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As media conglomeration and economic constraints force the continued decline of community newspapers, which represent the majority of American newspapers and serve as journalists' training grounds, this project offers an uncommon approach to the study of newspapering and seeks to fill a gap in existing journalism research dominated by scholarly studies of large newspapers. Political economy serves as the theoretical lens for this ethnography of community newspaper journalists' activities. In order to understand whether and how journalists' labor has the potential to bring about structural changes that influence shifts in their work and values, the principles of journalism (Kovach and Rosenstiel, 2001) are juxtaposed with a case study of journalists working at a community newspaper. The study finds American community newspaper journalists forced to negotiate their values and internalize business demands in order to answer their employers' profit motives. Journalists' training and education should be restructured to incorporate an understanding of the economic imperatives at work in newspaper decision making, and a rearticulation of journalists' principles that accommodates increased transparency in the connection between journalists and their labor is needed.

Keywords: community newspaper; journalism; journalism education; journalist; journalists principles; political economy of media

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2008


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