Date of Award

Summer 1991

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Murphy, Sharon

Second Advisor

Thorn, William

Third Advisor

Arnold, James W.

Abstract

The Red River Star in Moorhead, Minnesota was one of the first newspapers in Clay County and the region. A detailed examination of the paper had never been done. Furthermore, it was not known whether an in-depth study would be warranted as a means of uncovering factual information or merely to illustrate what one frontier editor found interesting or important enough to print. This thesis laid the groundwork for such a study by determining if the paper could confidently be used as an accurate recorder of events and information about Moorhead and the Valley in its early days. Volume # 1 (July 6, 1872 - September 13, 1873) was examined to answer the question: Did the editor of the Red River Star accurately report events and information as recorded in historical documents and town records? Ten categories were selected to organize material into manageable segments. The categories were: agriculture, amusements, economics, education, government, our community/our region, religion, social welfare/safety, transportation, and weather. Events (or portions of historical data) from Moorhead and the Red River Valley were then selected on the basis of their (1) relevance to the ten categories, (2) correspondence with the time period being examined, (3) verifiability, and (4) relevance as reportable news. Volume # 1 of the Red River Star was then systematically read to ascertain three things: (1) if the information was reported; (2) if it was reported accurate 1 y; and (3) how Moorhead was · portrayed on categorical items affecting the town's identity or growth. The study concluded that a determination of "accuracy" was difficult to ascertain with finality, but that a pattern of credibility was established by the paper overall. If the frontier nature of the paper is taken into account, the Red River Star can reasonably and confidently be analyzed for historical truths.

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