Thursday, February 09, 2006

Evans: Community Newspapers focus on community values

Touting the challenges of empirically defining community journalism, University of Alabama Researcher William Evans listed some of the ways in which content analytic research can assist in the process.

Evans talked about an ongoing project that involved analyzing newspaper editorials. One of his biggest findings was that community newspapers and corporately-owned newspapers appear to differ in the way they discuss community values.

"I think we have a new species of editorial, one that focuses on community valuies," said William Evans, director of the Institute for Communication and Information Research at the state's flagship institution.

He used an example of the different ways in which The Anniston Star and the Tuscaloosa News opined on the recent rash of church burnings in West Alabama. The Star was more direct in explaining why the fires was inconsistent with the values of the state while the Tuscaloosa paper's editorial re-stated the facts of the story and simply suggested that no one should jump to conclusions.

While the example from this week was not included in their newspaper contnet analysis, it did show how community journalism here in Alabama can approach

Evans' findings were based on a pilot study of major newspapers.

Evans gave the first of several brief 15-minute ON POINT presentations where research results or efforts are the focus.


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