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Essays on Media Analysis

What makes a good media analysis essay topics.

When embarking on the quest to find the perfect topic for a media analysis essay, it is crucial to select one that not only captivates but also provides ample opportunities for analysis. Here are some innovative recommendations to fuel your brainstorming process and aid in the selection of an outstanding essay topic:

Brainstorm: Begin by jotting down all the media-related subjects that pique your interest. Explore various forms of media, including television, movies, social media, news articles, and advertising campaigns.

Research potential topics: Once you have a list of potential topics, conduct preliminary research to ensure that there is enough information available to support your analysis. Seek out recent and relevant sources that offer diverse perspectives.

Choose a specific angle: Narrow down your topic by selecting a specific aspect or angle to analyze. Instead of analyzing generic "television shows," for example, you could focus on the portrayal of gender roles in reality TV programs.

Consider significance: Evaluate the significance of your chosen topic. Does it address a current issue or prevalent challenge in society? Opt for subjects that have broader implications and can generate meaningful discussions.

Uniqueness: Strive for a topic that stands out from the ordinary. Avoid overdone subjects and aim for creativity and originality. Look for unique angles or lesser-known media artifacts to analyze.

Personal interest: Lastly, choose a topic that genuinely interests you. A personal interest in the subject matter will make the writing process more enjoyable and result in a more engaging essay.

Remember, a good media analysis essay topic should be specific, relevant, unique, and align with your personal interests. Now, let's embark on an exploration of the best media analysis essay topics that meet these criteria.

The Best Media Analysis Essay Topics

The Influential Role of Social Media in Shaping Body Image Perception Among Teenagers

Analyzing the Portrayal of Mental Health in Popular TV Shows

The Impact of Media on Political Opinion Formation during Election Campaigns

Examining the Representation of Race and Ethnicity in Hollywood Movies

The Power of Advertising: Its Influence on Consumer Behavior and Purchasing Decisions

The Effects of Video Game Content on Aggression and Behavior in Young Adults

The Role of Media in Shaping Public Perception of Climate Change

The Evolution of News Media: From Traditional Outlets to Digital Platforms

Gender Stereotypes in Commercials: Analyzing Their Persistence and Impact

The Influence of Celebrity Endorsements on Brand Loyalty and Consumer Trust

Provocative Questions to Guide Your Media Analysis

To delve deeper into these media analysis essay topics, ponder these ten thought-provoking questions:

How does social media contribute to the objectification of women?

In what ways does mainstream media perpetuate racial stereotypes?

How does the portrayal of violence in video games affect children's behavior?

To what extent do advertising campaigns exploit insecurities to sell products?

How does political bias influence news reporting in mainstream media?

How do reality TV shows shape viewers' perceptions of success and failure?

What role does media play in the normalization of drug and alcohol use?

How do different news outlets cover the same event differently, and why?

In what ways do children's cartoons reinforce gender roles and stereotypes?

How does the representation of LGBTQ+ individuals in media affect societal attitudes?

Inspiring Prompts for Your Media Analysis Essay

Here are five imaginative essay prompts to ignite your creativity in the realm of media analysis:

Analyze the use of symbolism in a specific music video of your choice and examine its impact on the audience's interpretation.

Discuss how a particular news outlet's coverage of a recent event demonstrates media bias and explore its potential consequences.

Examine the marketing strategies employed in a successful viral advertising campaign and assess their effects on brand recognition and consumer behavior.

Compare and contrast the representation of technology and its impact on society in two science fiction films.

Critically analyze the portrayal of marginalized communities in a specific TV series and its influence on societal perceptions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Writing a Media Analysis Essay

  • Q: How should I structure a media analysis essay?

A: A media analysis essay typically follows an introduction, body paragraphs analyzing different aspects, and a conclusion. Ensure that each paragraph focuses on a specific argument or analysis point.

  • Q: Can I incorporate personal opinions in a media analysis essay?

A: While media analysis essays should strive for objectivity, you can include your interpretation and analysis of the media artifacts. However, always support your claims with evidence and examples.

  • Q: How can I find relevant sources for my media analysis essay?

A: Utilize academic databases, reputable news outlets, scholarly articles, books, and credible online sources to gather relevant information and support your analysis.

  • Q: Should I include a thesis statement in my media analysis essay?

A: Yes, a clear and concise thesis statement is essential in a media analysis essay. It should convey your main argument or analysis focus.

  • Q: Can I analyze media artifacts from different time periods in one essay?

A: It is generally recommended to focus on a specific time period or media artifact in each essay. This approach allows for a more in-depth analysis and prevents the essay from becoming overly broad.

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Media analysis refers to the systematic examination and interpretation of media content, including various forms of media such as print, broadcast, and digital media. It involves critically analyzing and evaluating the messages, themes, and techniques employed in media to understand their impact on individuals, society, and culture.

Media analysis uncovers underlying meanings, implicit messages, and societal implications within media texts. It examines narrative structures, visual aesthetics, language use, cultural representations, and ideological biases. Researchers gain insights into meaning construction, power dynamics, and social influences in media. This analysis reveals patterns, trends, and dominant discourses, showing how media shapes public opinion and reflects societal values. By critically examining media content, media analysis deepens understanding of media's role in shaping narratives, public discourse, and socio-political dynamics.

