Research Design

Case Studies, News Media, Political Positions and Methods
  • Gary James MerrillEmail author


The primary purpose of this book is to analyse the exposure and credence given by the British news media to different interpretations of the economic environment in the decade before the 2008 Financial Crisis. By employing two complementary research methods, it assesses the coverage given to disparate political narratives in three different contexts by four different news organisations over a ten-year period. This chapter covers the research design. First, it explains the choice of case studies (economic globalisation, private finance in British public services, and Tesco) and the news media (the BBC, the Times-Sunday Times, the Daily/Sunday Telegraph and the Guardian-Observer). The bulk of the chapter is devoted to three contextualising sections, one for each of the case studies, which outline the competing arguments and narratives evident in mediated debates. The final section describes the methodology and explains how the political content of news was assessed through a combination of quantitative content analysis and critical discourse analysis.


  1. Ainamo, A., Tienari, J., & Vaara, E. (2006). Between West and East: A Social History of Business Journalism in Cold War Finland. Human Relations, 59, 611–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altheide, D. (1996). Qualitative Media Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bakan, J. (2004). The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. Toronto: Viking Canada.Google Scholar
  4. BBC. (1999a, November 30). Protests Overshadow WTO Talks. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed January 23, 2011.
  5. BBC. (1999b, November 1). Hague: Cut Taxes to Prosper. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed January 23, 2011.
  6. BBC. (1999c, November 13). Chinese PM Intervenes in Trade Talks. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed January 24, 2011.
  7. BBC. (2000a, January 31). Supermarket Inquiry Steps Up a Gear. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed November 16, 2011.
  8. BBC. (2000b, October 10). Competition Commission: Findings on Supermarkets. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed November 16, 2011.
  9. BBC. (2002a, September 26). Brown and Prescott Maul the Unions. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed April 20, 2011.
  10. BBC. (2002b, October 1). Blair Backs Foundation Hospitals. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed April 20, 2011.
  11. BBC. (2002c, October 2). Call for Workers’ Job Security. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed April 20, 2011.
  12. BBC. (2002d, October 11). Private Funding Comes Under New Fire. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed April 20, 2011.
  13. BBC. (2002e, October 21). Kelvin Hopkins: Profile. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed April 20, 2011.
  14. BBC. (2002f, September 6). Union Leaders’ Demands. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed May 25, 2011.
  15. BBC. (2003a, February 12). In Depth—Private Profit, Public Gain? BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed June 15, 2011.
  16. BBC. (2003b, February 12). What Are Public Private Partnerships? BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed June 15, 2011.
  17. BBC. (2018). Editorial Guidelines: Impartiality. Retrieved from Accessed April 30, 2018.
  18. BBC Trust. (2012, November 6). Seminar on Impartiality and Economic Reporting. Retrieved from Accessed July 15, 2013.
  19. Bennett, W., Packard, V., Iozzi, D., Schroeder, C., Lagos, T., & Caswell, C. (2004). Managing the Public Sphere: Journalistic Construction of the Great Globalization Debate. Journal of Communication, 54(3), 437–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Bevan, J. (2005). Trolley Wars: The Battle of the Supermarkets. London: Profile Books.Google Scholar
  21. Binyon, M. (1999, November 24). Trade Talks Falter Over EU Farm Subsidies. The Times.Google Scholar
  22. Blair, T. (2002, October 1). Speech to Labour Party Conference. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed April 20, 2011.
  23. Blythman, J. (2007). Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  24. Bradshaw, P. (2006). Film Review: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  25. Budd, A. (2007). Report of the Independent Panel for the BBC Trust on Impartiality of BBC Business Coverage. Retrieved from Accessed January 1, 2010.
  26. Burke, T. (1999, November 23). Trade Talks Sleepwalk to Seattle. The Times.Google Scholar
  27. Competition Commission. (2000, October 10). Supermarkets: A Report on the Supply of Groceries from Multiple Stores in the United Kingdom. Retrieved from Accessed November 16, 2011.
  28. Competition Commission. (2008, April 30). Groceries Market Investigation: Final Report. Retrieved from Accessed May 10, 2010.
