Sunday, October 13, 2013

URSP Student Lyndse Hokanson Researches How Language Can be a Powerful Tool in Creating Special People out of Ordinary People

     Since I was little, I’ve been a sports buff. I love sports, all sports, and my goal for the longest time has been to pursue a career in which I get to be around them all the time. For me, that path has taken shape in the career of sports journalism. Since this has been my passion for as long as I can remember, when the scandal with Lance Armstrong erupted this past year I was particularly taken aback by the marked fall from grace that he experienced. The question that instantly arose in my head was not the distance that he fell, but rather how on earth he got so high to begin with. For me, that answer has pointed to the work of the sports media.

     My project is focused on how language can be a powerful tool in creating something special out of everyday people. Of particular interest to me is the employment so frequently of the hero archetype, especially in the case of Lance Armstrong. So, in the first part of my research journey, beginning last semester, I began background research on the creation of the hero archetype, including everything from the characteristics of a hero, to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. From these varying dimensions, I have formed classifications of roles, characteristics, and actions that are consistent with the creation of heroes. In my plan to do a content analysis of articles from national news sources from the years that Armstrong won the Tour de France a record 7 times (1999-2005), I am planning on coding these articles searching for these particular features.

     The current step in the process that I am working on is compiling all of the articles from the 5 selected news sources that I am using (The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and Sports Illustrated) in order to generate a random sample of close to 75 articles for examination. My plan is to do a preliminary coding to ensure that my coding categories are exclusive and exhaustive.

     This week has proven particularly beneficial in teaching me the importance of thorough searching through a database. When you are sifting through 7 years worth of news articles looking for ones that fit the parameters of your particular study, it can become easy to lose focus and overlook articles here and there. In this sense, I have learned what great patience and caution researching requires.