Content analysis

One of the acknowledged scientific methods for assessing the quality of media reporting is content analysis. Content analysis is a systematic and objective method of analysing media reports (news stories, features, programmes, etc.) using the same criteria. Therefore, the quality criteria were transformed into clear questions to all units, that have been compiled in a “codebook”, the central element of content analysis. Using a codebook has the advantage of facilitating the assessment of all journalistic units in the sample (print, TV, Radio, online) using the very same criteria, and in the same way. This makes the results comparable between different media genres and different media houses.

Selection of units

With newspapers, eight (8) units per day were selected. These units included front-page stories, lead stories on each page, and features. Sports stories were not selected. With TV and radio, the first four (4) news of the main evening news bulletin were selected, plus two or three programmes on that day. In circumstances where all the programmes were hard to get on that day, the missed programme(s) was selected from the following day of that week. For programmes with various segments, only one segment was selected for inclusion.

For JamiiForums, the study used a special selection approach. In this regard, posts under specific relevant topics, new posts and forums were selected and contributions made for those posts within the first three days after the launch of those posts analysed. Generally, 2,400 contributions were finally reviewed (80 posts, and 30 contributions per each post).

Recording and radio and TV pieces

Before recording radio and TV media pieces, the researchers went through radio and TV programme schedules to select programmes to be recorded. Recorders from local radio stations were drawn from respective radio stations, whereas recordings for other radio and TV stations were handled by someone outside these media outlets.

Quality assurance of recorded pieces and coding

Quality assurance involved a rigorous process of ensuring that all the pieces recorded were complete and properly coded. All newspaper pieces and transcriptions for radio and TV were kept for reference in case there was a need to clarify anything regarding coding.

Assessment and Analysis of data

The data from coding were thoroughly checked for correctness and consistency and then compiled in a joint SPSS file. The analysis used common statistical tools – frequency counts and cross-tabulation – of original and re-coded data on quality criteria.