M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Journalism
Press--Chicago metropolitan area; Reporters and reporting; Chicago Suburban Area (Ill.)
Despite its limitations and problems, some small amount of investigative reporting exists in the Chicago suburban press. While Chicago suburban newsmen are satisfied with the quality of investigative reporting that they have seen and done, they are less than satisfied with the quantity and would like to see more done. A number of barriers block additional investigative reporting in the Chicago suburban press, however, primarily a lack of skills on the parts of the reporter and the editor involved in the investigation, and economics, usually interpreted in terms of staff time. Chicago suburban journalists believe that their suburban newspapers should cover local governments and that investigative reporting deals with governmental officials. But research into this area of journalismis lacking. Suburbia was examined and it was discovered that no all-encompassing definition exists, most probably due to the changing and diversified nature of these nonurban metropolitan area communities. That nebulous area known as suburbia is unique from urban and rural areas and is demanding attention, having emerged in 1970 as more populous than either urban centers or rural communities. Suburbanites are a vulnerable people. They have invested much in their community and require reinforcement that their lifestyle is the best that they can afford and that they are protected from unscrupulous governmental officials. Suburban newspapers could easily fill this need with extensive coverage of local news stories and vigilant coverage of local government. Further, suburban newspapers have a viable financial base in suburbia as long as they can meet the needs of suburbanites. Many problems recently have clouded the Suburban Dream, bringing city-sized problems into the borders of the suburbs. Because of such problems, investigative reporting is emerging as an important social force in Chicago suburban newspapers. A number of suburban officials have recently been indicted and convicted of misfeasance and malfeasance, and newspapers have a social responsibility to inform the public of such wrongdoing in government. This "bad" news as well as the "good" news, once the mainstay of suburban newspapers, both belong in Chicago suburban newspapers. Chicago suburban newsmen basically agree with the commonly accepted view of investigative reporting: that it deals with public officials, that it reveals secret activities of these officials, that it is based on the elements of good news reporting, and that it is based on a public service to the community. The 3,442 suburban newspapers in the United States reach 37.75 million readers. More than 37 percent of the United States population in 1970 lived in suburban areas. Suburban newsmen in the Chicago area feel that they can compete with the Chicago metropolitan dailies. Surely, such facts as these indicate a need for study, observation, and diligent promotion of this most important area of journalism. Three approaches were used to collect data for this study. Thirteen Chicago suburban newsmen were interviewed in depth; eighty-nine Chicago suburban newspapers are represented in the results of a questionnaire which accounts for almost half of the suburban newspapers in the Chicago area, which was defined as nonurban Cook, DuPage, Lake, and Will counties; and questions regarding the position, education, and experience of the respondents were cross tabulated. Complete generalizations were not meant to be drawn, since this was a heuristic study of an area in which little research has been done. However, both the studies of suburbia and investigative reporting were related to Chicago suburban journalism as a basis onto which these findings might be placed. Areas for further study are included in the hope that continued research into this very dynamic and important field will ensue.
Durkin, Mary Eleanor, "Investigative reporting in Chicago suburban newspapers" (1976). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 3666.
vi, 241 pages
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