Content analysis of newspaper publications has become a major scientific method of the analysis of public discourse. Within the framework of content analysis, we suggest a computer-assisted method to extract the most important topics of this discourse in an objective, quantifiable manner. The method combines frequency and proximity analysis of the text population, selection of the key words, text modification based on a key word dictionary, factor analysis of the modified text population, and factor interpretation. We illustrate the concept by applying the method to study the major topics discussed in the US and UK prestige press that relate to the precautionary principle. Precautionary principle is a concept of preventing environmental damage under scientific uncertainty. The analysis demonstrates the difference between the major topics of the precautionary principle discussion in the US and UK press. In the US, it revolves around an emphasis on the action on global warming, international trade on genetically modified food, environment pollution, the risks of new technologies, and cost-benefit analysis (CBA). In the UK, the major discussion topics include threats to agriculture and farmers, climate change economics, national and EU regulations, and commercial fishing. Other discussion topics, such as health and pollution, water safety regulations, meat safety and trade, and GMO regulations are shared between the countries. The US sample demonstrates more negative views towards the precautionary principle, which is presented as a threat to the US economic interests.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 19, 2010
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