Marcus Funk

Community newspapers in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina hold a front row seat to critical early presidential primary elections; they cover those elections, however, with an exclusive focus on coverage of candidate visits to local communities. Unlike national media, which focus primarily on “horse race” campaign coverage, community newspaper editors and publishers say they consider a candidate’s standing in state and national polls unimportant to their coverage; equally inconsequential are a candidate’s character, values, issues and policies. This survey of community newspaper editors and publishers supports gatekeeping theory but refutes its focus on normative, labeling and conscious deviance. It also helps develop literature on the “relentlessly local” focus of community journalism.

The Boy Scouts of America are a staple in American community newspaper coverage. This was particularly true in 2013, when the BSA adopted a controversial policy concerning members who are gay. This qualitative analysis compares 2012 community newspaper coverage of the Boy Scouts with culturally preservationist rhetoric espoused by conservative politicians. Analysis found that community newspapers avoid controversy entirely and instead focus on positive displays of local scouts, achievements, and connections. It implies that community newspapers are imagining an association between those local identities, and that conservative political rhetoric imposes cultural associations which are not reflected by community media. This study of 2012 news is particularly noteworthy given intervening and recent changes concerning the Boy Scouts’ membership, and the growing cultural prominence of gay rights and gay marriage.