A comprehensive quality management model for community newspapers
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The quality of South African (and indeed global) journalism has been under close scrutiny for several years, resulting in criticism regarding issues such as a lack of depth, diversity and accuracy. A lack of effective and efficient media management is one factor influencing the quality of journalism in both the mainstream and community media sectors. This study focuses on traditional commercial community newspapers that represent the needs, interests and opinions of a demographically and ideologically diverse readership. These newspapers are distinctive, but remain subjected to the same journalism standards as mainstream media because of the vital role they play in creating a platform for intimate community news. Managing quality pro–actively, continuously and across organisational levels is best accomplished within a Total Quality Management framework, which requires organisation–wide commitment to and responsibility for quality. Media products such as community newspapers offer dual, complementary products of (intangible) content and (tangible) distribution, which are inseparable. Moreover, media products are subject to the cultural preferences and existing communication infrastructure of specific geographic markets. Following a systems– and process–based approach simplifies quality management in such complex organisations, because it offers consistent, predictable results and focused improvement opportunities. The systems approach also recognises the relationship between the organisation and its external environment, which is essential in media management. The main objective of this exploratory study is thus to create a comprehensive quality management model, taking the nature and characteristics of quality community newspapers and the variables that influence quality in these organisations into account. This model could be a useful tool for owners, managers and editors at community newspapers to manage and improve quality in and across all functions and production processes in their organisations.
- Humanities