Content Analysis (Media Studies)

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  • A systematic means of understanding, categorizing, or describing a message's content. It differs from the interviews or questionnaires used in survey research in that a content analyst, rather than generating his or her own data, investigates the texts of existing documents, broadly defined, to reach conclusions about the thinking, methods, or objectives of the people or organizations that created those documents.

    The work of a content analyst typically begins with identifying a question to be answered or a hypothesis to be tested. He or she then defines the characteristics of the data to be investigated, often including the time frame, geographic area, and type of document (e.g., action movies, newspaper editorials, political advertisements, rap lyrics) that will be analyzed. The analyst then typically creates categories for ...

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