::  


SECTION 3

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

SECTION 3

ONLINE POLITICAL NEWS CONVERAGE
A STUDY OF FIRST BALLOT VOTING IN THE CANADIAN ALLIANCE LEADERSHIP RACE (JUNE 22 - 24, 2000)

3.6  Site Profiles

The following is an assessment of each site in this study. The site profiles are based on the findings of the study at the time of the study.

NationalPost.com

This is a site in the midst of evolution. In fact, the site was re-launched Monday June 26, 2000, the last day of the study period. Because of this, results from the NationalPost.com site were somewhat mixed and not necessarily reflective of the typical political news coverage offered by this online version of the National Post.

While the results from the specific study period may be mixed, this is an exciting site to watch. At the time of the study, the National Post newspaper and the NationalPost.com Web site was part of the Southam newspaper chain, owned by Hollinger Inc. Since the time of the study, most Hollinger Inc. media interests have been purchased by CanWest Global television network, including part of the National Post newspaper and the Internet portal site Canada.com which serves as the hub for all Southam newspaper Web sites, including NationalPost.com.

As a result of this new ownership structure, it is not unreasonable to expect NationalPost.com to soon be at the forefront of Internet news sites, converging the visuals of television and the information richness of print in a way that traditional media sites have yet to do.

During the study period, however, political news content on the NationalPost.com Web site generally replicated the content found in the National Post newspaper, a fact that highlights the weakness of transferring the traditional print news cycle to this new medium.

The National Post is known for its political content and in the lead up to the first ballot voting had provided near saturation coverage of the Canadian Alliance leadership race.

However, on voting night, the traditional newspaper news cycle upon which the NationalPost.com obviously relies was evident. At the Saturday 21:00 download, while some other sites were providing up-to-the-minute coverage of voting results as they became available, this site posted a Canadian Press wire story. Wire copy remained the lead Canadian Alliance story on this site until Monday morning, when the newspaper published its next edition.

The NationalPost.com is also a somewhat difficult site to navigate. The political news front page cannot be bookmarked and politically interested news consumers must therefore navigate through the site in order to access specifically political news.

In terms of maximizing use of unique features of the Internet, a strong point of the NationalPost.com story pages was the comprehensive list of links to party, candidate and polling firm sites. This list of links was consistent, generally appearing at the bottom of lead story pages.

TheGlobeandMail.com

Thompson Corp., another giant in Canadian media publishing, owns both The Globe and Mail newspaper and the associated Internet site. Thompson recently divested much of its newspaper holdings, announcing a restructured business plan that places more emphasis on electronic publishing.

Just prior to the study period, the revamped TheGlobeandMail.com Web site was launched. The most significant feature of the new site was that reporters were filing in so-called 'real time'. As a result of this new approach to the news cycle, the results for TheGlobeandMail.com differed significantly from the results for the other newspaper sites with more edited leads and more frequent updates than the other 'old media' sites.

Ongoing updates gave this site the appearance of being far more dynamic than either the NationalPost.com or TheStar.ca whose front pages and lead stories generally did not change at all over the course of the day.

TheGlobeandMail.com also offered more interactive features, including an audience poll and discussion forum, than the other newspaper sites.

TheStar.ca

TheStar.ca came as close as possible to being a digital replication of the print version of a newspaper. The site was as rigidly static as a printed edition of the Toronto Star newspaper, featuring content essentially identical to the print edition. Ironically the print edition actually featured more photos, and thus provided a superior visual image.

Torstar Corp., publisher of the Toronto Star newspaper, hosts TheStar.ca.

CBC.ca/news

CBC.ca is the Web site of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Canada's federally legislated national public broadcaster. At the time of the study, this was the only major news Web site hosted by a Canadian broadcaster.

If we look for a Canadian counterpart to CNN.com, we must look to CBC.ca. This site is the only multimedia Canadian news site, integrating related audio and video material on each story page.

