Community structure, the media and child molestation news stories: what happens to objectivity when it goes to trial?

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This study evaluated the effects of structural pluralism on the objective reporting of newspapers when covering cases of child molestation by teachers. Eight newspapers were selected covering four different molestation cases. A content analysis was conducted to analyze the usage of frames, hard or soft news, and the objective balance of assertions. Statistical analysis showed no difference in objective sourcing between the newspapers in the low pluralistic community and the high pluralistic community. Also, the newspapers showed little difference in the use of conflict frames, consent frames and story type (hard or soft news). While the results cannot be generalized beyond the sample used, the results do suggest some ramifications for structural pluralism research in the future, and also suggest it may be important to study the ability of small newspapers to mimic larger papers in the Internet age.

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