Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Terrorism, Tight Credit, and Tragedies Emerge in the News in Third Quarter


As a special report for PEJ’s weekly News Coverage Index (NCI), the Quarterly Report is based on the aggregated data collected from July 1, 2007 – September 30, 2007 (the 3rd quarter of 2007).
Examining the news agenda of 48 different outlets in five media sectors, including newspapers, online, network TV, cable TV, and radio, the NCI is designed to provide news consumers, journalists and researchers with hard data about what stories and topics the media are covering, the trajectories of major stories and differences among news platforms.

Following a rotation system outlined below, PEJ monitors 48 different news outlets each week: 35 outlets each weekday as well as 7 newspapers each Sunday.
From that content, PEJ analyzes all stories with a national or international focus that appearing as follows:

  • On the front page of newspapers
  • In the entirety of commercial network evening newscasts.
  • The first 30 minutes of network morning news,  all cable programs, the PBS evening news, and NPR’s Morning Edition.
  • The top 5 stories on each website at the time of capture 

Capture and Retrieval

All outlets included in the weekly index are captured and included in PEJ’s media archive.

For newspapers that are available in print in the Washington, D.C. area, we have hard copies delivered to our office each day. For newspapers that are not available for delivery, digital editions of the paper are retrieved either through the newspaper’s own web site, or through the use of digital delivery services such as and When necessary, the text of article are supplemented by the archives available in the LexisNexis computer database.

Radio programs are captured through online streams of the shows. Using automated software, we record several local affiliates that air the program in various markets throughout the country. The purpose of this method is to ensure that we have a version of the program in case one of the streams is unavailable on a particular day, and so that we record the show in a manner that represents the way a typical listener would hear the program with commercials and newsbreaks.

Online websites are captured manually by a member of PEJ’s staff each morning between 9 and 10 am ET. The home pages and pages with the top articles for all five sites are saved so that when we reference the material, the format is the same as it appeared online at the time of capture.

Finally, all television shows are recorded digitally and archived for coding purposes. PEJ is a subscriber to DirectTV satellite service and all programs are recorded onto multiple TiVo recording units before being burned onto DVDs for archival purposes.

All television and radio programs are then coded by a member of PEJ’s staff who watches or listens to the archived version of the program.

Rotation Schedule and Outlet List

Newspapers (Thirteen in all, Sun-Fri)

NY Times every day

Code 2 out of these 4 every day
Washington Post
LA Times
USA Today
Wall Street Journal

Code 2 out of these 4 every day
The Boston Globe
Star Tribune
Austin American-Statesman
Albuquerque Journal

Code 2 out of these 4 every day
The Sun Chronicle
Star Beacon
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
The Bakersfield Californian

Web sites (Five in all, Mon-Fri)
Yahoo News
Google News
AOL News

Network TV (Seven in all, Mon-Fri)

Morning shows
ABC – Good Morning America
CBS – Early Show
NBC – Today

Evening news
ABC – World News Tonight
CBS – CBS Evening News
NBC – NBC Nightly News
PBS – NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

Cable TV (Fifteen in all, Mon-Fri)

Daytime (2-2:30pm)  – code 2 out of 3 every day
Fox News

Nighttime CNN – code 3 out of the 4 every day
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Situation Room (7 pm)
Paula Zahn Now/Out in the Open  *
Anderson Cooper 360

* From August 6 on, Out in the Open was coded as a replacement for Paula Zahn Now.

Nighttime Fox News – code 3 out of the 4 every day
Special Report w/ Brit Hume
Fox Report w/ Shepard Smith
O’Reilly Factor
Hannity & Colmes

Nighttime MSNBC – code 2 out of the 4 every day
Tucker (6 pm)
Hardball (7 pm)
Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann
Scarborough Country/Live with Dan Abrams *

* From July 9 on, Live with Dan Abrams was coded as a replacement for Scarborough Country.       

Radio (Eight in all, Mon-Fri)

Headlines every day
ABC Radio headlines at 9am and 5pm
CBS Radio headlines at 9am and 5pm
NPR Morning Edition every day

Talk Radio
Rush Limbaugh every day

1 out of 2 additional conservatives each day
Sean Hannity
Michael Savage

1 out of 2 liberals each day
Ed Schultz
Randi Rhodes

The resulting universe of stories was coded by a team, which is made up of 8 trained coders, a coding administrator, and a senior research methodologist. The complete methodology for the weekly NCI has further details on the coding system and coder reliability.

This report aggregates the NCI from July 1, 2007- September 30, 2007. The resulting universe totals 17,953 news stories, 460 hours of broadcast content (148 hours from network TV, 223 hours from cable, 89 hours from radio), 2.12 million words in newspapers, and 1.07 million words from news websites.

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