Civic Approach Not So Different from Traditional Model.(reporting on Homelessness)
Moscowitz, Leigh, Newspaper Research Journal
A story about homelessness that ran in the October 7, 2000 edition of the Charlotte Observer illustrates how this newspaper--firmly grounded in civic journalism--approached the coverage of this local community problem. (1) The article focused on a local church that was opening a soup kitchen to serve the homeless and other community members in need. The reporter interviewed church officers and volunteers as well as a few regular diners. The story ended by asking readers, "Want to go?" and listed the time and date of the dedication ceremony, gave directions to the church, provided contact information, included the hours of operation and called on readers to donate money and volunteer their time on behalf of the soup kitchen.
The focus of the article was on how a local group was helping to alleviate the needs of homeless in their community. But beyond reporting community efforts to help, the newspaper actively invited readers to become involved in the solution. This approach is nothing new to proponents of the civic journalism model, who argue the press should provide readers with possible solutions to problems and engage them in taking an active role in their communities.
This study is an exploratory case study of homeless coverage designed to examine whether the civic journalism approach to reporting on issues like homelessness differ from the traditional reportorial approach. This study uses content analysis to compare the coverage of homelessness between a newspaper well established in civic journalism, the Charlotte Observer, and another following a more conservative, traditional approach to news, the Indianapolis Star.
Few studies have systematically examined the impact civic journalism has on the coverage of social issues, such as child abuse, domestic violence or homelessness. (2) Nevertheless, researchers have long recognized that coverage of particular social problems in the mass media and the way in which they are covered cannot only increase public awareness of a problem, but can also mobilize public support for certain solutions and affect policy making. (3)
Moreover, many proponents of civic journalism have called for the media to use their power to bring certain social problems to light. For example, Hume has called for a "new paradigm of news" in which media organizations act to revitalize the communities they serve--using the voices of average citizens to guide their stories, covering issues citizens are most concerned about, taking a stand on critical social problems and offering solutions to the problems they cover rather than just focusing on the problems themselves. (4)
Regardless of civic journalism's potential impact on the average of local social problems, much of the research assessing public journalism to date has been limited largely to campaign coverage--measuring what effect, if any, civic journalism has on voter learning and the coverage of elections. However, as some researchers have noted,
... civic journalism is about more than political campaigns ... There are local initiatives that address socially and politically contentious issues such as race relations, crime, education, community planning, and economic development. Before one can draw conclusions about the civic journalism movement, an evaluation of those initiatives is in order. (5)
By selecting the issue of homelessness, this explanatory study is designed to examine the impact civic journalism might have on the coverage of a local social problem. The study compares homeless coverage in terms of story prominence, the types of sources used, the absence or presence of solution-oriented content and the absence or presence of mobilizing information.
Mass communications researchers have long recognized the media's role in communicating the relative salience of issues and events. (6) Some have argued that the process of agenda setting creates a top-down effect in which political elites use the media as a channel to transfer their agenda to the public. (7) Civic journalism in part works to restructure this traditional model of agenda setting, which Merritt has called a "death trap for democracy:"
It was ... clear to me that the public couldn't change on its own, being merely a victim of the incestuous partnership of politics and the political press. Which left us, the press, to change, to try to halt the devastating spiral. (8)
Thus the movement toward civic or public journalism began in the early 1990s in order to, simply put, engage citizens in public life. In the civic journalism model, citizens mobilize and use the media to bring the issues they feel are most important directly to policy makers, pressuring political elites to act in the interest of the community.
Civic journalism remains debated in newsrooms and in academic circles. Critics argue the movement is nothing more than a thinly disguised marketing technique that "weakens the journalist's hard-fought independence and objectivity." (9) The civic journalism movement includes several projects scattered throughout the country, most notably the Wichita Eagle, Charlotte Observer, Wisconsin State Journal, San Francisco Chronicle and Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin. (10) The majority of the projects have focused on increasing voter knowledge and participation during state and local elections, while a few have dealt with community issues such as race, crime and unemployment.
