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Inductive Analysis of Media Narrative Regarding 2020 George Floyd Protests in Minnesota

My project aims to examine how two newspapers in the Twin Cities covered the George Floyd Protests of 2020, and how that coverage changed over time. As a resident of Minnesota, I was at the epicenter of these events, and they had a marked impact on my interests and plans going forward. These protests inspired my choice of major and future field, and I wanted my final project to reflect the impact they’ve had on me. Given the prevalence of research regarding the origin and outcome of these events, I found a niche that allowed me to examine them from a new angle.

My project itself centers around two newspapers, both locally distributed in the Twin Cities, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Using these papers, I aimed to determine how the actors present, namely the protesters, the police, and city or state officials, were narratively presented, and how that presentation changed over time or differed between papers. To this end, I read every article containing the words “George Floyd” and “Protest” between two set dates and, using an inductive scheme I created as I read, coded each for the presence of certain words or phrases I deemed to be representative of defined perspective.

Collating this data has shown me that both papers marched in rough lockstep through June, where their coverage began to differ. Namely, the Pioneer Press, a more conservative outlet, leaned heavily into covering property crime and portraying the protesters as criminal, while the Star Tribune began to center their coverage on the positive changes brought to the city. Using this research, I hope to advance the larger retrospective on these events by providing a methodology that can be applied to other media outlets, and can be referenced for other cities.