Creating an Influencer-Relationship Model to Locate Actors in Environmental Communications

  • David Rheams


This chapter describes a method for creating an influencer-relationship model from newspaper articles and illustrates each step required to develop the model. These steps include collecting articles from disparate sources, locating relevant actors in the articles, compiling and querying a MySQL database, and creating visualizations to assist with analysis. Once assembled, the article archive can be searched and modeled to find relationships between people who influence the production of public environmental knowledge. My area of focus is environmental communications regarding groundwater debates in Texas. The chapter focuses on public communications about groundwater during drought years in Texas (2010–2014) as a case study. It concludes with a few thoughts on how to improve the method.


  1. Berelson, Bernard, and Paul Lazarsfeld. Content Analysis in Communications Research. New York: Free Press, 1946.Google Scholar
  2. Boykoff, Maxwell T., and Jules M. Boykoff. “Balance as Bias: Global Warming and the US Prestige Press.” Global Environmental Change 14, no. 2 (2004): 125–136. Scholar
  3. Dörk, Marian, Christopher Collins, Patrick Feng, and Sheelagh Carpendale. “Critical InfoVis: Exploring the Politics of Visualization.” In CHI’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, edited by Wendy E. Mackay and Association for Computing Machinery. New York: ACM, 2013.
  4. Drucker, Johanna. “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 5, no. 1 (2011).
  5. Ekström, Mats. Epistemologies of TV Journalism. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism 3, no. 3 (2002): 259–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fry, Ben. Visualizing Data. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2008.Google Scholar
  7. Krippendorff, Klaus. Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2004.Google Scholar
  8. Macnamara, J. “Media Content Analysis: Its Uses, Benefits and Best Practice Methodology.” Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal 6, no. 1 (2005): 1–34.Google Scholar
  9. Merriam, Sharan B., and Elizabeth J. Tisdell. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2016.Google Scholar
  10. Moretti, Franco. Distant Reading. London, New York: Verso, 2013.Google Scholar
  11. Otty, Lisa, and Tara Thomson. “Data Visualization in the Humanities.” In Research Methods for Creating and Curating Data in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matt Hayler and Gabriele Griffin. Research Methods for the Arts and Humanities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  12. Rosenstiel, Tom, Amy Mitchell, Kristen Purcell, and Lee Rainier. “How People Learn About Their Local Community.” Pew Research Center, 2011.
  13. Saldaña, Johnny. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. 3rd ed. Los Angeles, CA and London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC: Sage, 2016.Google Scholar
  14. Stemler, Steve. “An Overview of Content Analysis.” Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation 7, no. 17 (2001).
  15. Tufte, Edward R. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. 2nd ed. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  16. ———. Beautiful Evidence. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  17. ———. Envisioning Information. Fourteenth printing. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  18. Weber, Robert Philip. Basic Content Analysis. 2nd ed. Sage University Papers Series, no. 07-049. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Rheams
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

Personalised recommendations