The media's prominent role in agenda setting of certain social issues may have important implications for civic journalism. Civic journalism acts to directly engage readers as citizens in an effort to empower the public, revitalize democracy and solve social ills. If civic journalism approaches social problems differently than does traditional journalism, then the media are not simply playing an active role in setting the public's agenda of what to think about. The media could also potentially affect what readers think by galvanizing public support for certain solutions or pressuring policy-makers to take action. In doing so, the press steps outside traditional boundaries of objectivity not only to be a part of the agenda-setting process but also to be directly involved in social problem solving.
Moreover, research indicates that journalists may have more leeway when it comes to setting the agenda for social issues. According to Graber, the political ideologies of individual journalists play a critical role in the process of agenda building for social issues. (11) She concludes, "The sympathies of newspeople for particular causes guide their choices of news content in hopes of influencing the course of politics." (12) Likewise, Weaver and Elliot's study of agenda building found that the local newspaper they analyzed tended to play a more active agenda setting role with regard to social and recreational topics.
Because civic journalism acts to engage readers in revitalizing their community, the civic journalism model might prompt journalists to bring certain social problems onto the public agenda by either running more stories about such issues or by placing more prominence on these types of story topics. (13)
Research Questions and Hypotheses
This study, therefore, seeks to answer the following research question:
Do newspapers that practice civic journalism place more prominence on homelessness as a story topic than do other newspapers that follow a traditional reportorial approach?
When it comes to assessing the effects of civic journalism on the way news is covered and its ability to influence public opinion, results are mixed. (14) Much of the research assessing public journalism to date has looked at campaign coverage and its impact on voters. For example, Thames' assessment of the Charlotte Observer's civic journalism approach to the 1992 elections found that Observer readers were more likely to claim an interest in politics during the campaign as compared to readers of other area papers that followed a traditional approach to campaign reporting. (15) However, Observer readers rated the paper as more politically biased than did the readers of the other area newspapers, and their knowledge of state and local politics actually decreased, perhaps because increased coverage of the national race.
Denton's and Thorson's study on the effects of a multimedia public journalism project, "We the People" by the Wisconsin State Journal, found the majority of readers were aware of the project and that there was an increase in the level of interest and knowledge in the 1992 election as a result of the project. (16) Those aware of the project also said they were more likely to vote.
A study of the 1996 general election campaign in New Zealand found that public journalism coverage was more likely to focus on policy issues and less likely to concentrate on personality, campaign tactics and horse race coverage than was the previous traditional approach. (17) There was also an increase in neutral news among public journalism stories, with less of a negative slant on politics.
However, a similar study conducted by McMillan, Guppy, Kunz and Reis found that civic journalism made relatively little difference in the way the Kansas gubernatorial campaign was covered. (18) It found that since the adoption of civic journalism, the Wichita Eagle was more likely to focus on issues and candidate records than on the horse race and was more likely to contain mobilizing information than were the two other area newspapers. However, in terms of story origin and the types of sources used, the study found relatively no difference in coverage. In fact, the use of citizen organizations or unaffiliated sources actually dropped after the introduction of civic journalism.
Thus the research assessing civic journalism's impact on coverage has found mixed results This study is concerned with whether civic journalism makes a difference in the way news is gathered and reported about a local more socially rooted issue like homelessness.
Specifically, following past research, this study is concerned with whether civic journalism influences the types of sources used in reporting an issue. One of the basic tenets of civic journalism is to reflect the concerns of the public, to give the community a voice in matters rather than simply relying on government elites. In coverage of the homeless, we would therefore expect civic journalism newspapers to rely less on traditional official sources and rely more heavily on homeless people directly dealing with the problem, citizen activist groups trying to solve the problem or volunteers who are "making a difference." This guides the study's first hypothesis:
Newspapers that practice civic journalism will be expected to use fewer official sources in the coverage of homelessness than will other newspapers that follow a traditional reportorial approach.
