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



3.2 Components of the Study

This study centers on a major political news event, that is first ballot voting in the race for leadership of Canada's newly renamed right-wing party, the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance (formerly known as the Reform Party of Canada).

This study examined four days surrounding first ballot voting in the leadership race: Friday June 23, 2000, (the opening day of the convention); Saturday, June 24, 2000, (voting day); Sunday, June 25, (the day after); and Monday, June 26, 2000 (the first business day following the vote).

The leadership convention was held in Calgary, Alberta, but given the one-member one-vote method of choosing the leader of the new party, voting actually took place across Canada.

Two elements were studied for each web site: the national or political news front page and the lead Canadian Alliance related news story.

The National / Political Front Page

In those cases where a Web site offered a political news front page, that page was bookmarked for downloading during the study. The ability to bookmark the political front page was the significant criterion in determining what page within a site was to be studied. Where there was no bookmarkable political front page on a site, the national news front page was bookmarked for study.

The front pages of the 10 selected online news providers were downloaded for study three times daily, at 9:00, 14:00 and 21:00. The pages were first examined for their Canadian Alliance leadership related stories: the number of stories, how prominently they were featured and whether the leadership related content on the front page had been updated since the previous download.

Next, the ways in which the front pages integrated the unique features of the Internet were assessed. This included evaluating the presence of interactive elements such as audience polls, chat rooms, quizzes and other creative tools. The number of links to audio or video and the number of photos were also tabulated.

The Lead Story

The top ranked leadership related-story on each front page was downloaded for coding three times daily. The lead story variables examined included whether the story lead had been edited or replaced since the previous download, as well as the source of the story and whether a journalist was given credit for the story.

As with the front pages, the presence of features unique to the Internet in the lead story were coded. Specifically, were there interactive elements such as discussion groups, polls or quizzes? Were there photos, links to audio or video? Were there links to other news stories, candidates' home pages or party policy sites?

Content related variables such as the number of cited sources, what triggered each story and the topics of the stories were also examined. However, given the homogeneity of the coverage, both in print and online, those results will not be discussed here.

Control Group

A control group consisting of Canada's three largest circulation daily newspapers was monitored throughout the study period. While the sample size was not large enough to be statistically significant, the control group offered a basis for assessing the alternatives politically interested news consumers could access during this politically interesting weekend.

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Section 2

Section 3
Politics Watch Study

Section 4

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