Spreading Misinformation


Purpose: to demonstrate understanding and practical application of Content Analysis research

Task: to design, conduct, and present (written form) original research using Content Analysis as the research method

Criteria: make sure to do an original content analysis as per chapter and provided material, present as per assignment requirements- using visual representation (per statistics chapter)

Evaluation: will be based on completion, quality/thoroughness of study and report, meeting due date

Breakdown: You will design and conduct a Content Analysis with a Speech Comm focus.

Please refer to book chapter, class notes PPT, and iCollege content including examples, videos, and overview for this assignment.

Begin with a topic and hypothesis

Have a paragraph (or so) explaining what you’re doing and answering the “so what” question

Have operational definitions

Decide on samples and unit of analysis- what they are and how many (justify)

Explain categories if applicable

Present findings in numerical form

Analyze with at least a paragraph- include why this is important and possible future research

Texts for Content Analysis can include speeches, conversations, newspaper articles or headlines, journal articles, magazine articles, interviews (print or broadcast), stand up comedy routines, movies, historical documents, advertisements, plays/shows, song lyrics, concert productions, books (or parts of books), essays, discussions or lectures, conversations, video games, informal conversation, texts, tweets, or posts, cartoon strips (typically any occurrence of communicative language- verbal, nonverbal, etc).

So that is massively broad. Examples of ways to narrow down:

By type of text (headlines for newspaper articles or only the magazine covers or childrens books)

By topic (tweets w/ a certain hashtag)

By time frame

By geographic area

By audience (only convos between x person and y person)

By speaker (only what a certain character says or does)

It is your job to justify those choices- everything has to be done with a purpose.

Other ways to think about purpose and approach:

Stereotyping in the media: Gender roles, gender representations, Sexuality representations…

Normalization of behavior: Violence, guns, alcohol, dress…

Representations of trends: language trends, fashion trends, product trends

In a more specific way, some examples might be:

Mention of “God” in awards shows thank yous comparison from now to 10 or 20 years ago- or from one award show to another- how many times does God get first mention?

Reference to alcohol in music: can specify –

  1. beer & country music
  2. name brands in rap
  3. getting “drunk” in pop music

Jokes about obesity in a particular sit com

Jokes about an issue in Late Night tv

How many times someone is blown-up in the trailer of a video game; perhaps coded by how much damage, inflicted by accident (roadside bomb) as opposed to shot by player

References to locker room “culture” when NFL journalists talk about/justify/excuse bullying

Comparison between use of the terms global warming and climate change

Or words like “upcycle”

References to “cost saving meals” on the food channel- historical (now vs 5 years ago) or from show to show

Or, reference to story telling when discussing cooking- or use of literary terms to analyze food

Trends in job ads online and what requirements are popular, or what buzz words are trending

You can use visual as well- so verbal or nonverbal

*So when I say: brainstorm for ideas – start with your major and your interests, you should come up with a list like that.

Print ads in magazines might be coded by size- full page vs ¼ page, color vs black and white

SO, a full page ad might count as 1, and a half page ad as ½.

Do you give the same “count” or score to a color ad as a black and white one?

Is it easier to give a full page ad a 4 and a ¼ page ad a 1?

Those are decisions you need to make.


Research Question/Hypothesis

Choose texts you’ll be analyzing

Define catagories/units

Develop coding rules

“Count” (chart)

Analyze results (graph)

Draw conclusions

What you submit can be as simple as:

Intro paragraph

Body: explaining what you did, what you analyzed, chart, graph


(meaning 2 pages max w/visual representations, depending on your research design)

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