We are kicking off a three-month focus on data analysis, starting with Analyzing Words, Pictures, and Numbers in July. This month we will have the opportunity to learn new ideas and practical skills from Mentors in Residence Stephen Gorard, Jean Breny, and Shannon McMorrow. Find the unfolding series through this link.
How can you analyze and interpret media?
Anyone who owns a smartphone has a video camera in their pocket. We can easily share digital pictures or media with friends and family, or the world of social media. We’ve seen dramatic examples where video footage captured on the scene of a crime, natural disaster, or event has reverberated through the news and public discourse. With video documentation becoming the norm, researchers have many opportunities to collect data in various media forms. Then what? This collection of open-access articles includes quantitative examples of analysis for video data. Other posts offer qualitative examples of video analysis.
Quantitative Analysis of Video Data
Cowart, H. S., Saunders, L. M., & Blackstone, G. E. (2016). Picture a Protest: Analyzing Media Images Tweeted From Ferguson. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116674029
Abstract. This content analysis examines media depiction of events in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer. Using images from the Twitter feeds of nine major media outlets in the month following the shooting, it identifies themes present in those images. Descriptive statistics reveal differences in the roles of people who appear to be White and those who appear to be Black. The two groups are rarely pictured together. The visual narrative presented on Twitter depicts two distinct sides. Police are consistently shown prepared for conflict, but rarely are protesters in images with police. The implications of these findings are explored through the theoretical viewpoint of agenda setting.
Hautea, S., Parks, P., Takahashi, B., & Zeng, J. (2021). Showing They Care (Or Don’t): Affective Publics and Ambivalent Climate Activism on TikTok. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051211012344
Abstract. The microvideo platform TikTok has emerged as a popular hub for self-expression and social activism, particularly for youth, but use of the platform’s affective affordances to spread awareness of important issues has not been adequately studied. Through an exploratory multimodal discourse analysis of a sample of popular climate change-hashtagged TikTok videos, we examine how affordances of visibility, editability, and association facilitate the formation of affective publics on TikTok. We describe how TikTok’s features allow creators to construct and propagate multi-layered, affect-laden messages with varying degrees of earnestness, humor, and ambiguity. Finally, we identify recurring affective themes in popular climate change messages by studying not just in-frame content but also the discursive, intertextual, and memetic linkages that propagate affective publics. Collectively, these audiovisual expressions of personal engagement and awareness demonstrate how media affordances can abet, amplify, and confuse discussions of global issues online. These affordances facilitate a unique kind of activism by helping non-expert users intervene in a discussion that generally takes place among scientists and journalists: the question of how serious a problem climate change is and what to do about it.
Kiili, C., Smith, B. E., Räikkönen, E., & Marttunen, M. (2021). Students’ Interpretations of a Persuasive Multimodal Video About Vaccines. Journal of Literacy Research, 53(2), 196–218. https://doi.org/10.1177/1086296X211009296
Abstract. The present study investigated students’ (N = 404) interpretations of the main message and use of modes in a persuasive multimodal video on vaccines. It also examined whether students’ topic knowledge, language arts grades, and self-identified gender were associated with their interpretations. Students analyzed a YouTube video in which two entertainers demonstrated the importance of vaccinating children. Students’ interpretations of the usefulness of vaccines varied in terms of quality of reasoning, which was associated with students’ topic knowledge. Notably, many students’ interpretations of the use of modes were incomplete, or they did not even mention certain modes in their response. The results suggest that students should be explicitly taught how to interpret different modes and their uses for argumentative purposes.
Miller, B. (2017). YouTube as Educator: A Content Analysis of Issues, Themes, and the Educational Value of Transgender-Created Online Videos. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305117716271
Abstract. The current study explores the videos of eight popular transgender YouTubers. A content analysis was conducted to examine the themes present in videos, the specific issues discussed, and the educational value for viewers. In particular, the present research was interested in the amount of videos that contain transgender-specific content, and in the types of issues—both general and in terms of gender transition—about which transgender YouTubers converse. Videos were also analyzed in relation to self-identified type of transgender individual (e.g. male-to-female [MTF] or female-to-male [FTM]), and significant differences were found in both the amount of transgender-specific content as well as the educational value of videos. This article positions transgender YouTube content as an educational tool that can both help serve as guidance for transgender viewers, as well as increase mainstream audiences’ understanding of transgender persons, subjects, and struggles.
Vaccari, C., & Chadwick, A. (2020). Deepfakes and Disinformation: Exploring the Impact of Synthetic Political Video on Deception, Uncertainty, and Trust in News. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120903408
Abstract. Artificial Intelligence (AI) now enables the mass creation of what have become known as “deepfakes”: synthetic videos that closely resemble real videos. Integrating theories about the power of visual communication and the role played by uncertainty in undermining trust in public discourse, we explain the likely contribution of deepfakes to online disinformation. Administering novel experimental treatments to a large representative sample of the United Kingdom population allowed us to compare people’s evaluations of deepfakes. We find that people are more likely to feel uncertain than to be misled by deepfakes, but this resulting uncertainty, in turn, reduces trust in news on social media. We conclude that deepfakes may contribute toward generalized indeterminacy and cynicism, further intensifying recent challenges to online civic culture in democratic societies.