A comparison study of minority coverage in two newspapers during 1981
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This study was designed to determine if two Illinois daily newspapers, during 1981, adequately covered their respective minority communities. Adequate coverage was defined as copy points within five percentage points of the representation of minorities in the newspapers' respective circulation areas. The minority community was limited to non-White persons who were either Hispanic, Black or Oriental and who resided in the circulation areas of the newspapers analyzed. Content analysis was the research method used to determine whether the newspapers' content matched the news objectives stated by the communicators who, in this case, were the managing editors of the newspapers. Although neither manager had concrete management objectives for minority coverage, both said that their newspapers were willing to cover their minority communities. A systematic sample of issues from both newspapers was measured and analyzed according to news objectives outlined by the newspapers' respective managements and the frequency of coverage of the minority community compared with its representation in newspapers circulation area. Minority coverage was measured and critiqued to determine the frequency of its appearance in each issue and to evaluate whether or not the coverage was positive, negative or neutral. Additional analysis established the amount of minority coverage which was categorized sports or crime/violence news. This was done to discover whether or not the newspapers were reverting to stereotypical images of only reporting on minorities in violent situations or in athletic competition. Data acquired from an analysis of the content proved that both newspapers failed to cover their minority communities adequately. Only approximately 3 percent of the total newspapers' contents were devoted to minority stories, when minority population was over 15 percent in each community. Positive, negative and neutral category evaluations revealed that the total minority copy was evenly distributed among the three categories. However, the majority of local minority copy was divided among the positive and neutral categories. Further analysis of minority copy indicated that sports copy has a high percentage of minority coverage in both newspapers. Crime/violence coverage, however, was significantly lower than hypothesized. Finally, the only newspaper which had minority journalists contributing to the pool of minority copy was the News-Sun. The Herald-News minority journalist did not write minority copy. Yet, the paper had minority coverage. In conclusion, the hypothesis that both newspapers would cover their respective minority communities inadequately tested true. However, further study would be required to determine whether the limited minority staffs and the absence of minorities in editorial decision-making at both newspapers contributed to their failure to adequately over the communities or whether minority journalists are needed to insure the adequate coverage of the minority community.