A Reflection on the Year and Research Plans for the Future

As the semester comes to a close I have been reflecting on my first year as a SNaPP lab RA. I can certainly say that my experience in the lab has provided me with an incredible skill set that will surely come in handy throughout the rest of college but also in the real world. I collected data for the Obamacare Team, and have learned how to wade databases to find important information. I have developed a working knowledge of R that I will continue to build on. I have written a grant proposal, and developed my own unique research project. In addition to these tangible results, I have noticed myself developing better analytical and problem solving skills. Working in the lab has provided a wealth of opportunities to learn in a unique hands on way that adds allows me to learn by doing.

I also began work on my individual project this semester. My project aims to explore the relationship between bias newspaper coverage of the ACA and the corresponding newspaper readership’s ideology. Because of the generous funding from the Charles Center I will be able to continue work on my project throughout the summer! I will also be helping the Social Anxiety Team this summer by helping proctor their lab experiment. Overall, I have developed numerous new skill sets because of the SNaPP lab and this summer promises to an invaluable opportunity to get my hands dirty in a project that I have developed on my own! Below I have put a copy of my working abstract for my summer research project. I will continue to blog about my summer research experience on the Charles Center Summer Research Blog.

Working Abstract for Summer Research:

I will be studying the relationship between biased local newspaper coverage, and the political ideology of newspaper readerships. I will aim to answer the question: does biased local newspaper coverage of ideologically contentious legislation correlate with an ideologically biased newspaper readership? To explore this question, I will analyze newspaper coverage of the Affordable Care Act in California, Texas, and Florida. Using original data collected from newspaper articles written in August 2009 (the height of the healthcare debate) covering the Affordable Care Act, I will analyze the recurrence of ideologically charged key words. An abundance of specific ideologically biased keywords in an article will indicate the ideological biases of the publishing newspaper. Examples of these keywords are “ration” and “public option.” Throughout the healthcare debate, conservatives have emphasized the potential “rationing” of healthcare, while liberals have avoided the term because of its negative connotation. Therefore “ration” will likely appear more in conservative newspapers, aiming to highlight problems with the ACA and promote a conservative argument. The same concept applies to the keyword “public option,” a frequent element of the liberal argument in support of the ACA.

After determining the ideological biases of specific newspapers in Texas, California, and Florida, I will focus on understanding the relationship between these newspapers and the ideology of their readerships. I will analyze readership ideology by using local election results and DW nominate scores for representatives with districts that overlap with the readership area. By analyzing a liberal (CA), conservative (TX), and moderate (FL) state, I will better understand the relationship between local newspaper ideology and readership ideology across the American political spectrum.

 

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About wjevans01

Will is a Sophomore at William & Mary. He plans to pursue a degree in either Government or Public Policy. This is his first year doing research. He is currently working with Professor Settle on the project concerning newspaper and online discourse regarding the Affordable Care Act. Will is primarily interested in how political opinion is formed by the general public and how these opinions shape the actions of voters. Outside of the lab, Will plays on the William & Mary Men's Ultimate Team, tutors local elementary school students through College Partnership for Kids, and is actively involved in William & Mary's Intervarsity chapter.