  29. Conway, E. (2007, May 8). CBI Urges Brown to Cut Spending Plans. Daily Telegraph.Google Scholar
  30. Corporate Watch. (2004, October). Tesco Plc—A Corporate Profile. Retrieved from Accessed November 18, 2011.
  31. Cronin, J. (2005, April 12). Is Tesco Too Big? BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed January 6, 2012.
  32. Curwen, L. (1999, November 12). The World Trade Organisation: Money Programme. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed January 26, 2011.
  33. Denny, C. (1999, November 3). Short Attacks Aid Agencies. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  34. Economist. (2006, March 11). Why Hospitals Must Be Allowed to Fail.Google Scholar
  35. Eldridge, J. (Ed.). (1995). News Content, Language and Visuals (Glasgow Media Group Reader, Volume 1). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Elliott, L. (1999, December 2). Who Wants What from the Talks? The Guardian.Google Scholar
  37. Elliott, L., & Wintour, P. (2002, September 30). Trust Me on Funding, Says Brown: No Retreat on PFI, Unions Are Warned. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  38. Finch, J. (2006, May 11). Tesco Plans to Be Green and a Good Neighbour. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  39. Fiske, J. (2002). Introduction to Communication Studies. London: Methuen.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Fowler, R. (1991). Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Friends of the Earth (FoE). (2003, February). Briefing: Super Markets or Corporate Bullies? Retrieved from Accessed November 18, 2011.
  42. Friends of the Earth (FoE). (2005, June). Briefing: The Tesco Takeover. Retrieved from Accessed March 17, 2012.
  43. Fürsich, E. (2009). In Defence of Textual Analysis. Journalism Studies, 10(2), 238–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Gavin, N. (2007). Press and Television in British Politics: Media, Money and Mediated Democracy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. GUMG (Glasgow University Media Group). (1980). More Bad News. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Guardian. (2002, October 1). Leader: The PFI Needs a Review: Tony Blair Must Address Party Concerns. The Guardian. Google Scholar
  47. Hansen, A., Cottle, S., Negrine, R., & Newbold, C. (1998). Mass Communication Research Methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hencke, D. (2007, May 15). Sharp Business People Outwitting Whitehall Over PFI Refinancing Deals, Say MPs. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  49. House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts (HCCPA). (2007, May 15). Update on PFI Debt Refinancing and the PFI Equity Market. Retrieved from Accessed May 10, 2010.
  50. Hutton, W. (1999, November 28). On the Eve of Destruction; A New World Trade Organisation Policy Threatens the Very Heart of the National Health Service. The Observer.Google Scholar
  51. Jawara, F., & Kwa, A. (2003). Behind the Scenes at the WTO. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  52. Jha, S. (2007). Exploring Internet Influence on the Coverage of Social Protest: Content Analysis Comparing Protest Coverage in 1967 and 1999. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 84(1), 40–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Juniper, T. (1999, November 17). Planet Profit; Is the WTO in the Pocket of Corporate Power? The Guardian.Google Scholar
  54. Kariithi, N., & Kareithi, P. (2007). It’s Off to Work You Go! A Critical Discourse Analysis of Media Coverage of the Anti-privatisation Strike in South Africa in October 2002. Journalism Studies, 8(3), 465–480.Google Scholar
  55. Matheson, D. (2005). Media Discourses: Analysing Media Texts. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Mesure, S. (2005, April 13). Tesco Powers on to Record Profits—But the Backlash Gets Under Way. The Independent.Google Scholar
  57. Monbiot, G. (2001). Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain. London: Pan Books.Google Scholar
  58. Monbiot, G. (2003). The Age of Consent. London: Perennial.Google Scholar
  59. Monbiot, G. (2007, January 23). If Tesco and Wal-Mart Are Friends of the Earth, Are There Any Enemies Left. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  60. Mortishead, C. (1999, November 24). Seattle Talking Shop Will Set the Agenda for Us All. The Times.Google Scholar
  61. Neil Report. (2004). The BBC’s Journalism After Hutton: The Report of the Neil Report Team. Retrieved from Accessed July 21, 2013.
  62. New Economics Foundation (NEF). (2003, December 15). Ghost Town Britain II: Death on the High Street. Retrieved from Accessed November 18, 2011.