  • Media Texts: Analysis of news articles, television shows, films, advertisements, social media posts, and websites.
  • Representation: Analysis of the representation of individuals, groups, events, and ideas in media. It examines how different social, cultural, and political identities are portrayed and the impact of these representations on shaping perceptions, stereotypes, and biases.
  • Audience Reception: This involves examining audience responses, interpretations, and the influence of media on attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • Media Institutions: It examines the ownership structures, industry practices, and policies that shape media content and its dissemination.
  • Media Effects: This involves studying the influence of media on public opinion, social behavior, cultural values, and political processes.

Content Analysis, Semiotic Analysis, Discourse Analysis, Audience Research, Comparative Analysis, Historical Analysis, Critical Cultural Analysis.

The Media Analysis essay topics are crucial as they reveal how media shapes public opinion, reflects societal values, and influences cultural norms. By critically examining media content, we can uncover implicit messages, ideological biases, and power dynamics. This understanding helps to foster media literacy, enabling individuals to navigate and interpret media more effectively, and promotes informed and critical engagement with the information that shapes our world.

1. Anstead, N., & O'Loughlin, B. (2015). Social media analysis and public opinion: The 2010 UK general election. Journal of computer-mediated communication, 20(2), 204-220. (https://academic.oup.com/jcmc/article/20/2/204/4067564) 2. Ravaja, N. (2004). Contributions of psychophysiology to media research: Review and recommendations. Media Psychology, 6(2), 193-235. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s1532785xmep0602_4) 3. Stieglitz, S., & Dang-Xuan, L. (2013). Social media and political communication: a social media analytics framework. Social network analysis and mining, 3, 1277-1291. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13278-012-0079-3) 4. Filo, K., Lock, D., & Karg, A. (2015). Sport and social media research: A review. Sport management review, 18(2), 166-181. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1441352314000904) 5. McQuail, D. (1985). Sociology of mass communication. Annual Review of Sociology, 11(1), 93-111. (https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.so.11.080185.000521) 6. Lockyer, S., & Pickering, M. (2008). You must be joking: The sociological critique of humour and comic media. Sociology Compass, 2(3), 808-820. (https://compass.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2008.00108.x) 7. Arsenault, A., & Castells, M. (2008). Switching power: Rupert Murdoch and the global business of media politics: A sociological analysis. International Sociology, 23(4), 488-513. (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0268580908090725 )

Relevant topics

  • Social Media
  • Effects of Social Media
  • American Identity
  • Discourse Community
  • Personal Identity
  • Sociological Imagination
  • Sex, Gender and Sexuality

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111 Media Analysis Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

Media analysis is a crucial aspect of studying communication and society in today's digital age. From examining the portrayal of gender in advertisements to analyzing the impact of social media on political discourse, there are endless topics to explore in this field. If you're looking for inspiration for your next media analysis essay, look no further. Here are 111 topic ideas and examples to get you started:

