The lion’s share of humankind depends on media to see and hear what is happening in other places. Therefore, doing an analysis of world news is an essential skill. Regardless our cultural background or our age, we all need to understand how media make sense of the world around us and construct events. For example, how does the front page of The Times from 3 March 2014 make sense of the conflict in Ukraine?
During my Summer School on Media Representations and Research Methods at Maastricht University, students learn how they can do an analysis of world news. I help them with applying critical discourse analysis, social semiotics and frame analysis.
This post suggests a structure the analysis of world news. The learning objective is to write a good paper within a short time span. This step-by-step approach helped many former students of my Summer School with getting started with their research. Some of these students used their Summer School paper as a starting point for an excellent peer-reviewed journal article.
The 10 Steps for a Good Analysis of World News
- Read and summarise the widely appraised chapter “The Work of Representation” by Stuart Hall.
- Select a theme that is relevant for your studies or job. Your analysis of world news could focus an event (e.g. 9/11), a timely issue (e.g. conflict in Ukraine) or a long-term trend (e.g. climate change).
- Select a concept that is relevant for the context of your theme (e.g. human rights, national identity or migration).
- Select a medium that you would like to examine: newspaper, magazine, television, website or social media.
- Select a source, such as CNN TV news, RT website or the Guardian newspaper.
- Select a text, image or footage from your source. A comparison of two sources is possible as well, but requires a strategy to keep the analysis manageable.
- Formulate a research question that contains your theme, concept and a noun/verb that refers to meaning-making processes. For example: How is the conflict in the Ukraine [theme, 2] framed [refers to meaning-making processes] in terms of national identity [concept, 3] by the selected text  on the front page of the printed newspaper [medium, 4] of the Times (London) [source, 5]?
- Select a method that can help you answer your research question. During my Summer School, students choose from different approaches towards critical discourse analysis, social semiotics and frame analysis.
- Select six sources (or more) about your theme, your concept and your method (two for each). These could be journal articles, book chapters and work from other quality sources.
- Write your essay. This last step consists of five stages:
- Introduce your theme, concept and research questions;
- Explain the method and reflect on how it relates to Stuart Hall’s chapter;
- Contextualise the selected news texts/images, and explain why you chose them;
- Describe, interpret and analyse the selected news texts/images;
- Put your research findings in a broader perspective and relate them to your research questions.
If you have any questions about the analysis of world news, please contact me.