Posts Tagged ‘research’

Monday evening we looked at how to conduct interviews. Mostly the facts were self-evident but there were important tidbits of advice that may come in handy for the future.



Question 1 – Why do we do interviews?

We want quotes.

Question 2 – Why do we need quotes?

Provide fact in thenewsmakers own words

To absolve the journalist from an endorsement

Asking questions

– Research before you interview

You’ve never got enough time to do interviews. You’ll only have 10 minutes with them so you will need to know everything about them or what they are promoting.

 – Ask questions with a focus

People will measure you and what you know by the way that you ask a question, if you ask a question that’s very general and simplistic, they will give you a simple answer, because they often have to deal with non-specialists who don’t know what they’re talking about.

 – Think about the answer before you ask the question

You should already know the answer, you can think about what you were expecting to here and what you did here.

Different types of questions

Closed questions/Open questions – usually better for an extended interview

Off the record (OTR) – don’t tell anyone it was me that said this

The interviewee must specifically say that something is off the record before they say it.

Chatham House rules – you may report information but not identify the speaker, like reporting what was said at a meeting but not who was there.

Using quotes

People talk about different things at different times on the same theme, arrange the quotes in such a way that it reads like a story.

As long as you don’t change the meaning of what’s being said you can make minor tweaks

Quote exclusive content, there’s no point quoting stuff that’s everywhere else.

Paraphrase what he said in to one sentence/Use direct quotes as full sentences/quote important words like someone thinking its “dangerous”.

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Monday’s morning lecture with new lecturer Mercy, may have just added another element to my final research project. The lectures were about various research methods you can use to write papers and articles. The first was discourse.


Discourse was described as a particular way of talking and understanding the world, through use of language. For example; legal discourse is the way you speak in the courtroom. There will be no use of slang and everyone will speak with respect and dignity to the judge and jury.

There is also a form of media discourse when writing certain headlines that are likely to sell the paper. Sensationalist stories take on a different light when this media discourse is implicated. There are certain words that will be more shocking or appealing; if there is a story of a mother who killed a baby, they are more likely to use the word ‘mother’ rather than mum as it is a more nurturing description.

There are a number of different approaches to how you view discourse but the three main one are what is known as ‘Formalist’, ‘Functionalist’ and ‘Foucauldian’.

A number of famous academics in the area of Discourse Analysis is Van Dijk, Meyer and Weiss. They study what people do with text and talk and what they mean with regards to certain words or in the way or situation it is written  in.

Wodak and Meyer look at things that are obvious and not so obvious in powerful language.


Discourse Analysis

Analysis of what people do with text and talk – Wodak, Meyer, Weiss

Assuming language exists in a disalogue with Society.

Bloors & Bloors say studying texts must be aware of the contextualisation of which the communication took place – like issues in gender across a number of publications like Woman’s Weekly or FHM. Both magazines will talk about women in different way and use completely different language to one another.

Critical discourse analysis roots in critical linguistic analysis and semiotics.



Academic analysis of media texts is vastly different from everyday media analysis perhaps in newspapers or speech.

It’s important to look at materials, even in free democratic countries, published either by political campaigns or newspapers who support the government in power they will often say that “the people have spoken” to convince the rest of the country that the elections were won and this is the guy that was voted in, so everyone must support him.

Common approaches of analysis

       Structuralist semiotics

       Concept analysis

       Discourse analysis


       Rhetorical Analysis

       Ideological approach

       Typological approach

Semiotics was founded by a Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure and it’s to do with the interpretation of signs, not just road signs, but visual everyday signs. For example when I say table you think table. If you see a chair you think that means chair. Everyday signs are made up of signs and images, they are more commonly known as signifiers, or as a concept it is known as signifieds. It is important to note that signs can be used to lie, like if a woman had dark hair but was wearing a blond wig.

There are three different orders to signs:

First order – actual objects: man/woman

Second order – associations; maternal, boobs

Third order – social consensus: legitimising a stereotype – woman moaning

Academics will use a wide range of words to signs and their signifiers

Signs                                    Signifier

Denotation                        Connotation

Literal                                Figurative

Signifier                             Signified

Evident                               Inferred

Describes                           Suggests meaning


Denotation – Big Mac is a sandwich by macdonalds – its something real, often physical.

Connotation – is what the real thing represents, in the Big Mac case, it largely is representative of American culture: fast food, things that are big.

Related concepts



Metonymy – communication by associateion – Rolex is expensive.

Synedoche – White House might be used for US President “White house has released this statement”. The house doesn’t talk but it speaks on behalf of the President.

Intertextuality – Shows how texts borrow from each other

Codes – Culture is a code, to decode it you must understand the behaviour of the people.

Criticisms of semiotics

By checking the technicalities of the language used you ignore how good the article is.

Content analysis is objective whereas semiotics is subjective.

You can code the length of articles, subject matter, read-ability, internal structure, listen-ability, favourability, quotes vs paraphrasing, vigour, balance, location on the page.

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The MA Journalism Project provides you with an opportunity to create an original and intellectually critical extended writing. You are expected to produce a dissertation of 12-15,000 words or an appropriate project in print/broadcast/online format or other acceptable platforms together with a shorter dissertation, on a topic relevant to your specialist interest and mutually agreed with course staff. The topic should be worthy of sustained in-depth inquiry. Both types of dissertation should take the form of a properly academically written and referenced piece of work following accepted conventions.


This description is intended to engage and excite an MA Journalist student into the final project of the year. We discussed this at great length with Fred and Andrew today and it opened and closed many avenues not previously thought of.

The idea that had been floating around my brain for a few weeks was looking at journalistic training over three very different countries with the aim to discover the best journalistic practice and who teaches their journalists best.

I began explaining my idea and shortly was interrupted by my lecturers explaining that this task would be tough and I would have to simplify the whole thing. Each country’s definition of journalism is different. Journalists perform different roles in different places around the world; some inform, others direct or manage, it can even protest and demonstrate. So ultimately good journalism would be determined on how well each country adheres to its law and purpose.

I would have to essentially look at what journalism actually is in each country, but I imagine this idea has been done to death.

I then thought of my secondary idea that came up during the preparation of my M40MC essay. Here is my written proposal:

How does a dramatic, culture-changing event affect media policy and the role of journalists?

My intention is to view three countries with differing cultural heritage and examine how the aftermath of each event causes change in national policy. I will also investigate the changes in journalistic practice.

To do this I intend to analyse a national newspaper with the highest rate of circulation from three countries; The United States of America, The Czech Republic and [arab league country after arab spring]. This analysis will include measuring the volume of news stories – both local and national, international content, cultural reporting and framing of political news stories.

I also intend to interview a reporter from each of the national newspapers who has worked both before and after the traumatic event. This will provide a level of first-hand qualitative research that will have not been featured in previous texts.

By combining both the qualitative and quantitative research, I will then be able to answer how an event with a global impact changes views and policy in the media. This will ultimately become the definition of ‘Post-Traumatic Journalism’.


I think this is ultimately what the Final Research Project will be so I have opened up a new Category under ‘My Course’ titled Final Project Journal.

When I research anything, or contact anyone regarding my Final Research Project I will update it in this. It may not be that often quite yet, but hopefully a little bit every once in a while over the next few months will mean I’m on top of things when next summer arrives.

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