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A Matter of Life and Death? Examining the Quality of Newspaper Coverage on the Newspaper Crisis
Unformatted Document Text:  24! Moreover, the trend toward monopoly actually has contributed to increased newspaper profitability (Picard & Brody, 1997). It is in this sense that some coverage has exaggerated the scale of the newspaper crisis and ignored the historical context for this phenomenon, creating a false impression that the whole industry is “dying.” While an emphasis on event-driven drama is endemic to daily journalism (Iyengar, 1991), its use here nevertheless underscores the degree to which newspapers appear to have taken a superficial approach to covering an issue so close to home. We see variations of this superficiality when analyzing our findings individually. First, the coverage tended to focus more on personnel numbers (50.7%) than key financial indicators such as advertising revenue (34.7%), company debts (25%), pricing strategies (11.1%), or cost structure (10.4%). This might suggest, for instance, that reporters covering the crisis have been influenced by the personal relevance and “human drama” of fellow journalists being laid off and forced to say “goodbye to the news” (Usher, 2010). Along these lines, it’s interesting to note that research suggests that businesses tend to hide their failures from press scrutiny, fearing that news coverage will result in “a possible loss of prestige and profits” (Turow, 1994, p. 33). However, this study found that newspapers exaggerated their own crisis—perhaps in part because the crisis “hit home” for journalists personally. Secondly, it’s clear from these findings that these stories included little contextual information. This may have contributed to an exaggeration of the crisis by suggesting that the problems were exclusive to newspapers, when in fact the picture was more complex. Other legacy industries, including media like television, were facing substantial losses of their own and suffering from the same recession.

Authors: Chyi, H. Iris., Lewis, Seth. and Zheng, Nan.
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24!
 
Moreover, the trend toward monopoly actually has contributed to increased 
newspaper profitability (Picard & Brody, 1997). It is in this sense that some coverage 
has exaggerated the scale of the newspaper crisis and ignored the historical context 
for this phenomenon, creating a false impression that the whole industry is “dying.” 
While an emphasis on event-driven drama is endemic to daily journalism 
(Iyengar, 1991), its use here nevertheless underscores the degree to which newspapers 
appear to have taken a superficial approach to covering an issue so close to home. We 
see variations of this superficiality when analyzing our findings individually. First, 
the coverage tended to focus more on personnel numbers (50.7%) than key financial 
indicators such as advertising revenue (34.7%), company debts (25%), pricing 
strategies (11.1%), or cost structure (10.4%). This might suggest, for instance, that 
reporters covering the crisis have been influenced by the personal relevance and 
“human drama” of fellow journalists being laid off and forced to say “goodbye to the 
news” (Usher, 2010). Along these lines, it’s interesting to note that research suggests 
that businesses tend to hide their failures from press scrutiny, fearing that news 
coverage will result in “a possible loss of prestige and profits” (Turow, 1994, p. 33). 
However, this study found that newspapers exaggerated their own crisis—perhaps in 
part because the crisis “hit home” for journalists personally. 
Secondly, it’s clear from these findings that these stories included little 
contextual information. This may have contributed to an exaggeration of the crisis by 
suggesting that the problems were exclusive to newspapers, when in fact the picture 
was more complex. Other legacy industries, including media like television, were 
facing substantial losses of their own and suffering from the same recession. 


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