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A Matter of Life and Death? Examining the Quality of Newspaper Coverage on the Newspaper Crisis
Unformatted Document Text:  14! downturn in the newspaper industry: Was it corporate debt, the loss of advertising revenue, the economy, the Internet, readers, or newspapers themselves (for failing to innovate) that caused the crisis? This study addresses the following research question: RQ4: What was presented as the cause(s) of the newspaper crisis? Additionally, this study examined the use of language in the coverage of this market downturn—in particular, the use of “death” imagery. Business reporters and editors, like most journalists, often exaggerate stories that have elements of crisis (Welles, 1991). In fact, the idea that “newspapers are dying” has become a recurring theme in U.S. newspapers’ self-coverage. Even in the 1990s, when the industry was enjoying sustained growth in advertising and circulation revenue (Newspaper Association of America, 2009), closures of afternoon papers and the financial troubles of some metro dailies led many outside and within the industry to reach that same conclusion (Picard & Brody, 1997). As noted above, the use of death imagery seemed prevalent this round and would serve as an indicator of sensationalism in such coverage. So, this study addresses this research question: RQ5: How many stories used death imagery? Some critics have pointed out that newspapers’ coverage of their own crisis may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, “newspapers are dying…because they’re dying” (Farhi, 2008). Although it is impossible to measure the effect of such coverage on readers’ perception of the state of the newspaper industry with a content analysis, this study attempts to categorize each story based on

Authors: Chyi, H. Iris., Lewis, Seth. and Zheng, Nan.
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14!
 
downturn in the newspaper industry: Was it corporate debt, the loss of advertising 
revenue, the economy, the Internet, readers, or newspapers themselves (for failing to 
innovate) that caused the crisis? This study addresses the following research question: 
RQ4: What was presented as the cause(s) of the newspaper crisis?  
 
 
 
Additionally, this study examined the use of language in the coverage of this 
market downturn—in particular, the use of “death” imagery. Business reporters and 
editors, like most journalists, often exaggerate stories that have elements of crisis 
(Welles, 1991). In fact, the idea that “newspapers are dying” has become a recurring 
theme in U.S. newspapers’ self-coverage. Even in the 1990s, when the industry was 
enjoying sustained growth in advertising and circulation revenue (Newspaper 
Association of America, 2009), closures of afternoon papers and the financial 
troubles of some metro dailies led many outside and within the industry to reach that 
same conclusion (Picard & Brody, 1997). As noted above, the use of death imagery 
seemed prevalent this round and would serve as an indicator of sensationalism in such 
coverage. So, this study addresses this research question:  
RQ5: How many stories used death imagery? 
 
 
 
Some critics have pointed out that newspapers’ coverage of their own crisis 
may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, “newspapers are 
dying…because they’re dying” (Farhi, 2008). Although it is impossible to measure 
the effect of such coverage on readers’ perception of the state of the newspaper 
industry with a content analysis, this study attempts to categorize each story based on 


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