  63. New Statesman. (2003, January 20). How Supermarkets Damage Society. Leader.Google Scholar
  64. Ofcom. (2017, June 29). News Consumption in the UK 2016. Retrieved from Accessed June 18, 2018.
  65. O’Hara, M. (2003, January 25). Store Wars: Who Will Be the Casualties? The Guardian.Google Scholar
  66. Oliver, J. (2007, June 3). How the Planning Laws Were TESCO-ed. Mail on Sunday.Google Scholar
  67. O’Neill, D. (2007). From Hunky Heroes to Dangerous Dinosaurs. Journalism Studies, 8(5), 813–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Osler, D. (2002). Labour Party PLC: New Labour as a Party of Business. Edinburgh: Mainstream.Google Scholar
  69. Paxton, A. (1994). The Food Miles Report: The Dangers of Long-Distance Food Transport. London: The Safe Alliance.Google Scholar
  70. Peet, R. (2003). Unholy Trinity: The IMF, World Bank and WTO. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  71. Philo, G. (2007). Can Discourse Analysis Successfully Explain the Content of Media and Journalistic Practice? Journalism Studies, 8(1), 175–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Philo, G., & Berry, M. (2004). Bad News from Israel. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  73. Pollock, A. (2005). NHS Plc: The Privatisation of Our Health Care. London: Verso Books.Google Scholar
  74. Porter, S., & Raistrick, P. (1998, January). The Impact of Out-of-Town Food Superstores on Local Retail Employment. Nottingham: National Retail Planning Forum.Google Scholar
  75. Purvis, A. (2003, April). Fifty Years Ago, This Pork Chop Would Have Cost You Twice as Much as It Does Now. Observer Food Monthly.Google Scholar
  76. Roberts, D., Halligan, L., Hennessy, P., Watts, R., Pfeifer, S., & Garside, J. (2007, May 6). Does Brown Have a Trick Up His Sleeve? Sunday Telegraph.Google Scholar
  77. Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP). (2007). SNP: It’s Time. Manifesto for Holyrood Elections 2007, p. 19.Google Scholar
  78. Seth, A., & Randall, G. (2005). Supermarket Wars: Global Strategies for Food Retailers. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Simms, A. (2007). Tescopoly: How One Shop Came Out on Top and Why It Matters. London: Constable.Google Scholar
  80. Stewart, H., & Treanor, J. (2003, February 18). Supermarkets Under Fire. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  81. Sunderland, R., Stewart, H., & Wood, Z. (2007, August 26). The Good, the Bad and the FTSE. Observer.Google Scholar
  82. Sustain. (1999, October). Food Miles: Still on the Road to Ruin? Retrieved from Accessed November 19, 2011.
  83. Swinney, J. (2002, September 27). SNP Conference Speech. BBC News Website. Retrieved from Accessed April 20, 2011.
  84. Tesco. (2011a). Annual Report and Financial Statements. Retrieved from Accessed November 16, 2011.
  85. Tesco. (2011b). Corporate Responsibility. Retrieved from Accessed March 13, 2011.
  86. Times. (1999, November 29). Chance in a Millennium. The Times.Google Scholar
  87. Travis, A., & Maguire, K. (2002, September 26). Majority Backs Fire Strikes and Wants PFI Halted. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  88. Unison. (2005, June). Positively Public: Briefing. Retrieved from Accessed May 6, 2011.
  89. Wall, M. (2003). Press Conferences or Puppets: NGOs’ and Street Groups’ Communication in the Battle for Seattle. Javnost: The Public, 10(1), 33–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Wintour, P. (2002, September 10). Beef Up Employment Rights, Says Kennedy: Lib Dems ‘Keener Than Labour’ on Consultation. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  91. Yuen, E. (2002). Introduction. In E. Yuen, G. Katsiaficas, & D. Rose (Eds.), The Battle of Seattle: The New Challenge to Capitalist Globalisation (pp. 215–244). New York: Soft Skull Press.Google Scholar
  92. Zelizer, B. (2009). Journalism and the Academy. In K. Wahl-Jorgensen & T. Hanitzsch (Eds.), The Handbook of Journalism Studies (pp. 29–41). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of RoehamptonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations