A content analytic study of the newspaper coverage of an educational controversy at Simon Fraser University.

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Tho purple or lh;;. r!-.?-s i j; was i.o lU'.srribe the newspaper coverage or a particular educational issue us in;; the methodology of content analysis. Because communication is vital to all educational activities, it is essential that educators be continually increasing their knowledge of this process in order to facilitate effective learning. For nearly two weeks in March of 1967, Simon Fraser University was the setting of an educational controversy that involved the administration, faculty and students. The conflict, which was initiated by the behavior of a group of teaching assistants, generated community-wide and province-wide interest. It was the coverage of this conflict by the local press that was examined in this study. It was hypothesized that the editorial attitude toward a specific issue would affect communication in the news columns concerning that issue. The newspaper reporter was considered a gatekeeper because he controls che flow of news in a communication channel. In order to obtain a general picture of the local press coverage of Simon Fraser University, it was necessary to examine the history of the relationship between the university and the newsmen. This was achieved through a story-count analysis of articles about Sixor. Fraser which appeared during the period from July, 1963 to March, 1967, inclusive. An analysis of the gatekeeping behavior of the newspapers involved an examination of the total related content flowing through the news channel and was accomplished by utilizing various content analytic methods. These were; contingency analysis, a qualitative IV procedure that seeks Lo cxar.M-.-.c the pro'oabil: ly Chat a specified symbol will be drawn r.iven that other spec i fii'd sy~.bo"l:; are in that or related units; evaluative assertion analysis, a quantitative procedure for ".ensuring the evaluative intensity and direction ot certain concepts; direction analysis, which involved determining the evaluative direction of each paragraph.; and a display index, which provided scores on the display variables that given one item prominence over another. A questionnaire was also given to the local education editors, in order to gain information about their background and duties. \snaile the results of the background analysis and the analysis of the gatekeeping behavior seemed to support the hypothesis they did not prove anything but only suggested that the gatekeeping behavior of these particular newspapers, in this paricular case, seeir.ed to have been effected by the editorial attitude. However, several variables were discussed which may have affected the results. These included: the social organization of the newsroom; the attitudes and perceptions of the reporter; selectivity; the physical production of the newspaper; the student press; polarization of the conflict; and the responsibility of the newspaper. It was suggested that education, as a discipline, must pay more heed to the role of communication in the educational process and must be prepared to support research in this area.


Thesis (M.A.(Ed.)) - Dept. of Behavioural Science Foundations - Simon Fraser University

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Subject headings: 
Newspapers -- British Columbia.
Journalism -- British Columbia.
Robert J.C. Harper
Education: Department of Behavioural Science Foundations
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Ed.