Volume 1, Issue 1

For the inaugural issue of Community Journalism, the publisher invited two distinguished community journalism scholars – John A. Hatcher and Bill Reader – to reflect on community journalism as a concept and important avenues of research that conceptualization should encourage. This essay is the product of their efforts.

In December 2008, the Laurel Leader, a weekly newspaper serving Laurel, Maryland, moved its newsroom 10 miles north of town to a consolidated newsroom in Columbia, Maryland as a result of corporate financial constraints and real estate consolidation. This study, which utilizes ethnographic interviewing, examines the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders including journalists, readers, city officials, and advertisers on this relocation. James Carey’s (1989) ritual theory is used as a theoretical framework to explain the community’s reaction to this change. Findings suggest newsroom location contributes to stakeholders’ sense of community, which is largely influenced by readers’ sense of place. Findings also suggest the move impacted key stakeholders’ — journalists, readers and advertisers — perceptions of the newspaper’s ability to cover the community.

This study focuses on the civic engagement of high school journalism students in the so-called Millennial generation. Through a pilot study and focus groups, this paper examines the way high school journalism students feel about civic engagement, and if the students connect civic engagement to their works as young journalists.  The focus group findings indicate that being involved in journalism does increase an interest in the community around them, and creates a group of students that believe they know more about current affairs than their peers.  Cyclically, the students believe that civic engagement also helps develop their journalism skills.

Cultural competence has been embraced by a number of professions whose members interact with culturally diverse communities. Yet the concept has been criticized as being narrowly conceived and ill-defined and lacking effective measures. This study attempts to refine the definition and measures of cultural competence, applying the concept through a textual analysis of the multimedia news texts of student journalists reporting on inner-city communities. The study found that multimedia practices offer the potential to move news texts toward a more culturally competent approach to journalism. Additionally, reporters need to develop strategies to negotiate their “insider-outsider” status in culturally diverse communities.