Also, this study is interested in whether or not the civic journalism approach includes more solution-oriented content when reporting on social problems. Civic journalism seeks to "try to explore how people are resolving the issue, suggesting that solutions are possible and that the reader might play a role in them." (19) This guides the study's second hypothesis:
Newspapers that practice civic journalism will be expected to include more solution-oriented content and mobilizing information in the coverage of homelessness than other newspapers that follow a traditional reportorial approach.
Researchers conducted a content analysis of two newspapers similar in size--the Charlotte Observer, which is firmly rooted in the civic journalism approach, and the Indianapolis Star, which follows a more traditional approach. Using the issue of homelessness, this study measures story prominence, sources used and content--whether the story included solutions and mobilizing information.
These two papers were chosen because they accurately represent the two approaches to journalism being tested. They have similar-size markets with comparable circulation figures. The Charlotte Observer has a circulation of 244,000 while the Indianapolis Star's is 240,300. (20)
The Observer has been at the forefront of civic journalism since 1992, having received funding from the Pew Center for projects including "Your Vote in '92," which covered the election from the viewpoint of citizens, and "Taking Back Our Neighborhoods," which focused on reducing crime. (21) The Observer has been cited in much research concerning civic journalism (22) and is often featured by the Pew Center for Civic Journalism for its continued commitment to the movement. (23)
As a good source of comparison, the Indianapolis Star is owned by Gannett Corporation and follows a traditional, conservative approach to news, doing very little if any civic journalism. (24) The only evidence of civic journalism practiced by the Star is a joint project with a local television station called "The People's Agenda." The project is described as a joint venture between Channel 13 News and the Star's editorial staff. (25) Therefore, the only civic journalism project that could be found involving the Star was contained in the editorial page and simply listed citizens' top issues. Homelessness was not one of them. Since editorial pieces about homelessness were omitted from the study, it is safe to say that the Star's coverage of the issue represented a traditional journalistic approach.
While the newspapers come from different regions, the issue of homelessness does not differ greatly between the two cities. Sources estimate there are about 9,200 homeless people in Charlotte (26) and about 12,000 in Marion County, which includes the city of Indianapolis. (27)
A search was conducted through a comprehensive news archive web site (www.newslibrary.com) to select all local articles that contained the word "homeless" over a six-month period, from October 1, 2000, through March 31, 2001. The search found 282 stories containing "homeless" in the Observer and 157 stories in the Star.
Researchers looked at local stories that were centrally concerned with the issue of homelessness rather than those stories that contained just a brief mention or report. Therefore, police briefs that cataloged run-ins between a homeless person and police or briefs of fires that left a local family homeless were omitted from the sample. Also, stories of homelessness in other states or in other countries were also omitted from the sample. Opinion pieces and editorials also were omitted, as this study aimed to analyze traditional news coverage of homelessness, not the newspaper's editorial stance on the issue.
After eliminating these stories and others that were not centrally concerned with the homeless, a sample of 47 Star stories and 77 Observer stories remained. Systematic random sampling was used to reduce the Observer sample to 47 stories for accurate comparison between the two newspapers. The unit of analysis for this study was the individual article about homelessness.
The 94 stories were coded according to the prominence of the story, the sources used in the story, absence or presence of solution-oriented content and absence or presence of mobilizing information.
