Methods

Becoming a Critic covers critical / cultural, qualitative, and quantitative approaches to analyzing media content.

One recent example of quantitative content analysis that was widely reported in the news media was a study investigating diversity in top grossing films.  USA Today did a good job breaking down the numbers: Hispanics are grossly underrepresented in films, Whites are overrepresented, and Hispanic and Latino women are more likely to be shown fully or partially naked.  Researchers discover these trends using quantitative content analytic methods that involve creating a coding sheet, training coders, coding a massive amount of content, then running statistics to identify trends.

This process, of course, stands in stark contrast to critical and qualitative methods, which are interpretive.  One interesting application of qualitative and critical approaches to content was discussed on NPR’s Weekend Edition, when they addressed the changing distinctions between genres at the 2014 Emmy Awards.  Critical and interpretive approaches allow us to consider distinctions that aren’t always clear-cut and quantifiable, such as the difference between a “comedy” and a “drama.”

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