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

PoliticsWatch - A Qualitative and Quantitative Review of Canadian Online Political News



3.3  Methodology

Inclusion and Screening

Ten Internet news Web sites were monitored for four days at the climax of the Canadian Alliance leadership race, June 23 - 26, 2000.

The print version of Canada's three largest circulating newspapers (Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and National Post) were monitored as a control group.

The first day of monitoring, Friday, June 23, 2000, was selected to coincide with the opening day of the leadership convention in Calgary, Alberta. Candidates made final speeches to party members that evening. The following day, Saturday, June 24, 2000, was first ballot voting day. Sunday, June 25, was the first opportunity for analysis and assessment of the voting results. Monday, June 26, 2000 was the first day of the traditional newspaper news cycle following the vote (two of the newspapers in the control group did not have Sunday editions).

Each day of the study, the sites were downloaded three times, based roughly around the average workday. Download sessions began at 9:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. Each download session took between 30 and 45 minutes.

The Web sites were selected to develop a sample of Canadian political news offered on the Internet today. Most of the Web sites monitored were selected, at least in part, based on their ranking on the CyberAtlas compilation of the Top 50 Canadian Sites of March 2000. Other sites were selected based on their established presence as dominant sources of Canadian national political news. These sites include both Internet portals and sites affiliated with traditional media. Prescreening determined a reasonable expectation of finding up-to-date Canadian political news on these sites. Unlike comparable U.S. studies, the researcher was hard pressed to find online newsmagazines or other Web sites featuring Canadian political content unique to the Internet. Bourque Newswatch was included for this reason.

The Web sites included in this studied were:

For more information about each Web site, please refer to the Web site profiles.

The control group consisted of Canada's three largest circulating daily newspapers:

  • Toronto Star (print version - control
  • The Globe and Mail (print version - control)
  • National Post (print version - control)

The news front page or political front page (where applicable) of each site was defined as the front page for this study. A political front page was only considered the front page if it could be accessed by a bookmark. Each front page and lead story was captured, saved to a disk and printed out for coding.

The print newspaper sample consisted of all news stories related to the Canadian Alliance leadership race contained in the front section of each print source, excluding the opinions and editorial pages. Broadcast media were not included in this study due to limited technical and financial resources at the disposal of the researcher.


The researcher worked with a detailed, standardized coding scheme. All pages were first coded for basic inventory variables such as source, date and download time. Then, front pages were coded for content variables such as number of stories, original reporting, interactive elements, links to external sites and feature stories. Next, the lead Canadian Alliance story on each front page was coded, first for content (number of sources, general topic, changes in lead story). For additional details regarding coding, please refer to the coding sheet.

Please note, the methodology and coding process for this study was modeled on the Committee of Concerned Journalists study entitled "ePolitics: A Study of the 2000 Presidential Campaign on the Internet," released April 10, 2000. This study can be found online at http://www.journalism.org/epolitics.html.

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Politics Watch Study

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