  • The representation of race in mainstream television shows
  • How social media influencers shape consumer behavior
  • The role of media in perpetuating stereotypes about mental illness
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage in different media outlets
  • The impact of reality TV on society's perception of beauty
  • An analysis of gender roles in children's cartoons
  • The portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters in popular movies
  • The influence of advertising on body image and self-esteem
  • The use of propaganda in political campaigns
  • The effects of digital media on interpersonal relationships
  • A critical analysis of celebrity gossip magazines
  • The representation of disability in the media
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on climate change
  • A comparison of news coverage in print vs. online media
  • The portrayal of women in video games
  • The impact of social media on political activism
  • The representation of violence in the media
  • An analysis of memes as a form of cultural communication
  • The influence of media on eating disorders
  • The portrayal of race and ethnicity in superhero movies
  • The role of media in perpetuating beauty standards
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The representation of aging in popular TV shows
  • The effects of media consolidation on diversity of voices
  • The portrayal of mental health in popular music
  • The influence of media on body image and eating disorders
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of police brutality
  • The representation of women in advertising
  • The impact of social media on political polarization
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on immigration
  • A comparison of news coverage in conservative vs. liberal media outlets
  • The portrayal of masculinity in action movies
  • The effects of media violence on children
  • The representation of poverty in the media
  • The influence of media on perceptions of race and crime
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on gun control
  • The portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters in popular TV shows
  • The impact of social media on mental health
  • The representation of women in sports media
  • The influence of media on public perceptions of terrorism
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage of war in different media outlets
  • The portrayal of aging in advertising
  • The effects of media consolidation on local news coverage
  • The representation of disability in popular movies
  • The role of media in perpetuating stereotypes about race and crime
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of the opioid crisis
  • The influence of media on public perceptions of poverty
  • The portrayal of women in fashion magazines
  • The impact of social media on political engagement
  • The representation of masculinity in beer commercials
  • The effects of media violence on attitudes towards gun control
  • The influence of media on perceptions of immigration
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage of climate change in different media outlets
  • The portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters in children's books
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on healthcare
  • The representation of race and ethnicity in historical movies
  • The impact of social media on body image and self-esteem
  • The portrayal of women in music videos
  • The influence of media on public perceptions of police brutality
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of mass shootings
  • The role of media in perpetuating stereotypes about gender and violence
  • The representation of disability in fashion advertising
  • The effects of media consolidation on access to diverse viewpoints
  • The portrayal of aging in popular music
  • The influence of media on perceptions of mental illness
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage of the #MeToo movement
  • The portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters in sitcoms
  • The impact of social media on public trust in the media
  • The representation of masculinity in fashion magazines
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on reproductive rights
  • The effects of media violence on attitudes towards sexual assault
  • The influence of media on perceptions of race and intelligence
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of school shootings
  • The portrayal of women in superhero comics
  • The impact of social media on political disinformation
  • The representation of race and ethnicity in popular music
  • The role of media in perpetuating stereotypes about poverty and welfare
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage of the refugee crisis
  • The portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters in teen dramas
  • The influence of media on public perceptions of drug addiction
  • The effects of media consolidation on local news deserts
  • The portrayal of aging in beauty commercials
  • The impact of social media on public trust in science
  • The representation of disability in reality TV shows
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on climate change denial
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of police shootings
  • The portrayal of masculinity in car commercials
  • The influence of media on attitudes towards immigration policy
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage of the 2020 election
  • The portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters in young adult novels
  • The impact of social media on public trust in government institutions
  • The representation of race and ethnicity in popular video games
  • The role of media in perpetuating stereotypes about mental illness and violence
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of the opioid epidemic
  • The portrayal of women in horror movies
  • The influence of media on public perceptions of police brutality and race
  • The effects of media consolidation on access to information in rural communities
  • The portrayal of aging in sitcoms
  • The impact of social media on public trust in the medical profession
  • The representation of disability in superhero movies
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on healthcare reform
  • A comparative analysis of news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in different media outlets
  • The portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters in animated films
  • The influence of media on public perceptions of income inequality
  • The effects of media consolidation on access to diverse cultural perspectives
  • The portrayal of masculinity in action figures
  • The impact of social media on public trust in the criminal justice system
  • The representation of race and ethnicity in historical documentaries
  • The role of media in perpetuating stereotypes about gender and leadership
  • A critical analysis of news coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests

These topic ideas and examples are just a starting point for your media analysis essay. Feel free to explore and expand upon them to create a unique and insightful piece of analysis that contributes to the ongoing conversation about media and society. Happy writing!

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100 Media Analysis Essay Topics & Examples

Welcome to our list of media analysis essay topics! Here, you will find plenty of content analysis topic ideas. Use them to write a critical paper, a literary analysis, or a mass-media related project. As a bonus, we’ve included media analysis example essays!

🔝 Top 10 Media Analysis Topics for 2024

🏆 best media analysis topic ideas & essay examples, ⭐ interesting topics to write about media analysis, ✅ simple & easy media analysis essay titles, 🔥 content analysis topic ideas.

