April 4, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith - Anatomy of a Feeding Frenzy

Methodology

The data for this study was collected as part of PEJ’s Weekly News Coverage Index. The Weekly Index is a thorough content analysis study of the topics that the media choose to cover every week. The universe for the Index is made up of 48 media outlets that come from newspapers, network television, cable television, online news sites, and radio. A team of trained coders captures and analyzes each of the outlets and the segments of those outlets we code as a purposive sample of the larger media universe. The coding for the Index follows a rigorous standard which is detailed in its methodology.

The unit of analysis for PEJ’s coding is the “article” or “story.” A story is coded as being about Anna Nicole Smith if 50% or more of that story refers to her situation.

The time period for this report begins at 3 P.M. ET, February 8, 2007, when Anna Nicole Smith’s death was announced in the news, to the day of her funeral, March 2, 2007. Thus, for February 8, the morning newspapers, morning network television shows, mid-day cable television programs, and radio programs airing before 3:00 are not included in the February 8 statistics since they were published or aired prior to the announcement of her death. 

In three instances, this Special Report adds to or slightly differs from the data collected for the Weekly News Index.

1. For the television shows that were noted in this study but are not part of PEJ’s regular Index, specifically CNN’s Larry King Live, Fox News’ On the Record with Great Van Susteren and the second half-hour of the PBS NewsHour, we conducted searches of their content using the transcripts available on the LexisNexis computer database.

2. Also special to this report, the commercial network newscasts are analyzed together as a unit and PBS separately. This was done in order to compare the network evening and morning news coverage. 

3. For tracking stories about the Iraq War, on a weekly basis we code stories for one of three storylines regarding the war: the Iraq policy debate, events on the ground in Iraq, and of the U.S. homefront relating to the Iraq War. For the statistics in this report that relate to coverage of the Iraq War as a whole, we added the total of those three storylines together to get the overall Iraq War coverage statistics.