How we did it: approach and methods
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The analyses in this book are based on a dataset covering information on more than 7,500 news items and more than 28,000 sources that appear in the news items. How did we gather these news items? In the process of designing a comparative study, numerous decisions have to be made – many of which are not straightforward (Rössler 2012). These decisions relate to the sampling procedure, the construction of the codebook, inter-coder reliability testing, and the strategy of analysis. The goal of this chapter is to provide a technical overview of how we created the main data source for this book and to present the methods applied. In so doing, we intend to provide enough background information for the subsequent analyses that are needed to evaluate and contextualize the data and the results. This chapter does not aim to provide an in-depth discussion or analysis of the methods and strategies applied. Numerous books and articles with extended methodological discussions on cross-country media content analysis have been previously published (e.g., Hopmann and Skovsgaard 2014; Krippendorff 2004; Neuendorf 2002; Peter and Lauf 2002; Riffe, Lacy, and Fico 2005; Rössler 2012). This chapter, by contrast, describes the application of methods. The chapter proceeds as follows. In the first part, the period of sampling and its various steps are presented, involving countries, news outlets, and news articles. In the second part, we provide a short overview of the codebook. The third part presents our testing of inter-coder reliability, both across countries and within countries. We then briefly explain how our analyses in the subsequent chapters were conducted and why. The chapter’s concluding section reflects on some of the advantages and challenges of the data sources and the methods that we have chosen.