Project Overview

News Framing of Police Killings of Unarmed Blacks

Faculty Sponsor

Alicia Simmons (


Sociology and Anthropology


Alicia Simmons, Assistant 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 may suggest new variables to be included in the analysis.  Third, they will analyze a database of news articles, creating a dataset cataloguing the articles’ characteristics.  

Student Qualifications

Students should have a level of English literacy that allows them to comprehend news stories, basic computer skills, and a high attention to detail.  Students should have basic knowledge about social science research; this familiarity can be gained through successful completion of a course such as SOCI 250: Social Research Design/Methods.  Previous experience with content analysis and MAXQDA software is helpful, but not necessary; this experience can be gained through successful completion of a course such as SOCI/GEOG 251AX: Media Frame and Content Analysis.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/05/2018 and close on 02/05/2018

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (