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CMST 4N03 News Analysis

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Philip Savage

Email: savagep@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23466


Office Hours: Thurs 0930-1130

Course Objectives:

The goal of this course is to imagine, to think, to research and to make news for the 21st century.  Participants will be asked to:

  1. Imagine: envision a transformed news environment serving a range of audience needs and desires;
  2. Think: critically reflect upon key content, forms, institutions and structures of news and how they are represented in different communication environments;
  3. Research: On the basis of a literature review of particular news topics, forms and institutions, develop a content analysis that provides insights around news coverage in a particular context;
  4. Make:  Share the insights around news content, forms and institutions with other students (in presentations and debates); develop a research paper on the basis of content analysis of news; and share the key leanings from a content analysis in a journalistic form, e.g. the OpEd.

You should gain from the course:

  • Analytical skills to read complex news texts from a range of perspectives;
  • Ability to integrate content analytic research into written work and presentations; and,
  • Apply specific content analysis tools and insights in contemporary news and journalism debates.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Krippendorff, Klaus.  Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology, Third Edition (Thousand Oaks,CA:  Sage, 2013).


Other on-line or on-reserve material.


Other than the main text (price set by bookstore; used versions may be available at a lower cost); there are no material or other fees.

Method of Assessment:




In-class Quizzes on Readings


Thur. in weeks 2-8

(Best 5 of 7 test-scores)


Presentations of Readings



As scheduled in class



Debates on Key Issues & Positions



As scheduled in class              (Sept-Oct.)

Literature Review


Thur. Oct. 27

Coding Manual and Pilot Test


Thur. Nov. 3

Content Analysis Research Paper



Thur. Nov. 24

Content Analysis OpEd


Thur. December 1

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Submission of Assignments: All assignments must be personally submitted at the beginning of class on the date it is due.  Do not drop off assignments in the CMST office (it will be considered late unless handed in to me in class).  If you submit an assignment late you may only do so in the next scheduled class.


Late Assignment Policy: Late assignments will be penalized 10% per late class.  Extensions will be given only for documented medical reasons, and must be discussed before due date.


Hard Copies/Back-ups: All assigned work must be submitted on paper, not mailed electronically (with exception of the on-line forum). Always maintain electronic or other back-up copies of whatever you submit.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:






Sept 8


“Imagine” News

a. Why imagine news?

b. Choose a source

c. Evaluate “your” news

d. Think/Research/Do:   Content Analysis


Bryman et al. (2012) “Content Analysis” pp. 291-309


Neuendorff, K.A. (2002).  “Defining Content Analysis” pp. 1-26.


Savage, P. and Marinelli, S. (2011) “Sticking to their Knitting:  A content analysis of gender in Canadian newspaper op-eds”. Journal of Professional Communication 1(1): 169-183, 2011.


Sept 15


“Think” News

a. A history of print news

b. Thinking about others making news: Institutions & Forms

c. Writing the news: formats

d. Analysis of news content: history, concepts, guides.



 [Quiz #1]

Hirst, P. et. al. Communication and New Media: From Broadcast to Narrowcast, “From Gutenberg to Global News” pp. 68-95. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2014.


Bender, J. et al (2011).  Reporting for the Media. “Journalism Today” pp. 1-6 and “The Body of a News Story” pp.116-141.


Krippendorff 1. “History”

Krippendorff 2. “Conceptual Foundation”

Krippendorff 14. “A Practical Guide”


Sept 22


Citizen Journalism &

The “New” News


(Guest Lecture)


[Quiz #2]

Hirst, P.  et. al. (2014). Communication and New Media: From Broadcast to Narrowcast, “Who’s a Journalist Now?” pp. 237-263. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2014.


Krippendorff 3. “Uses and Interfaces”

Krippendorff 4. “The Logic of Content AnalysisGuest


 Sept 29


“Think” News Effects















[Quiz #3]

Lazarsfeld, P. et al.  “The People’s Choice” in Brooker, Will, & Jermyn, Deborah, eds. The Audience Studies Reader.  London: Routledge, 2003. pp. 13-18.


