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Bernard Berelson A Content Analysis Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 1524 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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According to Bernard Berelson, Content Analysis refers to a research technique for the objective, systematic and quantitative description of clear content of communication (Berelson, 1952). It is a research instrument that is focused on the actual content and internal features of media. Content Analysis is used to establish the presence of certain words, themes, concepts, characters, phrases or sentences within a given text. It enumerates this presence in an objective manner. This text include books, essays, interviews, discussions, newspapers headlines and articles, conversations, speeches, or even historical documents. In order for you to conduct a content analysis on a text, you need to code or break down the text into manageable classes on different levels and then examine them. The outcomes of the analysis are then used to make conclusions on the messages within the texts, the audience and writers. For example when analyzing a text, you will be able to point out significant features such as the purpose of the coverage, discrimination, biases and mistakes made by the authors or publishers (Carney, 1972).

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Owing to the fact that it can be used to examine any given piece of writing or happening of recorded communication, content analysis is widely used in marketing, literature analysis, media studies, cultural studies and many more areas. Content analysis has different uses. It is used to detect the presence of propaganda in any given communication (Weber 1990). For example when a presidential candidate is giving his campaign speech, he may say some words that are not true about his rivals so as to win the hearts of the people while on the other hand, misleading the people and hiding the truth from them. This study also helps analyze how media treat different issues like political and social. Sometimes the media is bias in presenting social issues. It focuses more on the political issues while only highlighting on social issues (Carney, 1972). This tells you where the media interest lays

It may also be used to reveal the differences in the content of international communication (Weber 1990). For example the current issue that is of international interest is the global warming issue. Different countries communicate this issue in a different way. Some countries like the African countries blame the developed countries for the pandemic while the developed countries are of different view. If you carry out the content analysis of such headline you may be able to establish the point of conflict in the presentation. You will also be able to note the frequently used words and symbols that may generate a meaning with time. This factor is also used by the media in the agenda setting process (Carney, 1972). The media decide what issue is important and should be given emphasis, after they have done a content analysis.

You can also use content analysis to show the attitude and behavior that people display in response to a given communication (Carney, 1972). By studying people’s reaction or comments on a given issue, you will be able to tell whether they are pleased with what they are hearing, seeing or reading. Most medium ask people to give their comments on a given contemporary issue. With newspaper we have the opinion columns. After the public has given its comment, the medium takes time to analyze the issue and from there they take the next step and address the issue. If it is in regard to a given issue that concerns a given company, institution or individual, the information is given to them for an action to be taken.

It also helps in making out the intention, focus or the trends in communication of a group, institution or individual. When carrying out content analysis, you will be able to tell the aim of a given communication (Weber 1990). For example having a conversation or an interview with someone, you can make out the hidden information. If you ask someone something as he is taking water for example and he choke on the drink, you are likely to think that he did not expect such a question, maybe because he is shocked that you know about it or he did not know about it. This is not enough to make a conclusion since there are several assumptions. You will be in a position to make a good judgment as the speech continues. The media adopts this use and carry out investigation reports in relation to issues that are of hidden agenda. Before presenting these issues they analyze the result, and then come up with a conclusion.

Content analysis can also be used to establish the emotional or psychological state of an individual or group (Carney, 1972). Most of the time, we are driven by our emotions or thoughts to talk in a give way. For example if you read a letter from someone who is angry, the anger will be manifested in the content of the letter and the language used. How the media treat and handle news stories from a given individual or group, will indicate what their attitude towards this individual or group. For example on the gay issue which is still unacceptable in some given countries, you will find the media depicting them as outcasts in the society. When we carry out this study we do it to determine the attitude of the media towards given individuals and groups in the society. The media helps in a great way to shape peoples views, and how people interpret issues is mostly dependent on how the media presents it.

We have two general categories of content analysis: conceptual and rational analysis. This helps establish how to carry out a content analysis (Budd, 1967). Conceptual analysis is where you establish the existence and how often concepts are used in a text. In conceptual analysis a term in selected and examined and the number of times it appears in the text recorded. Since terms may be used implicitly as well as explicitly, it is important to establish the meaning of these terms before beginning the counting process. Conceptual analysis begins by recognizing research questions and choosing samples. Once you have chosen the samples, you proceed to break down the content into manageable categories. This process of breaking down the content is done by ‘removing some words while keeping the meaning of the content. Breaking down the content into meaningful and potential unit of information, you will be able to interpret and analyze certain characters of the message (Weber 1990). For example you may choose a text and decide to examine the number of positive words used in the argument as opposed to the number of negative words. Here you will only be interested in how many times the words occur and not what is their relation. You mainly focus on the words in relation to your research question to see whether there is a strong presence of the positive or negative words used to present a specific argument.

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The second category is the rational analysis. It builds on conceptual analysis by examining the relationships among concepts in a given text. It is important to first decide which concept types will be looked at in the analysis (Budd, 1967). Using too many categories interfere with your results and using too few categories may lead to invalid conclusions. It is therefore important of allow the context and necessities of your research to guide your coding procedure. Relational analysis is popular because of the many techniques it has. You can device your own procedure based on the nature of your project. The relational analysis is time consuming but it maintains a high degree of statistical thoroughness without losing the meaning of the detail.

It is important to use content analysis as it looks directly at communication through text or record, hence helps get a central aspect of social relations (Carney, 1972). It can also provide important historical and cultural insights over time through analyzing the texts. Content analysis allow for quantitative and qualitative procedures. It provides insight into human complex thought and language use. When done well, it can be a precise research method. It also allows statistical closeness to text that can alternate between specific categories and relationship.

Content analysis also has some disadvantages. It can be extremely time consuming. It is a subject to errors, particularly when you use rational analysis is used (Budd, 1967). It can be difficult to computerize information you have achieved at the end of the research. It has the tendency of ignoring the context that produces the text as well as the state of things after the text is produced. It is often reductive when dealing with complex text. This means that some information may not be analyzed (Carney, 1972).

In conclusion content analysis is applicable in the media when determining the news worthiness of a story. It is also important when undertaking the process of agenda setting in the media house. Most media adapt content analysis for the purpose of weekly review of different issues it has covered over the week. It can therefore be said to be an important aspect in media management.


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