Student Research Projects

A Current Look at College Newspaper Content from Various Collegiate Environments

Student Thomas Mills '15
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Communication
Course Independent Study


This study examines whether the content of college newspapers differs depending on the presence of a communication program at the institution or the size of the school as determined by data reported in The College Blue Book. This content analysis extends earlier work with a reification of variables to describe the content of 71 college newspapers by examining elements such as use of advertising, online presence, social media information, type of news stories and use of wire content and infographics. Newspapers with a communication program at the corresponding institution were significantly more likely to report hard news stories on the front page than were newspapers without a communication program at that school. Additionally, newspapers with a communication program were significantly more likely to include wire content in the publication than were publications with no communication program. No differences were detected in content of the publication based on size of the school. Advertisements and websites are mainstays of the college newspaper, with a full 91.5% of the publications including ads and 80.3% indicating a newspaper website. However, elements such as social media presence, infographics, original illustrations and use of wire services varied widely. Weekly publications and tabloid style were most common, and the median length was 12 pages. Data were coded by two independent coders, and a Cohen’s kappa of .80 or higher was found for all variables, determining acceptable intercoder reliability rates.


Presented with Dr. Lisa Payne at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans, 1 August 2013