Volume 2, Issue 1

This qualitative historical case study examines how the Garden City Telegram, a small community daily newspaper, diverged from an episodic, conflict-driven frame for the debate over federal immigration reform in the 1980s and 1990s by promoting immigrants as potential citizens rather than outsiders. Qualitative content assessment of locally originated articles, opinion pieces, and wire stories in the Telegram found it promoted community dialogue by including Latino leaders in the conversation. It emphasized thematic coverage that explored the reasons for immigrants’ presence and contributions to life in southwest Kansas.

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.

A challenge for media in a culturally complex world is building a sense of community between groups with strong cultural cleavages. In South Africa, a fledgling democratic republic is making concerted efforts to foster media that will help to overcome a history of oppression based on difference. A qualitative analysis of interviews with 62 respondents found that the community journalists see themselves as community educators whose role transcends reporting the news. The community journalists interviewed are experimenting with new partnerships and new ways of reporting the news. However, the respondents disagree on the way news should be reported, with some opting for a more solution-oriented approach. The findings underscore that the greatest obstacle to these efforts is finding a way to foster sustainable media that serve historically marginalized communities.