easily data can be “de-anonymized”, see

Posted by: B. Scott Anderson | April 10, 2014

Ethics, research and dilemmas

Ethics — particularly research ethics — is an interesting topic for a variety of reasons, one of which is that there is a difference between research ethics and ethical research.

When it comes to these topics, things get really muddy when the internet becomes involved because there’s a sense of privacy and anonymity in particular situations. Is it possible to safeguard yourself against any unwanted online intrusions of a researcher who is looking to collect data? How can it be done? Where do children and social networking come in to play here?

These are a few questions we’ll look at Thursday in class. We’ll also be taking a look at hypothetical situations when research and ethics intersect.

Here’s one of the dilemmas we’ll present Thursday and we hope it will get you thinking about what you would do if you were different sorts of ethical research situations.


Dr. T has just discovered a mathematical error in a paper that has been accepted for publication in a journal. The error does not affect the overall results of his research, but it is potentially misleading. The journal has just gone to press, so it is too late to catch the error before it appears in print? 

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