3.1 Overview
3.2 Study Components
3.3 Methodology
3.4 National / political front pages
3.5 Lead story pages
3.6 Site profiles
3.7 Top line results

Submitted by:
A.M. Burton

Submitted to:
School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada),

in part completion of the requirements for the

Master of Journalism

September 2000

:: Research Base



3.1 Overview

This study is an attempt to quantify the state of online political news in Canada during a period of relatively intense political activity.

Accepting that Internet technology does possess the potential to enhance the communication processes that are integral to democracy by making more information available to voters at lower cost, the challenge then becomes to quantify whether or not it is actually doing so.

Given the extremely limited amount of Canadian research on this subject to date, this study is offered as a very humble first attempt to quantify Canadian online news content and determine if or how it differs from the political news offered by the traditional media. For the purposes of this study, online Canadian news is compared to that found in a sample group of Canadian newspapers.

This study is also a preliminary attempt to identify weaknesses in the current Canadian online political news market.

The key findings of this study lend support to the conclusion that the Internet on its own does not yet offer a comprehensive alternative to the traditional media. Specifically:

  • The Canadian Press newswire dominates online political news content in Canada.
  • With certain exceptions, content on newspaper Web sites essentially mirrors that found in their printed editions.
  • Journalists are actually less likely to receive credit for their work when it is published online.
  • Most Canadian online national and political front pages do not maximize their use of the unique features of the Internet.
  • With certain exceptions, Canadian audio and video content is virtually absent from Canadian online political news.
  • Newspapers provide more and better quality visual content (i.e. photographs) than can be found online.
  • With certain exceptions, meaningful interactivity is virtually absent from most Canadian news Web sites.

The findings of this study were derived from monitoring a sample of 10 online news Web sites at a pivotal moment in Canadian politics, first ballot voting in the leadership of Canada's newly renamed right-wing political party, the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance.

The study included four newspaper Web sites, one broadcast Web site, four Canadian Internet portal sites, and one independent political Web site. Unlike the American study on which this research was modeled, we were unable to include any Canadian online political news magazines to monitor because there are none that are updated for breaking news.

Ultimately, based on this and other ongoing research, the goal of PoliticsWatch.com is to develop a Canadian political portal offering reliable, well-sourced, well-crafted online political journalism, integrated with the unique interactive features of the Internet. 

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Section 3
Politics Watch Study

Section 4

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