Campaign Coverage Index (CCI) Methodology
The Campaign Coverage Index is based on a sub-set of PEJ’s NCI—all stories in a given week that are primarily about the 2008 presidential campaign. For a story to be considered primarily about the presidential campaign, 50% or more of the time or space of the story had to be devoted to coverage of the campaign. PEJ then conducts further analysis of these stories through three additional variables.
The new variables included for the campaign stories were “lead newsmaker,” “significant presence,” and “presidential campaign topic.”
Note: After consulting various reference guides and outside consultants on usage, the Project has chosen to refer to its several weekly content analysis reports as “indexes”—the version largely accepted in journalism—instead of “indices”—a term used more frequently in scientific or academic writing.
Similar to the definition of “lead newsmaker” for NCI, “campaign lead newsmaker” designates the person or group who is the main focus of the story discussed with at least 50% of the story (in time or space). For campaign stories, all individuals or groups who were discussed in 50% or more of the story were counted as lead newsmakers.
In order to track how often specific candidates were a significant presence in a story, but were not the main focus (or “lead newsmaker”), the “significant presence” variable was created. This variable consisted of a checklist of the major presidential candidates from both parties along with other significant figures in the campaign such as Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg. If a person was included in a story for between 25% and 50% (i.e. at least 25% but below 50%) of the time or space of the story, they were coded for having a significant presence in the story. If a person was coded as a “lead newsmaker,” they were automatically also coded for having been a significant presence as well.
“Presidential campaign topic” measures the broad election-related topic, or what the campaign story is about “on its face.” Each broad topic was segmented into several “sub-topic” categories for further specification. These sub-categories included topics such as “domestic policy issues,” “foreign policy issues,” and “political topics.”
This variable was also divided into four categories so that if a story focused primarily on one political party or another, that information could easily be tracked. For a story to be considered primarily focused on one of the two major political parties, 75% or more of that story had to involve the political party. If both parties were significantly discussed, but neither reached a 75% threshold, the story was coded as being a mix of both parties (Democrats and Republicans). If a story was not focused on either of the two major political parties, it was coded as “other.”
The specific levels of agreement for these new variables were as follows:
Campaign lead newsmakers: 92%
Significant presence: 81%
Presidential campaign topic: 83%