Using Computer Learning Tools to Compare Media Content 

By Sarah Oates and Abby Jones


This presentation focuses on a project using QDA Miner, as well as other computer-assisted learning tools, to discover how Russian propaganda narratives resonated in the U.S. news during the 2020 elections. Primarily, the project focuses on “Russophobia,” a concept pushed by the Russians, stating that Americans unfairly denigrate and fear Russia. The QDA Miner system allows for efficient and illuminating identification of this and other narratives.

Dr. Sarah Oates is a scholar in the field of political communication and democratization. A major theme in her work is the way in which the traditional media and the internet can support or subvert democracy in places as diverse as Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Oates also is the research director for the college and an affiliate professor in the UMD Department of Communication. Oates has published many books, articles, chapters and papers on topics including how the internet can challenge dictatorship, how election coverage varies in different countries and how national media systems cover terrorism in distinctive ways. Before embarking on her academic career, Oates was a journalist who published in outlets ranging from the Orlando Sentinel to The New York Times. She has lived, studied and worked in Scotland and Russia. You can follow her on Twitter @media_politics. She frequently comments on politics for the BBC.

Dr. Abby Jones is the CEO and Founder, AJ RESEARCH. She is a Provalis Research trainer, educator and consultant. Abby has extensive experience in qualitative text analysis and has hosted several Lunch and Learn events.