  • Portrayal of Women in Ads
  • Media Bias in Political Reporting
  • Representation and Diversity on TV
  • Social Media’s Impact on Self-Esteem
  • Media Coverage of Humanitarian Crises
  • How Are News on Climate Change Framed?
  • Consequences of Fake News and Misinformation
  • How Gender Roles Are portrayed in Children’s Media
  • Does Violence in Video Games Lead to Aggressive Behavior?
  • The Relationship of Media and Public Opinion in Elections
  • Analysis of Media Strategies This is because it uses a reverse marketing strategy which states that the less the advertisement, the higher the pricing and the harder it becomes to find it, the higher the chances that people will […]
  • Covering a Pandemic: Critical Media Analysis A lot of work over the past decades has been devoted to the study of media analysis, which has led to the formation of a new area of knowledge, concepts, and categories.
  • “Super Bowl LVI Today: Day 1” Media Analysis Hence, it is essential to consider the priorities of the mass communication organization, namely the tone, look and advertising in the show.
  • Sociological Media Analysis: “The Bachelor” and “One Day at a Time” The show is misogynistic, with the male protagonist playing the role of the pursuer and the female protagonist assuming the role of the pursued.
  • Historical Components of Media Analysis In the case of Mumford and McLuhan, Carey observes that the writing and interpretation of media can result in the reconstruction of wider arguments and even the selection of an antagonistic agent.
  • Analysis of Social Media Tools in Business The last item, the detailed analytics of the content and activity, allows for the development of the more efficient business strategy based on the subscribers’ preferences.
  • Media Literacy Research: Analysis of the Issue In the process of research, I have significantly expanded my ability to access and analyze media messages as well as to use the power of information to communicate and make a difference in the world.
  • Media Influences Learning: Analysis The use of media in learning leads to the achievement of positive outcomes if the medium used is interrelated and confounding.
  • Media Analysis: Abuse Over Vaccine Passports The article uses the direct quotations of the restaurant owners, thus making the most of the story based in the first person.
  • Media Analysis: Ageism in Advertisement In addition to the idea of saving communicated in E-trade’s ad, the commercial also seems to convey the hope of work among the old population.
  • Media Analysis of 13 Reasons Why According to the laws of the genre, the atmosphere is intensified, the pace accelerates, and the turns in the plot become more and more abrupt.
  • Media Bias Fact Check: Website Analysis For instance, Fact Check relies on the evidence provided by the person or organization making a claim to substantiate the accuracy of the source.
  • The Media Economics Analysis In addition, the assessment of the economics of media reveals crucial information about the production, distribution, and consumption patterns of the media services and products.
  • Social Media Presence Analysis I think it expresses engagement within my workplace and willingness to learn more to either explore new ideas, be a part of the discussion, and make sure the information I am gathering is accurate and […]
  • The HopeLine: Website and Social Media Analysis The organization’s social media and the site contain a body of knowledge that might be also informative or important to revise for the current employees, for instance types and signs of abuse.
  • Media Analysis: Gideon’s Trumpet As it has been mentioned above, the purpose of the movie was to show that even a criminal has the right to have someone to represent him in the courtroom.
  • Acute Otitis Media Analysis The peak of acute ear infections, which precedes otitis media, is prior to the age of 2 years, and during school entry.
  • Modern Mass Media and Tools for Their Analysis A sender is a person who originates the message, a message is the content that is communicated, a channel is a medium used to transmit it, and a recipient is a person to whom the […]
  • Analysis of Media Representation Patterns In fact, studies show that the DNA of any given human being is ninety-nine percent identical in comparison to the rest of the population, regardless of their origin.
  • News and Media Reliability: Social Analysis At the same time, given the apparent trend to use the Internet as the primary source of news, mobile devices still seem to arouse suspicion among the adult and the older adult population. The most […]
  • Analysis Representations of Britishness in Different Media Texts Although it is clear to me that facts of Britishness exist in all three media sources listed above, I understand that it has different sides and is shown as a mixture of cultural peculiarities, breathtaking […]
  • On Stereotyping in the Media Viewers watch shows regularly and do not understand the content that is biased while the media is able to attract the attention of the audience by way of drama, comedy and action.
  • Media and Injustice: Issues Analysis This paper will high light relations among media and the Injustice, discuss media in it’s past and current perspective and it’s possible role in future challenges by means of special importance on the media management […]
  • Media Coverage of Issues Analysis The main arguments that the authors suggest are: Inconsistent use of labels for the alternative plans minimized the likelihood that the public would understand the details of any of them; The conflicts frame narrowed public […]
  • Mass Media Communication: Personal Analysis Finally, when I do the same in the kitchen in the morning, I am occupied with preparing and eating my breakfast; therefore, television serves as a background and I cannot be focused on the information […]
  • Mass Media Law’s Analysis Indeed, the existing regulations show that the specified action is defined as flag desecration can be interpreted as an affront of the citizen of the United States, as well as the disdain for the law.
  • “The New Yorker” and “National Geographic” Media Analysis What finds most interesting about Surowiecki’s article is that he manages to counter the politics of the USA government, whereas, in Alexander’s article, the secret of the buried treasure and the historical events are the […]
  • Media Analysis: Jacob’s Cross In the Jacob’s Cross episode that was watched the following scenes that apply to the social justice theme were observed: This episode begins in the morning by Jacob calling his attorney and some other close […]
  • Social Media Data Analysis For the company storage purposes, information in wikis is stored in a chronological order and may be used to build the company’s knowledge.
  • Fairfax Media Limited Situational Analysis While it has generally taken Fairfax a longer time than expected to identify and adapt to the shift brought about by the rise of technology in market- specifically the internet and social media- the company […]
  • Media Industry News Analysis: Gasland May Take the Oscar To learn more about the world of media, it is better to focus on the news and the main themes of the articles offered to the reader.
  • Fairfax Media Industrial Environmental Analysis When the rights are granted, they come with a cost to the company; there has been challenges of print media from free press media in Australia thus Fairfax faces the challenge to handle the situation.
  • Media Analysis: Women and Men in Media Against this background the paper attempts to probe the way in which the press and especially the print journalism help to produce and to reproduce specific ways of knowing the third world.
  • Content Analysis of Two Different Forms of Media Although the first one uses television and the second uses the Internet and the World-Wide-Web to deliver content to consumers it must be pointed out that these two are rivals and basically has the same […]
  • Analysis of Gender Issues in the Media The message in the advertisement simply showed that women are able to control men by using their bodies in a certain way.
  • The Focus on the Importance of Symbols in Media Analysis
  • Visual Media Analysis for Social Media and Other Online Platforms
  • Research Methodologies for the Media Analysis
  • Communications and Media Analysis
  • Television Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis: Leadership
  • Predicting Stock Market Using Social Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis: Television and New Media
  • Media Analysis and Feminism
  • Television Media Analysis: Authors and Producers
  • How the Media Places Responsibility for the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Australian Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis: Political and Social Bias in the USA
  • Collecting Data in Social Media Analysis
  • The Jurisprudence and Qualitative Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis: Banning Beauty and the Beast in Malaysia
  • Media Analysis and Understanding the Meaning of Islam
  • Symbolic Interactionism and Social Networks: Media Analysis
  • Television Media Analysis: The Cosby Show
  • Marketing and Business Communication: Media Analysis
  • The Difference Between the Quantitative and Qualitative Media Analysis
  • Structuring and Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis: Audiences and Consumers
  • Managing the News and Media Analysis
  • Comparative and Critical Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis: Rose Petal Cottage
  • Video Installation and Media Analysis
  • Philosophical and Social Media Analysis
  • Critical and Interdisciplinary Research in Media Analysis
  • Public Relations and Media Analysis: Semantic and Social Aspects
  • Functionalist Perspective for Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis of Traditional Primary Documents
  • Responsibility for the COVID-19 Pandemic: Media Analysis
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Media Analysis
  • A Visual Analytics System for Television Ratings
  • Food Chain Actors’ Perceptions of and Adaptations to Volatile Markets: Results of a Media Analysis
  • Religion and the Media Analysis
  • Symbolic Interactionist Perspective for Media Analysis
  • Employer Relation: Industrial Conflict Media Analysis
  • Symbolic Interactionist Perspective Media Analysis
  • Media Analysis: Overview of Media Research Methodologies and Audiences
  • Patterns of Emotional Expression in Social Media Posts
  • A Comparative Content Analysis of Television Shows and Gender Representation
  • Environmental Sustainability Messaging in Advertisements
  • Patterns of Persuasive Language in Political Debates
  • News Coverage during COVID-19: Media Framing and Public Perception
  • The Impact of Celebrity Endorsement on Consumer Behavior
  • Analysis of Unrealistic Standards in Video Game Characters
  • How Portrayal of Violence in Movies Leads to Desensitization
  • Diversity of Characters and Themes in Children’s Literature
  • How Fashion Magazines Affect Beauty Ideals
  • Effectiveness of Educational Apps for Children
  • Do Food Advertisements Promote Healthy Nutritional Choices?
  • Representation of LGBTQ+ Characters in TV Series
  • Environmental Messaging in Corporate Social Responsibility Reports
  • Representations and Perspectives on Climate Change
  • TV Show Titles
  • New York Times Topics
  • Radio Paper Topics
  • Propaganda Topics
  • Twitter Topics
  • YouTube Topics
  • Oprah Winfrey Topics
  • Mass Communication Essay Topics
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

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Media Analysis – An Explanation for Undergraduates

Media Analysis – An Explanation for Undergraduates

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

Learn about our Editorial Process

Media analysis is a research methodology used in mass communication studies, media studies, cultural studies, and the social sciences. It is defined as the analysis and critique of media.

The aim of media analysis is to understand media’s potential to impact individuals and society. Media analysis has two main purposes:

media analysis a guide for undergraduates

  • Critique of Media: It can identify how groups in society such as women and people of color are represented in the media to help us understand systemic racism and sexism, and can help expose media bias .
  • Media Campaign Research: It can also help media companies identify gaps in the advertising landscape to better promote their own products.

What is Media Analysis?

Media analysis studies texts: books, letters, videos, television shows, blogs, movies, newspapers, etc. It looks directly at media texts (rather than interviewing media producers) and reflects on what they collectively say about an issue. Here are some useful scholarly definitions that you could use in an essay:

  • Media analysis is the study of “what is said on a given subject in a given place at a given time” within the media (Lasswell, Lerner and Pool, 1952, p. 34) – this is one of the first ever definitions.
  • “Content analysis is a research method that uses a set of procedures to make valid inferences from text” (Weber, 1990, p. 9)
  • “Critical media analysis means thinking critically about the impact of the media on the distribution of power in society.” (Stocchetti & Kukkonen, 2011, p. 13)
  • It “is a research technique that is based on measuring the amount of something (violence, negative portrayals of women, or whatever) in a representative sampling of some mass-mediated popular form of art” (Berger, 2005, p. 25)
  • It is “a technique for gathering and analysing the content of text.” (Neuman, 1997, p. 272)

How to do Media Analysis

Media content analysis can be conducted in multiple ways. But, media analysis has two core elements that must always be looked at systematically: the text and its content.

The text is the thing you look at while conducting your analysis. Neuman (1997, p. 273) describes a text as: “anything written, visual, or spoken that serves as a medium for communication”. Usually, we try to look at a wide range of texts within a defined period of time (say, maybe all superhero movies in 2020; or, all newspaper articles published in national newspapers about Trump in July 2020). This helps increase the validity of the analysis. Texts can be:

  • Newspaper articles
  • Email chains
  • Television shows
  • Advertisements
  • YouTube videos
  • Etc. etc. etc.

The content is the ‘stuff’ that you analyze within the text. Neuman (1997, p. 273) defines content as “words, meanings, pictures, symbols, ideas, themes, or any message that can be communicated.” To analyze this content, we might count the amount of positive versus negative statements about someone, how a camera frames someone as powerful or weak, the amount of time someone is given to speak, and so forth. Generally, content can be broken down into four categories:

  • Written: words, sentences, paragraphs, etc.
  • Sonic / Audible: spoken words, music, sound effects, etc.
  • Visual: Images, pictures, color schemes, camera angles, facial expressions, etc.
  • Motive: The pace at which things move, the direction they move, etc.

