To conduct a meaningful assessment of the national news media content available to the public on election night, we studied a wide range of media outlets and programs available during that time. Eight distinct categories of news outlets were studied: online aggregators, Newspaper Web sites, network news Web sites, blogs, political Web sites, radio, broadcast television and cable television.
Overall, 32 different news outlets were captured and monitored.
Online Aggregators: We included the three top-rated news aggregators
Blogs: We included six of the top-rated stand-along news blogs, according to Technorati:
Network News-based Web sites: We included all of national TV and radio Web sites—which is six in all, those of the three broadcast networks, the three cable networks (NBC and MSNBC are combined) and NPR
Newspaper-based Web sites: The top two newspaper-based Web sites were included as well as the Web site of the largest west-coast paper and the site of a local paper with a tight Senate race:
Political Web sites: Web sites of two political news magazines, and one liberal and one conservative political Web sites.
Broadcast Television: All four network news outlets were included: (monitor 6:30 -7:30, 8-10 check top and bottom of the hour, 10:00 – 11:00)
Cable Television All three cable television channels.
Election coverage of the 32 outlets was monitored at the Project by a team of 14 researchers. The outlets were monitored in real-time, for the following time frames on November 7th, 2006. Note: all times are Eastern Standard.
Researchers were assigned specific news outlets to monitor continuously during the designated time frames. Monitoring was conducted in three forms for all Web-based outlets.
First, researches began by capturing (and saving) the election home page and writing a detailed site description of the layout and features of the site.
Second, researchers refreshed their site every 20 minutes and coding at each download for specific indicators. Those indicators included:
Third, researches kept an electronic “diary” of the night, writing down items of note, quotes, odd incidents, etc.
Broadcast and cable outlets were monitored via steps two and three.
Coding and diary notes were verified via the captured content.