ARTICLE: Community journalism program instills values that are hard to uphold

Working late by Kevin McShane, licence CC BY-NC 2.0

Graduates of a Master’s degree program in community journalism continue to value the tenets of their education, yet have difficulties in adhering to them in practice, Wilson Lowrey and George L. Daniels, both of University of Alabama, write. The authors sent a survey to all the graduates of one program, gathering 41 usable responses from a total of 60 alumni. In addition, content analysis was performed on 96 online articles produced by 32 of the graduates.

According to the survey, the graduates still believe in the core goals of community journalism: revealing community structures and processes, helping to lead the community, and listening to the community. Listening to community members and helping them voice their opinions was seen as especially important.

Content analysis of the graduates’ output, however, revealed that upholding these values is not easy. Coders estimated whether the analysed stories corresponded to the three community journalism goals on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly disagree – strongly agree). The median values were 1.20, 1.58 and 1.22 – meaning that most stories were moderately to strongly contrary to the core tenets of community journalism.

The article “Assessing a 10-Year Experiment in Community Journalism Education” was published by the journal Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. It is available online (abstract free).

Picture: Working late by Kevin McShane, licence CC BY-NC 2.0.

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