One way of measuring the relative importance each newspaper places on the issue of homelessness in its community is to measure each article's prominence or placement within the newspaper and story length. Research question 1 dealt with whether the civic journalism newspaper was likely to place more prominence on homelessness as a story topic than would a traditional newspaper. Lengthy feature articles appearing on page A1 have a stronger agenda setting function than do shorter articles buried within inside sections. Therefore, each story on homelessness was coded based on the number of words and placement within the paper--front page of the main section, front page of an inside section or inside any section. For simplification, ordinal level measurements were used to classify story prominence. (28)
Researchers hypothesized that the civic journalism newspapers would rely less on official sources than would a traditional newspaper. Therefore, sources for each story about homelessness were coded as either official (organizations that represent political, business or economic interests), citizen or advocacy group (organizations such as homeless shelters or food kitchens), homeless person (representing a private person who is homeless), volunteer (representing a private person or group attempting to solve the problem, but not affiliated with an advocacy organization) or unaffiliated (those identified as not having any organizational affiliation and not directly involved as either a homeless person or a volunteer). These categories were developed in part based on other content analysis studies of civic journalism. (29)
This study also hypothesized that the civic journalism newspapers would include more solution-oriented content and mobilizing information than would a traditional newspaper. Stories were coded based on whether they offered solutions to the problems presented by homelessness. Solution-oriented content might include quotes from citizens and groups about what should be done about the problem, case studies of other communities and how they are resolving the issue or sidebars profiling volunteers who are making a difference. Presence or absence of solution-oriented content was coded as either "yes" or "no."
Closely related to solution-oriented content is the idea of mobilizing information, or MI. Lemert et. al. defines MI as information imbedded in editorial content that allows people to act. (30) MI can include anything from phone numbers and meeting times to recipes and TV listings. While solution-oriented content suggests possible solutions to the homeless problem, mobilizing information takes it one step further by giving readers information they can use to become involved in the solution. For example, a story profiling a local youth group who volunteers at a soup kitchen is considered solution-oriented content. If the story includes a phone number or address for the group and/or the time of their next meeting, then the newspaper is providing readers with mobilizing information.
Lemert argues that in the public affairs arena, lobbyists, elites and those with political savvy already have access to mobilizing information. It is the public, who may wish to express opinions or become involved in certain affairs, who depend greatly on the mass media for its MI. Mobilizing information is thus an important function of civic journalism because it actively encourages community involvement, linking deliberation of social issues to problem solving. (31) For public journalism to be effective, increased public awareness of an issue is not enough; active involvement of the public is required. (32)
According to Lemert, mobilizing information can be any detail about a date, time or meeting room. It can also be information identifying an entity and how to contact it or it could be tactical, such as how-to's, tips, and tactics used by an advocacy group. (33) Each instance of mobilizing information that appeared in a story about homelessness was recorded.
Approximately 10 percent of the stories were recoded by an independent coder, producing 80 percent agreement between coders for all categories combined.
Overall, results from the study showed some significant differences in the way a civic journalism newspaper approaches a social problem like homelessness. The civic journalism newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, was less likely to use official sources than was the Indianapolis Star and was more likely to include solution-oriented content as well as mobilizing information. Specific results for each variable are discussed below.
Almost no difference was found with regard to story prominence. In terms of story length, both newspapers were fairly comparable, although the Star ran more stories over 500 words (64 percent) than did the Observer (53 percent). With regard to where the story about homelessness ran, both newspapers were consistent. The Star ran four stories on the front page of the main section while the Observer ran three. Both newspapers had an equal number of stories that ran on the front page of an inside section, usually the local section. In sum, both newspapers tended to run similar length stories on similar pages within the newspaper.
However, it is important to note that there was a significant difference in the number of stories written about homelessness in the six-month period. The initial search for stories containing the word "homeless" yielded 157 Star stories and nearly twice as many Observer stories (282). In other words, the Observer may not have been placing homeless stories more prominently than the Star, but it clearly ran more articles about the issue.
A total of 411 sources were coded from the 94 stories in the sample. Again, significant differences (p<.016) were found in the types of sources used between the non-civic newspaper and the civic newspaper. (See Table 1) Hypothesis 2 was supported, as the Star was more likely than the Observer to use official sources. While 29.5 percent of the Star sources used were official, only 18.2 percent of the Observer's sources were official. Additionally, the Observer was slightly more likely to use homeless advocates and victims of homelessness as sources than was the Star. The Observer was also more likely to use volunteers as sources (28 percent of their sources were volunteers) as compared to the Star (19 percent).
