October 27, 2004

The Debate Effect

The Internet

The study also reviewed stories over the two weeks from the three most popular websites for news-CNN.com, MSNBC, and Yahoo, according to NielsenNet ratings.

Of these 236, it is clear that wire copy dominates the content. Between the Associated Press (41%) and Reuters (9%), half of all stories from these sites are accounted for.

Only one out of every ten stories is written by a bylined staff journalist; another 5% are credited to a combination of staff and wire services. The remaining stories are presented as in-house wire stories (21%), or are drawn from a variety of other wire services (14%).

Sourcing of Campaign Stories on Online News Sites
 
ALL INTERNET
CNN.COM
MSNBC
YAHOO
         
Staff/Byline
9%
6%
28
1%
In-house Wire
21
55
9
0
Combo
5
2
17
0
 
AP Wire
41
34
19
59
Reuters
9
3
5
17
Other Wire
15
0
22
23
 
100
100
100
100

The dependence on wire, however, is not equal among the three sites. Both CNN.com and MSNBC are connected to full-scale newsgathering organizations. In the case of CNN.com, this is reflected in the large percentage of stories produced by staffers reworking wire copy (55%). For MSNBC, staff bylines are attached to more than a quarter (28%) of all stories.

While both of those sites show a heavy dependence on Reuters and AP (37% CNN and 25% MSNBC), they also make frequent use of their own staff, either reworking copy from others or producing their own unbylined material. In particular, more than half (55%) of the stories on CNN.com were non-bylined but attributed to CNN staff.

Yahoo is not a newsgathering organization in the traditional sense. Rather, it repackages news for presentation to the online reader. Three-quarters of the stories from the Yahoo site originated from either the A.P. or Reuters (76%). Staff bylines are essentially non-existent within theYahoo environment. Instead, Yahoo draws upon a variety of additional wire services for content (23%).

Given this repetition, the Internet sites were not coded on the detailed variables of topic, tone, frame or impact and are not included in the totals. Instead, this quantification is provided as a point of information regarding the 2004 Presidential campaign and internet-based news sites.