Representation of actors and sources (Technology Coverage)




sources, journalistic selection, framing analysis, discourse analysis


Analyzing which actors or sources are cited in the news media coverage allows for carving out different perspectives that are represented in the media coverage. Studies thus analyze which types of actors are cited by journalists to what extent. In technology coverage, actors from the domain of science, politics, NGOs, industry and citizens are often mentioned.


Field of application/theoretical foundation:

The analysis of the representation of actors is based on the assumption that journalists choose actors as sources purposefully and thereby attribute relevance to them. Those actors cited in the journalistic coverage have more opportunities to present their arguments and are thus more visible in the public discourse. Actors are also analyzed within framing analysis (Entman, 1993) and analyses of discourses in various domains.


Example studies:

Metag & Marcinkowski (2014); Nisbet & Lewenstein (2002)


Information on Metag & Marcinkowski, 2014

Authors: Julia Metag, Frank Marcinkowski

Research question/research interest: “Does the concept of a journalistic negativity bias apply to the media coverage of nanotechnology?”

Object of analysis: German speaking daily newspapers: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Tagesanzeiger, Standard, Presse

Time frame of analysis: 2000-2009


Information on Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002

Authors: Matthew C. Nisbet, Bruce V. Lewenstein

Research question/research interest: trends in media coverage of biotechnology

Object of analysis: New York Times and Newsweek

Time frame of analysis: 1970-1999


Information about variable



Variable name/definition

Level of analysis


Scale level


Metag & Marcinkowski (2014)

the three most prominent actors cited




  • scientists
  • economic actors
  • journalists



Nisbet & Lewenstein (2002)

featured actors (up to 2 actors per article)


  • government affiliated
  • general (the public, the media)
  • science or medicine
  • industry
  • other interests

(in addition: further subcategories)


intercoder reliability for two groups (Team A: r = .43; Team B: r = 48)



Metag, Julia; Marcinkowski, Frank (2014): Technophobia towards emerging technologies? A comparative analysis of the media coverage of nanotechnology in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. In: Journalism 15(4), 463-481.

Nisbet, Matthew C.; Lewenstein, Bruce V. (2002): Biotechnology and the American Media. The Policy Process and the Elite Press, 1970 to 1999. In: Science Communication 23 (4), 359–391.


Further References

Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43, 51-­58.



How to Cite

Gurr, G., & Metag, J. (2021). Representation of actors and sources (Technology Coverage). DOCA - Database of Variables for Content Analysis.



News/Journalism: Variables for Content Analysis