Quantitative Techniques

‘Quantitative’ approaches to media analysis use measurable scientific approaches to analyze media texts. These approaches will involve counting exact numbers, ratios, percentages, etc. to get objective facts about media representation. Below are the two major quantitative approaches to media analysis.

1. Quantitative Content Analysis

Quantitative methods count the numbers of mentions, keywords, latent semantic keywords, etc. in order to create measurable comparisons. Comparisons can be made between media texts (e.g. “Which media are more inclusive of women?”, or between elements within a text (e.g. “What is the ratio between white and non-white representation within this text?”). Usually, software tools are employed during quantitative content analysis to create a reliable and objective overview of media representation.

2. Laswell’s Method

Laswell’s method is the oldest method of media analysis. For Laswell, you can do a simple critique of media representation by asking the following 5 questions:

  • Who? Look at the media channel doing the communication. Are they respectable? Are they historically biased? Do they follow journalistic ethics? Who funds them?
  • Says What? Look at what is being said. How does it frame the issue?
  • In which Channel? Look at the means of communication. Is it television, blogs, podcasts, etc.? How does the channel / medium impact the message being communicated? Is it a medium that attracts millenials, or baby boomers?
  • To Whom? Look at who the target audience is. What might this say about why the message is framed the way it is?
  • With what Effect? Has the media had an impact on politics, public discourse, the growth of certain movements, or the increased sale of certain products?

3. Quantitative Approach – Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages of a quantitative approach:

  • It can seem more reliable because it provides objective figures.
  • It provides direct measurable comparisons.

Disadvantages of a quantitative approach:

  • Lack of context. Often, only subjective human analysis can identify how media manipulates people.
  • Media analysis is about looking at how media is manipulative; it’s hard to use machines to pick up on the nuances of media techniques.

Qualitative Techniques

Qualitative methods are much more common for media analysis these days. Many researchers have realized it’s very hard to provide a deep analysis of media texts using hard scientific methods .

There are a lot of little human nuances in meda that require deep explanations and a critical human eye critiquing texts. This is where qualitative approaches are very beneficial. Below are the two major qualitative approaches to media analysis.

1. Social Semiotics

‘Semiotics’ is the study of signs and symbols. It was invented by Ferdinand de Saussure who explored how ‘signs’ create ‘meaning’. ‘Social semiotics’ is a more contemporary approach, which not only looks at signs. It also looks at how signs get their meaning from culture. For example, a red octagon doesn’t naturally mean ‘Stop sign’. But, in our culture, we know that it nearly always means that because it’s the meaning our culture gave to the sign. To do a Social Semiotic Analysis, closely examine the texts you want to analyse. Watch / read / listen to them and take notes on the contents:

  • Sounds: What sounds are present and how do they influence the message? For example, if there is classical music, it may mean a different audience is appealed to than rap music. We know this because we have a finger on the pulse of our culture – we know what social groups rap music would appeal to.
  • Words: Are there words or phrases that jump out to you for the way they frame particular groups? Take note of these words and phrases and how frequently they’re used.
  • Images: How do the images influence us? If the color scheme is mostly blue, perhaps the text is designed to soothe and calm us. If there are images of someone in a white doctor’s coat, is it an advertisement trying to tell us that the product is backed by science? If there are low camera angles looking up at someone, is it trying to make that person appear powerful? Etc.

A social semiotic analysis would then create a group of themes to discuss. A theme might be: “Women are represented as powerful in this text.” Another might be: “Most dental advertisements use scientific language to convince viewers.”

2. Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis explores discourses (messages circulating in society). It was created by Michel Foucault in the 1970s. It has become a very popular way of examining media texts to figure out how power is reproduced through media bias . Discourse analysis is very similar to social semiotics. In fact, I would recommend combining the two. However, discourse analysis is unique in that its focus is on power. It wants to explore how media silences some people and empowers others. Here are some unique aspects of a discourse analysis to look out for when looking at media texts:

  • Who is silenced by the text? When closely examining your texts, think about who is absent in the text. This means not just looking at what’s said and shown. You also need to look at what isn’t said. What’s not shown is just as important as what is shown.
  • What do silences say about the message? Once you know what isn’t said and shown, what can you infer from this? Is the media conveniently excluding certain points because they don’t adhere to capitalist consumer society? Are marginalized groups and their views missing from mainstream media?
  • What is presumed as ‘true’ and what is presumed as ‘untrue’ within media messages? According to discourse analysis, truth is produced by discourse (the messages that circulate in society). So, discourse analysis critiques what is presumed to be true and untrue within media and how this might change over time.

3. Qualitative Approach – Advantages & Disadvantages 

Advantages of a qualitative approach:

  • Human communication is very hard to measure quantitatively. Quantitative methods can’t pick up the subtle cultural, social and political messages in media.
  • Qualitative research gives deep, detailed explanations using ‘thick description’ of data. It can be very convincing, if done well.

Disadvantages of a qualitative approach:

  • Validity and authority is hard to achieve because researcher interpretation is central to this style of research.
  • It has been accused of bias and hyper-subjectivity. Many people see it as a psudo-science where any researcher can come up with any results they want so long as their arguments are convincing. See: the grievance studies hoax.

Example of Media Analysis

“How do Car Advertisements on Television Represent Women?”

You gather all car advertisements in the national archives of advertising from the past 3 years. It’s 250 advertisements. You decide to conduct a media discourse analysis. You watch all advertisements, and take notes on:

  • How many advertisements depict women
  • What roles women take in the advertisements
  • How women are spoken about in the advertisements

You review your notes, and find three themes:

  • Women are only shown in 25% of advertisements
  • Women are driving trucks in only 5% of advertisements
  • When women are depicted, they’re predominantly sexualized and shown as objects of men’s desire

Strengths & Weaknesses of Media Analysis

  • It helps to show how media contributes to social and cultural biases which could marginalize some members of society.
  • It helps us reflect on power relationships.
  • It can create a case to media departments about how best to advertise a product in the marketplace.
  • It is often accused of having very little real-life relevance . A descriptive overview of media’s biases may be a good academic exercise, but it’s not the most desirable skill to have for future employers.
  • There is so much media these days that it’s hard to get a snapshot of the whole media landscape. You usually have to zoom-in on small market subsets which are case studies that cannot provide broad overgeneralizations .

Altheide, D. & Schneider, C. (2013). Qualitative Media Analysis. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Berger, A. (2005). Media research techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Fairclough, N. (2010). Critical analysis of media discourse. In: Thornham, S., Bassett, C., & Marris, P. (Eds.). Media studies: A reader . New York: NYU Press.

Kress, G. R., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design . Sydney: Psychology Press.

Macnamara, J. (2005). Media content analysis: Its uses, benefits and Best Practice Methodology. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 6 (1), 1– 34.

Neuman, W. L. (1997). Social research methods: qualitative and quantitative approaches. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon

Stocchetti, M. & Kukkonen, K. (2011). Critical Media Analysis: An Introduction for Media Professionals. Frankfurt: Peter Yang.

Chris

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3 thoughts on “Media Analysis – An Explanation for Undergraduates”

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Dear Chris, Thank you for mentioning our books. However, you have misspelled our names. ‘Stocchetti’ is with two ‘c’ and it is ‘Kukkonen’, and not ‘Kukkonon’

Matteo Stocchetti

' src=

Apologies – that’s been fixed. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your useful book on Media Analysis!

Regards, Chris

' src=

I found this so interesting and useful as a media analyst in the making. Thanks to you Dr. Chris.

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How to Do a Media Analysis

Last Updated: February 9, 2024

This article was co-authored by Noah Taxis . Noah Taxis is an English Teacher based in San Francisco, California. He has taught as a credentialed teacher for over four years: first at Mountain View High School as a 9th- and 11th-grade English Teacher, then at UISA (Ukiah Independent Study Academy) as a Middle School Independent Study Teacher. He is now a high school English teacher at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco. He received an MA in Secondary Education and Teaching from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. He also received an MA in Comparative and World Literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a BA in International Literary & Visual Studies and English from Tufts University. This article has been viewed 39,599 times.

A media analysis reviews a broad swath of news stories on a given subject. Media professionals may use media analysis to decide how to frame a story that they want to publish, such as by helping them choose specific terms and rhetorical appeals to use. This is also a common assignment in communications and journalism courses, so you might also do this as a student. Start by collecting news stories and then analyze them by asking and answering questions about them.

Collecting Stories to Analyze

Step 1 List all of the media outlets in your area.

  • For example, you may include the local newspaper, radio station, web news sources, and possibly any major news sources in the nearest big city if you’re in a rural area or suburb.
  • Alternatively, you might want to focus on national or worldwide news sources to analyze a larger company or subject.

Step 2 Make a list of search terms based on your topic.

  • For example, if you’re conducting a media analysis of the controversy over a major highway construction project in your city, then you might include terms like, “highway construction,” “highway controversy,” “construction budget concerns,” etc.

Step 3 Collect news stories from research databases from the last 6 months.

  • Make sure to include a variety of different types of media sources unless you’re hoping to examine a specific medium, such as TV, radio, or print news.

Tip : If desired, you may expand your search to cover a longer period of time, such as 12 months. This may result in a more thorough study of the topic.

Step 4 Separate the stories into categories and eliminate irrelevant data.

  • Separating the data into categories can help you know what to expect when you start reading a story.

Analyzing the Stories

Step 1 Read the articles and underline or take notes.

  • Buzzwords, which are terms that come up again and again across different media channels.
  • Bias, which is using emotional appeals to convince readers of something even if the evidence is lacking.
  • Similar portrayals of a story, such as portraying it in a positive or negative light across different media channels.
  • Positioning of the story, such as whether it’s a front-page or prime-time news story.

Tip : The length of the story may also help you to determine its importance. For example, if it's a short story that appears on one page, the news outlet may deem it less important than something that takes up multiple pages.

Step 2 Answer questions about the articles you read.

  • How does the media frame this topic?
  • Who are the spokespeople for the topic and how are they being represented?
  • Are any voices noticeably absent from the articles on this subject?
  • What topics are getting the most coverage within the category?
  • What media outlets are covering this topic?
  • Does coverage seem to peak or drop at certain times of the year?

Step 3 Summarize what you have learned.

