Why do journalists appear to fit news events into simple paths – even before those events have happened? Why do we commemorate so many events today – even if, like the Iraq war, those events haven’t even finished? How do we discern the role of media in forming memories of events? And when analysing media texts, if the meaning of words and images are always context-dependent, how can we possibly know the context of communications in today’s complex interplay of ‘new’ and ‘old’ media? If we’re tracing the movement and adaptation of political ideologies and discourses online, anywhere in the world, we can’t possibly know the social setting of those participating – can we? Researchers attending the media analysis workshop hosted by the NPCU this week examined three major research projects that wrestle with these challenges (see post below for details).
Participants also discussed the pros and cons of various software for media analysis, such as Transana, Touchgraph, IssueCrawler and HyperRESEARCH. It seems some or all of these will be used by participants in subsequent projects in the coming year, but nobody felt these packages were wholly adequate. Researching political communication today appears to involve a lot of muddling by, as the ‘object’ of analysis – the intersection of media and political relations – appears in a state of permanent revolution.