Research Post at DCU – Climate Change and Irish Media

The research assistant position below may be of interest to media/ semiotic analysis students:

Researcher required for comprehensive analysis of climate change in Irish media

Research Assistant Salary of €25,668 for nine months

Climate change science unambiguously points towards a global challenge of enormous proportions and the immediate requirement for sustained action. However, it is clear that significant work on establishing a scientific consensus together with substantial education and public communication has not produced salience for institutions or individuals. In addition, to date, there has been no major scholarly study into media coverage of climate change in Ireland. An RTÉ Audience Council (Cullinane and Watson, 2014) report found that media coverage is “low and sporadic”, and that the volume of text news stories referring to climate change or global warming in RTÉ News online articles has fallen precipitously since 2010, to just over a third of those recorded over the three preceding years.

A new study funded through the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  addresses the question of content and discourse in Ireland’s reporting of climate change. The co-Principal Investigators are Dr Padraig Murphy and Dr Jane Suiter of DCU.

The research will speak to the framing, to the dynamics of journalistic norms and the structural constraints of reporting, including through image and use of textual motifs. It will employ content and critical discourse analyses methods, informed by framing, semiotics and image analysis. The study will also offer recommendations on media reporting guidelines.

Using qualitative and quantitative techniques on the media elements captured – such as framing, sentiment, semiotic Q-method analysis – we will examine perspectives and understandings of the complex and abstract phenomenon of climate change. Following a ‘big data’ gathering exercise combining newspaper, websites, blogs, broadcast and social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,  ‘searchable talk’, the study at issue here is content-focused but also qualitative.

Within the two-year, interdisciplinary project, three broad elements of media are addressed: 1) How do various media frame climate, and what conflicts or tensions arise?  2) What discourses dominate Irish media on climate change; which actors/discourses are hidden, where are the constraints and cultural influences?   3) In what way are images utilised?  This may be undertaken through a variety of content and discourse analysis methods including framing, discourse, linguistic and semiotic analysis, as well as critical methods on word and image. The Research Assistant should be demonstrably proficient in at least one and preferably more of these methods. The media platforms will include broadcast, print and social media,  gathered using state-of-the-art Big Data techniques.

The research assistant may have a background from one of various social science disciplines (e.g. communications, politics, sociology/sociolinguistics, economics). They will contribute to a mapping of  patterns of communication and of journalistic framing, but also aid in quantitative comparative analysis. They will also have the opportunity to develop research in the context of an ambitious, interdisciplinary project. There will be opportunities for all team members to co-author conference papers and academic publications.

Applicants must have at least a first degree at 2:1 or higher, and ideally should have achieved, or be working towards, a postgraduate qualification in a social science area relevant to the project (e.g. communications, politics, sociology/sociolinguistics, economics). We also encourage applicants who are not presently working towards a postgraduate qualification but who can demonstrate equivalent experience and/or aptitude for research in their field. Preference will be given to candidates who have some experience in one (or more) the types of analysis outlined above. Please apply with CV and relevant details by 18 December 2014.