Overwhelmingly, across both newspapers, almost all stories written about homelessness included some type of solution to the problem. This may be because of the broad definition used for "solution," which included any quotes, profiles or case studies about what should be done about the problem. The inclusion of solution-oriented content could also be a result of the time frame of the study, two months of which fell during the holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas), a time when philanthropy tends to be on the rise.
Regardless, a chi-square test yielded significant differences (p<.049) between the Star and the Observer when it came to the likelihood of including a solution in the story. While the Observer had only one story (or 2.1 percent of all Observer stories) with no solution offered, the Star had six stories (or 12.8 percent of all Star stories) with no solution. (See Table 2) In support of Hypothesis 3, the Observer, then, was more likely to include quotes or profiles that proposed a solution to help alleviate homelessness in the community.
While no significant differences were found in terms of the type of MI used, there was a difference in terms of the likelihood of including MI and how much MI was included in each story.
A total of 205 instances of MI were found in the 94 stories. Within the Star's 47 stories, 65 instances of mobilizing information were coded; within the Observer's 47 stories, more than twice as many were found (140). Therefore, the Star averaged 1.4 pieces of MI per story while the Observer averaged 2.8 per story. Overall, identification was by far the most common type of MI, representing about 75 percent of the 205 total instances of MI across both newspapers.
While not statistically significant (p<.061), Table 3 shows that in general, the Observer was more likely to include at least some MI in each story. While more than half of the Star stories (53 percent) included no MI at all, about two thirds of the Observer stories (66 percent) included at least one piece of MI. The second part of Hypothesis 3 was also supported.
Additionally, from a more qualitative perspective, the MI provided by the Observer was much more direct at engaging citizens in a solution. Stories about homelessness often ended with features like "How you can help." By contrast, the Star's MI was more subtle and usually imbedded in the content of the article, such as including an address for a homeless shelter.
Discussion and Conclusions
This study shows some differences in the way a civic journalism newspaper covers a local, social issue like homelessness. Past assessments of civic journalism have struggled to find much difference in the way campaigns are covered and how likely the electorate is to become engaged in voting and other political behavior. Perhaps that reflects the difficulty in systematically measuring such effects. However, if past studies have concluded that civic journalism makes relatively little difference in election coverage, this study might suggest that civic journalism's more significant role could be in bringing certain social problems to light and proposing particular solutions.
While this study found some differences in coverage, these differences should not be overstated. As noted, almost all stories about homelessness, regardless of the civic journalism or traditional model included solutions to the problem. While the civic journalism paper was more likely to include mobilizing information, it may not be something readers respond to. In line with what much research about election coverage has found, the civic journalism approach may not be all that different from the traditional model. While this study found some differences in coverage of this local social problem, one question for future researchers is if readers would detect these differences. Further research should investigate whether or not readers respond differently to these approaches in coverage.
Regardless, there are important philosophical and ethical questions raised when journalists focus on particular social problems and solutions. Mobilizing the pubic to do something about homelessness in its community is arguably a desirable role for a local newspaper to play. However, media coverage may be more conducive to immediate, short-term solutions such as food and clothing supplies. While helping the community fill these immediate, practical needs, the newspaper may be inadvertently ignoring more deeply rooted causes to the problem such as a lack of affordable housing or inequitable wages.
This analysis should serve as a pilot study for future research to further examine the impact of civic journalism on the coverage of local social problems. This study was limited to only one issue across a relatively short period of time. Further research should look at the coverage of other social problems across extended periods of time and investigate different newspapers for comparison. For example, it would be interesting to see how establishment civic journalism coverage differs from that of a homeless newspaper in the same city. Covering the same issue of homelessness, would the sources be different in a homeless newspaper than is a civic journalism newspaper? This type of study would help shed light on how close an establishment civic journalism newspaper gets to its community.
Additionally, future research should examine the agenda building function of organizations behind particular social causes. More should be known about how non-profit and advocacy groups are the media to ensure coverage of their issues. It would be interesting to know how homelessness came onto the agenda of the newspapers under study. It may not have been a top concern of readers, as was the case with the Star. So it may be journalists, editors or advocacy groups who put the issue on the agenda.
Research also should test whether readers are truly "mobilized" by mobilizing information. It would be interesting to know if, for example, homeless shelters in these cities received an increase in community awareness or donations as a result of increased press coverage.
Civic journalism requires additional research before we can assess its impact on the coverage of social issues, and what impact that may have on the public and policymakers. As past research indicates, journalists may have more power in setting the agenda for certain social causes. This study indicates civic journalist may use their agenda setting power not only to cover certain social problems more than others, but also to prescribe certain solutions and mobilize the public to act.
Table 1 Sources Used in Stories about Homelessness Indianapolis Charlotte Star Observer Official 29.5% * 18.2% Activist 37.3% 40.6% Homeless Person 11.6% 13.3% Volunteer 19.0% 28.0% Unaffiliated 2.6% 0 Total Count 268 143 % within newspaper 100% 100% n=411 p<.016 Phi=.17 Table 2 Likelihood of Including Solution-Oriented Content Indianapolis Charlotte Star Observer No solution offered 12.8% 2.1% Solution offered 87.2% 97.9% Total Count 47 47 % within newspaper 100% 100% n=94 p<.049 Phi=.20 Table 3 Likelihood of Including Mobilizing Information (MI) Indianapolis Charlotte Star Observer Includes MI 46.8% 66.0% Does not include MI 53.2% 34.0% Total Count 47 47 % within newspaper 100% 100% n=94 p<.061
(1.) Joe DePriest, "Church Feeds Hungry Souls," The Charlotte Observer, 7 October 2000, p. 1L.
(2.) Several case studies conducted by the Pew Center for Civic Journalism have described various civic journalism projects focused on race, crime and economic development. See Ester Thorson and Lewis Friedland, Civic Lessons: Report on Four Civic Journalism Projects (Philadelphia: Pew Charitable Trust, 1997). See also the Web site for the Pew Center for Civic Journalism,
(3.) Doris A. Graber, Mass Media and American Politics (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1997).
(4.) Ellen Hume, "The New Paradigm for News," ed. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 546 (July 1996): 141-153.
(5.) Sally J. McMillan et al. "Public Journalism: What Difference Does it Make to Editorial Content?" in Assessing Public Journalism, eds. Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Meyer, and Esther Thorson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998): 190.
(6.) Graber, Mass Media and American Politics; Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw, "The Agenda-Setting Function of the Mass Media," Public Opinion Quarterly 36, no. 2 (summer 1972): 176-187; Everett M. Rogers and James W. Dearing, "Agenda-Setting Research: Where Has It Been, Where Is It Going?" in Media Power in Politics, ed. Doris Graber (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2000); David Weaver, "Issue Salience and Public Opinion: Are There Consequences of Agenda Setting?" International Journal of Public Opinion Research 3, no. 1 (1.991): 53-68; David Weaver, "Media Agenda Setting and Elections: Voter Involvement or Alienation?" Political Communication 11, no. 4 (1994): 347-356.
(7.) Frank Denton and Esther Thorson, "Effects of a Multimedia Public Journalism Project on Political Knowledge and Attitudes," in Assessing Public Journalism, eds. Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Meyer, and Esther Thorson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998).
(8.) Davis Merritt and Jay Rosen, "Imagining Public Journalism," in Assessing Public Journalism, eds. Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Meyer, and Esther Thorson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998).
(9.) Hume, "New Paradigm," 150.
(10.) Ibid., Thorson and Friedland, Civic Lessons.
(11.) Graber, Mass Media and American Politics.
(12.) Ibid., 175.
