Newspapers in America are lynchpins of modern society, operating both as generators and purveyors of information and as gadflies probing the actions of large organizations, especially business and government. Newspapers are journalistic organizations that operate in cultures where history and oral traditions play large roles in informing expected behaviors. Management and leadership in these organizations often operate much the same way as managers of news organizations operated in the 18th and 19th Centuries. In newspaper newsrooms leaders are often not trained for the role and oftentimes are uncomfortable with the responsibilities of leadership positions. This discomfort arises in part because of the ethos of journalism which reflexively looks skeptically at formal hierarchies and business-based management processes. This culture of skepticism and lack of leadership focus may have been linked to recent breakdowns in quality and organizational integrity in major U.S. newspapers. The current study is one of the few studies to look at perceptions of leadership in newsrooms and to examine possible correlations between the leadership behaviors that appointed leaders are performing and perceptions of leadership actions by those being led. Leadership styles as defined by the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire by people at three constructed hierarchical levels in daily newspaper organizations in the United States. This study suggests that there are significant differences in attitudes about leadership among Business Managers, Editorial Leaders and News Preparers in American newspapers. Across the board, management appears to have a more sanguine and effective view of the job it is doing than do subordinates. The study is done at a time of continuing consolidation and change in the newspaper industry, a time marked by continued decline in readership and questions about the future of newspapers.
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