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Frequency Distribution and the News Coverage Index (2012): Formats for TV News Stories in the United States

By: The Odum Institute Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Datasets
Data Type: Numeric
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This dataset example describes a frequency distribution, or “frequency,” for a categorical variable. A frequency distribution reports how many and what percentage of observations fall into each category for that variable. Frequency distributions are critical in quantitative data analysis because they are usually the first test a researcher will use to both explore their data and check for errors and extreme values. This example uses a subset of data from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism News Coverage Index for 2012. Specifically, it presents a frequency of the format used for network and cable TV news stories aired on news shows from January through May of 2012. Understanding the formats TV news shows use to present stories is the first step in ...

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About This Dataset
Data Source Citation

Pew Research Center. (2012). 2012 Project for Excellence in Journalism News Coverage Index [Data file]. Retrieved from

Full title of originating dataset

2012 Project for Excellence in Journalism News Coverage Index (NCI)

Data author(s) and affiliations

Pew Research Center

Data Universe

American news stories from newspapers, online news sources, network television, cable news, and radio news

Funding sources/suppliers

Pew Research Center

Pew Research bears no responsibility for interpretations presented or conclusions reached based on analysis of the data

Sample/sampling procedures

A multistage, purposive sampling process of media outlets was employed to provide a broad, illustrative but not strictly representative sample of the media universe.


Weights for news sources: Newspapers (0.19), Online (0.30), Network TV (0.15), Cable TV (0.23), Radio (0.12)

Data collection dates

01-2012 to 05-2012

Time frame of analysis


Unit of analysis

Text Unit

Location covered by data

United States

Links to SRM content
List of variables


Broadcast Start Time


Duration in Seconds




Story Format


Geographic Focus




Media Type

Methods Map
Frequency distribution