Alicia Simmons, Associate Professor of Sociology, needs two student research assistants for her project “News Framing of Police Killings of Unarmed Blacks.” This study is concerned with how the mainstream news media has framed the issues and events surrounding deaths of unarmed blacks at the hands of police. Framing is a process of selecting some aspects of reality and making them salient, while directing attention away other aspects; this process has implications for audience members’ understanding of and opinions about the world. To assess how the news frames these events, this project uses the content analysis methodology, which entails systematically analyzing message characteristics. Research assistants will complete three primary tasks. First, they will learn how to use MAXQDA, a software package used to conduct content analyses. Second, they will learn how to analyze the news articles to detect the presence of frames and other variables of interest. During this stage, research assistants will offer valuable insight shaping the decision rules determining the presence of frames, and might suggest new variables to be included in the analysis. Third, they will analyze a corpus of news articles, creating a dataset cataloguing the articles’ characteristics.
High attention to detail, strong teamwork skills, and intermediate knowledge about social science research processes are necessary. Such knowledge might be gained through successful completion of a 200-level research methods course. Previous experience with content analysis methods and/or MAXQDA software is desirable, but not required.