What was troubling about this site was that it accorded no credit whatsoever to the Web journalists who, one would assume, transform audio and video news into written copy for the Web.

Canoe.ca/CNEWSPolitics

Canoe.ca is the Internet property of Quebecor Inc., owner / publisher of the Sun Media chain of daily newspapers as well as numerous French language daily newspapers. However, despite this content rich ownership group, the site curiously featured predominantly wire copy, only rarely featuring a Sun media reporter's story as the lead Canadian Alliance leadership race story.

Canoe.ca does offer a political front page that can be bookmarked. This was the front page monitored for the study.

Excite.ca

The Excite.ca Web portal service is a joint venture of Rogers Media and Excite@Home. Rogers Communications Inc. is one of Canada's major radio and cable television service providers. It is also involved in tele-shopping, publishing and new media businesses ventures through Rogers Media Inc.

The Excite.ca site featured only Canadian Press wire copy. Disappointingly, the site offered no photos and did not credit journalists for their work.

Ca.dailynews.Yahoo.com

Yahoo! Inc. is a global Internet company servicing 120 million users worldwide. Yahoo! caters to a niche market, offering an online navigational guide to the Web. The Yahoo! Canada portal provides Canadian and international content listed by category.

In terms of richness and variety of information on the subject at hand, Yahoo! provided one of the most impressive sites profiled in this study. The site offered a special featured section for the Canadian Alliance leadership race, featuring a page with links to news stories from across media. The site provided many audio and video links.

There were no photographs on the political front page.

The Yahoo! page was the only consistently updated meta-journalism site monitored in this study.

Sympatico.ca/news

Sympatico.ca, a portal site, is a subsidiary of Bell Canada, our country's largest communications company. Sympatico.ca is one of Canada's largest Internet service providers with approximately 650,000 member households. Page views are 100 million a month and 80 per cent of subscribers maintain Sympatico.ca as their default home page.

Sympatico.ca features only Canadian Press wire copy.

aol.ca

AOL Canada Inc. is a strategic alliance between America Online Inc., a world leader in interactive services, and Canada's largest Schedule 1 chartered financial institution, the Royal Bank of Canada. AOL Canada Inc. operates AOL Canada with more than 130,000 subscribing households and CompuServe with approximately 50,000 subscribers, in addition to the Internet portal brand aol.ca, where the news content reviewed for this study was located.

aol.ca mimics the CBC.ca site except devoid of the audio / video links. As with the CBC.ca site, no journalists were credited for their online copy.

achilles.net/~pierre/bmw.html

The final Web site included in this study was Bourque Newswatch, an independent site apparently operated at the whim of a single individual. It was included for two reasons: anecdotal evidence suggests it is monitored regularly by political staff on Parliament Hill and because it is perhaps the only independent Web site that attempts to provide original reporting, that is, reporting that does not originate from traditional media sources.

Bourque Newswatch was one of only two sites (the other being Yahoo!) to even attempt to offer any original content unique to the Internet site.

However, the reporting at this site generally was based on only one source, usually unnamed. This material generally would not be considered journalism by any professional standard.

The site appeared to only be updated at the whim of the Web site operator. For example, over the weekend, during the peak of the voting results returns, the site was not updated at all.

 next section

Research Base
Go direct:

Table of Contents

Section 1


Section 2


Section 3
Politics Watch Study

Section 4
Conclusion

Section 5



 

PoliticsWatch Home  |  News Services  Voter Resources  |  Research Base

© PoliticsWatch® 2004. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PoliticsWatch content, 
including by framing, copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of 
Public Interests Research and Communications Inc. (PIRCINC). PoliticsWatch is registered trademark of PIRCINC.
PoliticsWatch® | Canada's Political Portal™
85 Albert Street, Suite 1502, Ottawa ON K1P 6A4 |  phone: 613.232.0516
news@politicswatch.com  |  Terms of Service, Copyright, Trademarks, and Disclaimers Statement