  • For example, if you have noted that most news outlets portray your subject using a set of buzzwords and a similar level of bias, then you may describe and discuss these.

Step 4 Identify ways this may help you to introduce your own story.

  • For example, if the sources you consulted all portray a public concern in a similar light, then you might want to adopt this method of framing your topic as well.

Structuring a Media Analysis Essay

Step 1 Compose the executive summary to introduce your analysis.

  • For example, you might begin by saying that your topic is an upcoming election in your community and that you wanted to do a media analysis to determine how to introduce your own story on the topic. Then, you might conclude by saying what media channels have in common in their presentation of this topic.

Step 2 Describe your methodology.

Tip : Make sure to clarify any special terms or details that your readers might not understand in this section as well.

Step 3 Evaluate the topic to determine how the issue is being covered.

  • What aspects of the topic are being covered?
  • What buzzwords do the media channels use?
  • Do the media channels tend to show bias on the subject, and if so, how?

Step 4 Provide the spokesperson analysis.

  • This can help you to determine what types of spokespeople to include in your own article.

Step 5 Transition to the framing analysis to identify archetypes.

  • For example, you might notice that the “hero takes a fall” archetype is used frequently for the articles in your topic area. This might mean that choosing this frame for your story could be beneficial.

Step 6 Give readers your conclusions and recommendations.

  • For example, if you recommend including a business professional, professor, and a member of the community in coverage of a story, cite the data you have collected that shows these spokespeople as the picks for stories on your topic.

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  • ↑ http://www.pointk.org/resources/files/gould_media.pdf
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media analysis sample essay

media analysis sample essay

What Should You Include In Your Media Analysis Essay?

What Should You Include In Your Media Analysis Essay?

If you’re tasked with writing a media analysis essay, it’s important to include the right elements in your essay for a cohesive and well-written piece. What makes an essay good are its elements and structure.

So, whether you’re new to the concept of media analysis or just need a refresher, keep reading for some helpful tips on what you should include in your media analysis essay.  Another option for writing your essay is hiring a professional essay writer to assist you.

What Is Media Analysis?

Media analysis is the process of critiquing and interpreting information from the media in the context of a particular topic. This can be done with any type of media, including but not limited to:

  • Social media posts

Essentially, when you engage in media analysis, you’re looking at the content in the media and critically evaluating it. Now that we’ve discussed what media analysis is, let’s move on to what should be included in a media analysis essay.

What Are the Elements of a Media Analysis Essay?

A clear thesis statement.

When writing any type of essay, it’s important to start with a clear thesis statement. This is especially true for a media analysis essay, as your thesis statement will serve as the foundation for the rest of your paper. 

When crafting your thesis statement, be sure to make it concise and clear. It should also be specific and arguable. An example of a good thesis statement for a media analysis essay might be: “Despite its claim to be an objective news source, The New York Times is biased in its coverage of political issues.”

Evidence to Support Your Thesis Statement

Once you have a clear thesis statement, the next step is to provide evidence to support it. When looking for such evidence, be sure to consider the content of the media along with the context in which it was created. 

For example, if you’re evaluating a news article, you might look at the language used by the author and how it might reflect their personal biases. If you’re analyzing a social media post, you might consider the creator’s history and any previous posts they’ve made on the same topic.

A Discussion of the Implications of Your Analysis

In addition to providing evidence to support your thesis statement, it’s also important to discuss the implications of your analysis. What does your analysis mean for the media piece that you’re critiquing? 

For example, if you’re arguing that a news article is biased, what implications does this have for the readers of that article? Are they getting an accurate portrayal of the events that are taking place?

A Conclusion

Last but not least, don’t forget to include a conclusion in your media analysis essay. Your conclusion should briefly summarize the main points of your essay and reinforce your thesis statement. It’s also a good idea to end with a call to action, or some food for thought, encouraging your readers to further engage with the topic you’ve discussed.

What Are the Steps in Writing a Media Analysis Essay?

Now that we’ve gone over what should be included in a media analysis essay, let’s discuss the steps involved in writing one.

Choose Your Topic

The first step is to choose a topic for your essay. You can write a media analysis essay on any topic. However, it’s important to choose a topic that you’re interested in and familiar with. This will make the research and writing process much easier.

Find Media Sources to Analyze

Once you’ve chosen your topic, it’s time to find some media sources to analyze. If you’re writing about a specific event, you might look for articles from different news outlets. If you’re critiquing a particular advertisement, you might look for similar ads from other companies. It’s important to try to find a variety of sources so that you can get a well-rounded view of the issue at hand.

Evaluate the Sources

After you’ve gathered your sources, it’s time to start evaluating them. This involves reading and evaluating the content of your sources, as well as looking at the context in which they were created. Be sure to take detailed notes during this process so that you can easily refer back to them later.

Craft Your Thesis Statement

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to start working on your thesis statement. This is the main argument of your essay, so it’s important that it be clear and well-developed.

Write Your Essay

This is the final step of writing the essay and is often the trickiest. This is especially true if you’re new to writing, as you might struggle to put your thoughts into words coherently. This is where an experienced freelance essay writer, like those available for hire on Guru, might come in handy.

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Media Analysis Essay Examples

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