Selling the press: Change and the family newspaper

Susan M Brockus, Purdue University


Family members from six family-owned newspapers sold to media corporations in the past decade were interviewed to gain their perceptions on what it is like to grow up in, commit to, and ultimately sell the family newspaper after generations of ownership. A key premise of this study is that newspaper ownership is rarely approached from the perspective of the families who are relinquishing their newspapers to corporate ownership. Since family newspapers once dominated the nation's media landscape, they are explored as the root of media consolidation and a critical place to start toward understanding what has fundamentally changed with the passage of countless community newspapers from family to corporate ownership. The combination of grounded analysis of interviews and rhetorical analysis of published texts provides data that both supports and extends current study of newspaper ownership, with emergent themes consistently reflecting the rise of Agency over Purpose (Burke, 1969a); focus on technical activities over personal relations (Halbwachs, 1992); and incursion of economic space into life space (Friedmann, 1988). In short, the family newspaper owners interviewed demonstrated particular awareness of the importance of people, place, and purpose in discussion of their experiences in the newspaper business.




Boyd, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mass media|Journalism

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