Taking it back to the 2000s: media consumption analysis

Blog post 2: 

Critique or analyse a text

In order to analyse a text I decided to find something that not only related to my research hypothesis for assignment three but was to an extent interesting. The text written by Thomas E. Patterson is called ‘Doing Well and Doing Good’. It identifies the main issue of the fall in American news consumption in 2000 to be ‘soft news vs hard news’. It corresponds with my question as I am looking to research how critical audiences are of news representation in 2015 by comparing data findings with this text.

Patterson’s topic and position

Patterson is a Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press Shorenstein Center. His main area of research is the media. So there is no surprise that his article is based on the comparison of soft and hard news and their effectiveness on audiences. Patterson’s text is highly objective and based on findings from research methodologies and data. He found that soft news has ‘become more personal and familiar in its form of presentation and less distant and institutional.’ and hard news to be ‘the daily unfolding of a people’s history’. It is clear throughout the article that data and evidence are what support Patterson’s hypothesis of whether news consumption is effected by ‘soft or hard news’.

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Audience: who’s interested?

It would be understood that Patterson’s article was mainly directed at academics or students interested in gaining knowledge about news consumption.

Method: proof and evidence in the findings

The main method of proof that Patterson used to support his work is graphing. He identifies trends in concepts such as ‘the increasing frequency of soft news stories’. He also uses data findings from questionnaires such as percentages and quotes.

Comparison to other texts

In terms of purpose, topic, audience and method this text was one of the first to address the idea that soft news was the result of an attempt to save news consumption in the year 2000.

Conclusion

Patterson’s key assumption is that in 2000 the diminishing news audience in America resulted in more soft news and critical reporting. He emphasises the importance of clarity when reporting on public affairs. His position is that soft news ‘distorts public perception’ and is therefore the reason behind the lack of news consumption. This idea is relatable to my research hypothesis as it reflects similar topics that are relevant to today’s news. 

Resources: 

https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/getFile.aspx?Id=1

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