Community Journalism 2015 Abstracts

Advocates, Guardians, and Promoters: Factors that Influence Community Journalists’ Coverage of Rural Poverty • Michael Clay Carey, Samford University • Incorporating research on structural pluralism and gatekeeping as a framework, this research utilizes interviews with local journalists at four different rural Appalachian community news outlets to consider factors that influence news coverage of poverty. Journalists described external and internal pressures that influenced the gatekeeping process, such as the urge to push for substantive change in their communities, the desire to protect residents viewed as vulnerable, and philosophies about what journalists generally and community journalists specifically should strive to accomplish. The strongly expressed at times conflicting personal motives heavily influenced the presence and tone of social issue, shaping coverage as much as (if not more than) the external pressures described in previous studies of structural pluralism. Often, they led journalists to limit or altogether avoid stories about social need. The problematic nature of that exclusion and strategies journalists might use to reorient coverage of poverty are discussed.

Health News Coverage in Kentucky Newspapers • Molly Burchett, University of Kentucky; Al Cross, University of Kentucky; Melissa Patrick, University of Kentucky • In Kentucky, a state with poor health status, the health coverage in community newspapers deals mainly with health behavior, primarily prevention, but though the state ranks No. 1 or 2 in smoking, very little behavior coverage is devoted to smoking. The broadest source of the coverage is from news releases and other subsidies of the news operation, including wire services. A new, specialized service aimed at rural media provided 1.6 percent of the coverage. Resistance to coverage of localities’ poor health status was illustrated by the paucity and nature of coverage of the annual County Health Rankings.

Community Journalism: Relentlessly Deviant? CATA of Normative Deviance and Localness in American Community Newspaper Websites • Marcus Funk, Sam Houston State University • Computerized content analysis software, or CATA, offers intriguing insight into the publication of normative deviance on the websites of American community and non-local newspapers. CATA of news factors, ANOVAs, and Pearson’s correlations indicate that community newspaper websites remain relentlessly local, but are otherwise as focused on normative deviance as metropolitan and national publications. Put another way: Once localness is established, online community newspaper content is statistically indistinguishable from online metropolitan and national newspaper content.

High Stakes in the High Plains: Attitudes of Rural Editors and Publishers in Areas Facing Depopulation • David Guth, University of Kansas • This survey research focuses on the attitudes of rural newspaper editors and publishers in the U.S. High Plains. The region faces depopulation that threatens the existence of their newspapers and communities. The editors and publishers are comfortable in their potential conflicting roles of community watchdog and booster. While respondents have positive attitudes toward the future of their publications, they are concerned about succession – Who will take their place when they are gone?

Building community through branding at NPR member stations • Joseph Kasko, University of South Carolina • This research is composed of 20 in-depth, qualitative interviews with managers at NPR stations across the U.S. to examine how they are attempting to build a sense of community through branding. The findings suggest public radio stations are promoting the NPR brand and local brand messages to build community. Stations are also promoting brand messages through events, community partnerships and electronic communication.

Cultivating News Coverage: An analysis of California agriculture reporting • Sandra Robinson, Cal State Monterey Bay • Agriculture is one of the largest industries in the world, the United States and California. The industry has an impact on our environment, economy and society. Since the 1950s, information about agriculture topics and issues has decreased in mainstream media, while niche agriculture and trade publications have become more prevalent. Media coverage of this industry matters. Newspapers remain a useful source for agriculture news, as this is often the most local media outlet in prime agriculture areas. This study examines agriculture reporting in select California newspapers and compares data with a previous study of Illinois newspapers. A topical and framing analysis determined California newspapers publish fewer, but longer articles about agriculture. In interviews, editors in both states said the loss of full time reporters is the greatest challenge to news coverage of all types. Both studies indicate a lack of critical coverage of the agriculture industry.

2015 Abstracts

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