Merton, R. “Mass Persuasion” in Brooker, Will, & Jermyn, Deborah, eds. The Audience Studies Reader.  London: Routledge, 2003. pp. 19-26


O’Neill, B. “Media Effects in Context” in Nightingale, V. The Handbook of Media Audiences. London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2011. pp. 320-339.


Neuendorff, K.A. (2002) “Milestones in the History of Content Analysis”  pp. 27-46


Krippendorff 5. “Unitizing”

Krippendorff 6. “Sampling”


Oct 6

“Think” Agenda-Setting




















[Quiz #4]

McCombs, M. E. & Shaw, D. L. (1972).  The agenda-setting function of the mass media.  Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, 176-85.


Iyengar, S., & Simon, A. F. (1993). News coverage of the Gulf crisis and public-opinion: A study of agenda-setting, priming, and framing. Communication Research, 20, 365–383.


Hackett, R., Gilsdorf, W., & Savage, P. (1992). News Balance Rhetoric: The Fraser Institute's Political Appropriation of Content Analysis. Canadian Journal Of Communication, 17(1). Retrieved from http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/646/552


Hackett, R.  (2000).  The Missing News: Filters and blind spots in Canada’s press. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Alternative Studies.  Chapter 3:  “Journalists’ views of the media” pp. 77-98


Krippendorff 7. “Recording/Coding”

Krippendorff 8. “Data Languages”


Oct 10-14   *** Break***


Oct 20


- More (recent) Agenda-Setting


“Research” prep:

-Literature Review

-Research Proposal












[Quiz #5]

Soroka, S. (2002). Issue attributes and agenda-setting by media, the public and policymakers in Canada. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 14, 264-285.


Takeshita, T. (2005).  Current critical problems in agenda-setting research.  International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 18, 275-296.


Solomon, Norman (2005).  War Made Easy, “Prologue” 1-26. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.


Scheufele, D., & Tewksbury, D. (2007). Framing, Agenda Setting, and Priming: The Evolution of Three Media Effects Models.  Journal of Communication, 57, 9-20.


Krippendorff 9. “Analytical Constructs”

Krippendorff 10. “Representational Techniques”



Oct 27

 “Think” The new politics and economics of news




“Research” Prep:

-Coding Form

-Coding Manual

-Pilot Testing


[Quiz #6]


[Lit Review Due]


Raboy, M (2010) “Media” in Raboy M and Sthern, J. Media Divides. Vancouver: UBC Press. pp. 91-119.


Shade, L. and Lithgow (2014), M.  “Media Owndership, Public Participation, and Democracy in Canada” Mediascapes. pp. 174-203


Krippendorff 12. “Reliability”

Krippendorff 13. “Validity”


Nov 3

“Think” The new media




[Quiz #7]


[Coding Manual/Test Due]

Green, J and Jenkins, H. “Spreadable Media” in Nightingale, V. The Handbook of Media Audiences (London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2011), pp. 109-127


Werbin, K (2014)“Social Media Commodification, and Surveillance”. Mediascapes, pp. 258-277.


Krippendorff 11. “Computer Aids”


Nov 10




Feedback on students’     (#1-11) pilot analysis




Nov 17



Feedback on students’  (#12-22) pilot analysis




Nov 24

“Think” current news studies


“Make” an OpEd on your research.
















[Research Paper Due]


Angeline Gautami Fernando, L. Suganthi & Bharadhwaj Sivakumaran (2014) If You Blog, Will They Follow? Using Online Media to Set the Agenda for Consumer Concerns on “Greenwashed” Environmental Claims, Journal of Advertising, 43:2, 167-180,  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00913367.2013.841088


Anita Breuer, Todd Landman & Dorothea Farquhar (2014): Social media and protest mobilization: evidence from the Tunisian revolution, Democratization, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2014.885505


Political News Journalists in Social Media, Journalism Practice, 8:6, 688-703, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2013.865965


Oscar Westlund (2013) Mobile News, Digital Journalism, 1:1, 6-26 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2012.740273


Dec 1

[OpEd Due.]