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



3.4  National and Political Front Pages

Number of Stories

At first glance, Web sites offered by traditional Canadian print news media as well as Internet portal sites appeared to offer a considerable amount of news about first ballot voting in the Canadian Alliance leadership race. In 22.7 percent of downloads there were 9 or more leadership race related stories on the front page.

Yahoo.ca had a political front page devoted entirely to the leadership race and therefore had more than nine stories in every download. The Yahoo.ca page was the only real example of meta-journalism in this study, meaning it had links to stories from across media, including audio, video, wire and print. Most other sites featured content from a single news organization.

Canoe.ca and Excite.ca also had nine or more stories in half of all downloads. At the other end of the spectrum, CBC.ca consistently offered only one Canadian Alliance story on the front page per download. Consequently, aol.ca, whose news front page was the CBC.ca front page stripped of the audio and video links, also featured only one leadership story per download.

In all three downloads on Friday June 22, the NationalPost.com had no Canadian Alliance leadership related stories on the front page, despite having several stories on it's political front page. However, because the political front page of the NationalPost.com Web site could not be bookmarked, stories on that page could not be considered in this study.

Overall there was only one story on the front page in 29.4 per cent of downloads and four or more stories on the front page almost half the time (47.9 per cent).

Front Page Changes

Front pages were well maintained throughout the study period. In 53.8 per cent of downloads the front page was either completely new, had been edited to include more stories or had some new stories with the same overall number of stories.

In 30.3 per cent of downloads there was no change at all to the front page. NationalPost.com and TheStar.com account for many of the instances in which there was no change due to the fact that their front pages generally featured all new content each morning and then remained static throughout the day, similar to the news cycle of the printed newspapers from which their content is derived.

Story Ranking

First ballot voting dominated Canadian news the weekend of June 22 to June 24, 2000. A Canadian Alliance leadership story ranked first on national / political news front pages in 62.2 per cent of downloads and second in a further 16.8 per cent of downloads.

In those cases where the lead leadership story ranked lower than first, it was second only to Zimbabwe's crucial parliamentary elections. As well, on Monday June 26, the announcement that an international team of scientists had completed mapping of the human genome also bumped the Canadian Alliance leadership first ballot voting, now a 36 hour-old story, out of first ranking.

CBC.ca and Excite.ca were most likely not to rank a Canadian Alliance story first. Yahoo.ca always had a Canadian Alliance story first because of its dedicated front page.


One of the most surprising findings about national / political front pages concerned photos. They were relatively absent.

In 78.2 per cent of downloads, the front pages contained no photos. In only 2.5 per cent of cases were there more than one photo on the front page, despite considerable media attention related to the youth, athleticism and photogenaity of candidate Stockwell Day.

The print media sources monitored provided a far more meaningful visual representation of the weekend convention, with 70 per cent of the newspapers in the control group having five or more photographs.

Excite.ca, Yahoo.ca, aol.ca and the Bourque Newswatch site never had a photo, editorial cartoon or other visual image on the front page.

Sympatico.ca, on the other hand featured a photo on the front page in 75.0 per cent of downloads. Judging by the consistently observed layout of the Sympatico.ca front page, it may in fact be site policy to run one photograph with each of the top ranked stories wherever possible.

NationalPost.com and TheStar.com featured Canadian Alliance related photographs on the front page in 50.0 per cent of downloads. In one case, TheStar.com featured four photographs on the front page, mirroring the Toronto Star's print edition from the same day.


Generally, the Web sites monitored in this study fared poorly in terms of interactivity, with 55.6 per cent of front page downloads having no interactive elements whatsoever.

The Internet portal sites led the pack in terms of interactivity on front pages. Canoe.ca, Yahoo.ca and Sympatico.ca offered online news users the most interactive front pages, featuring discussion groups, audience polls, or in some cases both. Excite.ca featured a long-running audience poll on a Canadian Alliance related topic.

Of the Web sites offered by the traditional media, only TheGlobeandMail.com offered any interactive features on the front page, but they were only related to the Canadian Alliance in 50 per cent of cases. NationalPost.com and TheStar.com did not offer any interactive featured on the front page.

Audio and Video

Front pages offering links to Canadian Alliance related audio or video material were also very rare.

Only the meta-journalistic Yahoo.ca consistently provided five or more audio or video links on their Canadian Alliance front page, surprisingly more that CBC.ca, which generally only provided one or two audio or video links on the front page.

The remainder of the sites provided no audio or video links whatsoever, accounting for 81. 5 per cent of downloads. 

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