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When the Publisher is a Politician; A Case Study of the Idaho Falls Post Register's Coverage of the 2002 Idaho Gubernatorial Campaign When the Publisher is a Politician; A Case Study of the Idaho Falls Post Register's Coverage of the 2002 Idaho Gubernatorial Campaign

by Boyle, Kristoffer D

Abstract (Summary)
In March 2002, Idaho Falls Post Register owner/publisher Jerry Brady announced his intent to run as the Democratic challenger in the Idaho gubernatorial race. His decision left the newspaper and its editorial staff scrambling for an appropriate way to objectively cover the state’s most prominent race involving the man who signed the checks. In an effort to meet this expectation, the newspaper established a detailed plan, which included Brady moving away from the newspaper’s operations, both physically and editorially. Additionally, the Post Register brought in an outside media professional to monitor its coverage of the race and hosted several meetings for readers.

While several studies have examined the relationship between politics and journalism, there have not been any significant studies related to a newspaper covering one of its own, which is the focus of this work. Using a case study approach, this study examines the Post Register’s plan for covering the gubernatorial race and analyzes whether the paper followed its plan. The study includes a content analysis of the campaign-related articles published by the paper based on five components of objectivity as presented by Mindich (1999). These components include detachment, nonpartisanship, inverted pyramid, facticity, and balance. From this analysis, this study aims to answer the question, “Was the Post Register objective in its coverage of the race?”

The study addresses the concept of objectivity and examines three general perspectives of journalistic morality and the viewpoints within those perspectives in an effort to determine which would apply to the Post Register’s situation. They include the individualist perspective (autonomy, existentialism), the collectivist perspective (communitarianism), and the dialectic perspective (public journalism). The findings reveal that the Post Register staff stuck to their coverage plan and was objective in its coverage of the race. The author suggests that these two elements are related. In other words, because the Post Register staff adopted a coverage plan and stuck to it, they were able to remain objective.

The author concludes that Post Register was not rooted in one specific viewpoint. The editorial staff chose to use public journalism tactics as tools toward maintaining a perceived autonomy. In the process, they most heartily embraced the communitarian belief. In other words, if the readers are happy, we must be doing a good job.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Brigham Young University

School Location:USA - Utah

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:newspaper politics publisher public journalism campaign coverage objectivity

ISBN:

Date of Publication:06/27/2005

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