Policy Sciences

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 205–231

Merging content analysis and the policy sciences: A system to discern policy-specific trends from news media reports

  • Dave Howland
  • Mimi Larsen Becker
  • Lawrence J. Prelli
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11077-006-9016-5

Cite this article as:
Howland, D., Becker, M.L. & Prelli, L.J. Policy Sci (2006) 39: 205. doi:10.1007/s11077-006-9016-5


In this article we set out to bridge a surprising methodological gap between two time-honored research traditions – news media content analysis and the policy sciences analytic framework. Lasswell, a recognized pioneer of both the method and the framework, discussed the mutual benefits of each decades ago. But few researchers, if any, have formally linked the two. To that end, in this article we (1) make the case for using news media content analysis to inform research studies using the policy sciences analytic framework; (2) introduce an original content analysis categorical system for that purpose; (3) demonstrate that system with a study of 90 national news articles about the stratospheric ozone hole; and (4) compare our system to others used to examine news content. We report that our system, used by human coders, is well geared to describing and mapping trends in the social process surrounding the development of the Montreal Protocol ozone treaty during the intelligence gathering and promotion phases encompassed by our data sample. We argue that other content analysis systems fall short – in structure and purpose – of meeting the promise ours holds to the policy scientist.

News media Montreal Protocol Policy sciences Content analysis Environmental policy Ozone hole 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dave Howland
    • 1
  • Mimi Larsen Becker
    • 2
  • Lawrence J. Prelli
    • 3
  1. 1.Natural Resources and Earth System Science Ph.D. ProgramUniversity of New HampshireNew HampshireUSA
  2. 2.Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, Department of Natural ResourcesUniversity of New HampshireNew HampshireUSA
  3. 3.Department of CommunicationUniversity of New HampshireNew HampshireUSA

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