No news is bad news: a case study of community conflict coverage between four Texas newspapers



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Texas Tech University


Though on the surface they may look like just smaller versions of their big-city counterparts, small community weeklies are in truth very different publications. The news makeup of community weeklies typically consists more of items on the community bulletin board and less of hard-hitting, investigative news reports. When stacked up against three publications in increasingly larger markets, one community weekly, the Tulia Herald, kept coverage of the city's controversial 1999 drug bust to a minimum, especially items that would have put dominant community leaders in a bad light. This case study featured a content analysis of all printed items relating to the drug bust in Tulia-which was later investigated due to the questionable tactics and background of the sole undercover officer on the case-in four newspapers from communities of increasing pluralism. The research revealed that the larger market newspapers studied, the Plainview Daily Herald, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, and Dallas Morning News, covered the event more thoroughly and were more likely to question law enforcement and other key players in the controversy than the smaller weekly newspaper in Tulia.