The assignment has two general parts.
Part 1= This assignment involves the content analysis of news articles related to recent Congressional activities — you may select (1) the confirmation hearings related to Senators Hagel and Kerry, (2) the investigation of Benghazi with Secretary Clinton, (3) the hearings on gun control, or (4) immigration reform proposals. You are going to compare the content of two newspapers on a single issue for a single day. You are to select either the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times for Sunday, February 10th, Sunday, February 3rd or Sunday, January 27th. A good choice for your second newspaper is the largest daily in your community – the Arizona Republic, if you are in or near Phoenix, for example. Both of the newspapers you use must be for the same date.
You are to select and read every news article related to the topic you are studying in both newspapers. You will conduct a thematic content analysis of each article. You must create a set of coding categories that will work across all of the articles; you should consider whether the article is positive or negative (about a nominee, the actions of the State Department, federal fire arms policy), if it is policy oriented, if it is trying to convey a position or information (intention).
Readings: Textbook: Political Science Research Methods, 7th Edition by J. Buttolph-Johnson and H.T.Reynolds See this link for ideas on content analysis: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=61 and http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/sommerb/sommerdemo/content/intro.htm
A theme captures something important about the data in relation to the research question, and represents some level of patterned response or meaning within the data set. An important question to address in terms of coding is what counts as a pattern/theme, or what ‘size’ does a theme need to be? The first time you read the articles you may generate a long list of “themes” and then you should take time to pare that list down to a more manageable number. Think about ways that you may combine codes to identify bigger (or more general) themes. Sometimes you will find that you need to break a theme into two themes to reflect the data. You want a set of themes that accurately reflects the material.
Be sure to define your coding rules so that measures are valid and reliable; include a description of your coding rules in your paper. When you write your rules, ask yourself: Is it easy to follow this rule? Does it capture all statements? You may need to refine your rules as you work through the assignment. Do not make your themes too grand – do not ask them to cover too much or too little; try to limit the number of themes that you use.
Once you have completed the analysis of the articles, write a description of your findings that includes a comparison of the articles across the newspapers. Your paper should be about 4 pages long (2 pages for Part one and 2 pages for part 2) double spaced, with a font size of 12 with Times New Roman, and default margins).
2. This assignment asks that you consider recent campaign season, either state-wide or national (U.S. Senate, governor, president). Your assignment is to construct an unobtrusive measure of attitudes toward a candidate based on an irrelevant criterion (e.g. gender, religion, etc.). Explain why you selected the (a) election/candidate, (b) criterion, and (c) indicator. Precisely how would you use your indicator to predict the outcome of an election . Why do you think this is a good, reliable, valid indicator? This portion of the assignment will likely take 2 pages to complete. Before you tackle this project, you might want to review the unobtrusive measure example http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/how-racist-are-we-ask-google/?smid=pl-share
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