(13.) David Weaver and Swanzy Nimley Elliot, "Who Sets the Agenda for the Media? A Study of Local Agenda-Building," Journalism Quarterly 62, no. 1 (1985): 87-94.
(14.) Denton and Thorson, "Effects of a Multimedia;" Thorson and Friedland, Civic Lessons; Lewis Friedland, Mira Sotirovic, and Katie Daily, "Public Journalism and Social Capital: The Case of Madison, Wisconsin," in Media Power in Politics, ed. Doris A. Graber (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2000); McMillan et al., "Public Journalism;" Rick Thames, "Public Journalism and the 1992 Elections," in Assessing Public Journalism, eds. Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Meyer, and Esther Thorson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998); Esther Thorson et al. "Audience Impact of a Multimedia Civic Journalism Project in a Small Midwestern Community," in Assessing Public Journalism, eds. Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Meyer, and Esther Thorson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998).
(15.) Thames, "Public Journalism."
(16.) Denton and Thorson, "Effects of a Multimedia."
(17.) Judy McGregor, Susan Fountaine, and Margie Comrie, "From Contest to Content: The Impact of Public Journalism on New Zealand Election Campaign Coverage," Political Communication 17, no. 2 (2000): 133-148.
(18.) McMillan et al., "Public Journalism."
(19.) Hume, "New Paradigm," 150.
(20.) D. Maddux, ed., International Year Book (New York: Editor & Publisher, 2000).
(21.) Thorson and Friedland, Civic Lessons.
(22.) Edmund B. Lambeth, "Public Journalism as a Democratic Practice," in Assessing Public Journalism, eds. Edmund B. Lambeth, Philip E. Meyer, and Esther Thorson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998); Thames, "Public Journalism;" Thorson and Friedland, Civic Lessons; Thorson et al., "Audience Impact of a Multimedia."
(23.) More information and articles about the Charlotte Observer's civic journalism projects can be found on the Pew Center for Civic Journalism's Web site,
(24.) One reporter lamented his task of attempting to institute some civic journalism experiments at the Star, which he referred to as the "public journalism ghetto." He was met by a lack of resources, no support from other newsroom staffers and little power to affect newsroom policies. See Bill Theobald's column, "Listening to the Public? Ghettoizing the Job," Civic Catalyst Newsletter, spring 1997, published by the Pew Center.
(25.) An article in the Star that reported on this project, for example, listed what the people of Indianapolis ranked as their top twenty issues at a meeting sponsored by the news station. See "Common Concerns," Indianapolis Star, 28 January 2001, p. D1.
(26.) Recent information about the homeless in Charlotte, N.C., is available online. See Charlotte-Mecklenburg Homeless Services Network Site,
(27.) "Homeless Veterans Assistance Foundation," Indianapolis Star, 1 December 2000, p. B3.
(28.) When coding length, a "1" represented stories containing less than 500 words, a "2" represented stories containing 500-1,000 words, a "3" represented stories containing over 1,000 words. Likewise, a "1" represented stories appearing inside any section, a "2" represented stories appearing on the front page of an inside section, and a "3" represented stories appearing on the front page of the main section.
(29.) McMillan et al., "Public Journalism."
(30.) Lemert et al., "Journalists and Mobilizing Information," Journalism Quarterly 54 (winter 1977): 721-726.
(31.) Friedland, Sotirovic, and Daily, "Public Journalism and Social Capital."
(32.) Denton and Thorson, "Effects of a Multimedia."
(33.) Lemert et al., "Journalists and Mobilizing Information."
Moscowitz is a doctoral student in the School of Journalism at Indiana University-Bloomington. The author thanks David H. Weaver, Paul S. Voakes, Maria Elizabeth Grabe and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions.…
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Publication information: Article title: Civic Approach Not So Different from Traditional Model.(reporting on Homelessness). Contributors: Moscowitz, Leigh - Author. Journal title: Newspaper Research Journal. Volume: 23. Issue: 4 Publication date: Fall 2002. Page number: 62+. © 1999 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.
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