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CHAPTER 13: MEDIA THEORY AND RESEARCH: FROM WRITING TO TEXT MESSAGING LEARNING OBJECTIVES After studying this chapter, students should know: 1. The definition of media research and the role that theory and research have for media professionals. 2. The differences between quantitative and qualitative research. 3. The various types of media research. 4. How to critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of various media research approaches. 5. How digital media and the Internet are being researched both in terms of new media theories being developed and within the framework of old media theories. 6. The historical development of media effects ideas. 7. Some of the concerns media effects researchers have regarding the Internet as opposed to television viewing and why. 110
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CHAPTER SUMMARY/LECTURE OUTLINE I. Vignette: A look at the benefits and challenges of a partnership between GM and the television show The Apprentice. Viewers were encouraged to create their own commercials and company executives were not too happy with the results. II. Media Quiz: Bringing Out Your Inner Researcher: Questions explore students’ knowledge of media research and understanding of media’s influences. III. The Role of Theory and Research A. Media theories help us organize and make sense of the world. They also play a key role in shaping research agendas, formulating questions asked during the course of research, and informing findings or discoveries. B. Research findings not only attract funding, but influence public policies toward the media and media industries. IV. Media Research: What Type of Science Is It? This debate can best be understood when considering positivism, which says that there is an objective reality that can be observed, measured, and explained by a neutral observer, and social constructionism that posits all meaning and truth are derived from social interactions. A. Quantitative Research 1. This methodology includes experiments, surveys, and content analysis and tries to emulate the physical sciences in terms of conducting scientifically verifiable studies and statistical analysis. 2. Researchers tend to assume their work will help better predict behavior, find causal effects for certain phenomena, or confirm or deny certain media theories. B. Qualitative Research 1. This methodology describes phenomena in words instead of numbers or measures, providing a fuller context to studies. Also called critical-cultural studies, researchers use ethnographic techniques, such as interviews to learn about beliefs or trends. 2. Participant-observation is a technique in which researchers immerse themselves into a culture to directly observe it. 3. Focus groups provide important insights through the social interaction that takes place among the participants that the researcher would not get otherwise. C.
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