Date of Award

Spring 1990

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Reedy, George E.

Second Advisor

Fleet, Michael

Third Advisor

Sokolnicki, Alfred J.


This study examines the political and professional views of Nicaraguan journalists. It is based on a survey of 112 Nicaraguan journalists conducted during the summer of 1989 in Nicaragua's capital city of Managua. Valid questionaires were returned by 102 of those surveyed, yielding a sample of convenience. Using scales of items from questionaires by Johnstone, Slawski and Bowman (1976) and Weaver and Wilhoit (1986), this research measures the influence of ideology on Nicaraguan Journalists' sense of autonomy. Various Nicaraguan and U.S. authors have suggested ideology has a strong effect on how journalists work and the type of material they produce. Personal interviews added additional information and feedback on the questionaires. Although the nature of news organizations imposes restrictive norms on all journalists, Nicaraguan journalists reported a high level of autonomy in their work. Individual journalists reported that they shared their organization's perspectives. Their answers to standard questions place journalists and media supporting the Sandinista government to the left and those supporting the National Opposition Union (UNO) to the right of center. On the other hand, significant differences between UNO and Sandinista journalists emerge in only five of 55 items measuring autonomy and professional values. Differences are negligible in the scale measuring journalistic autonomy, although journalists supporting UNO are less likely to have their work changed by others. In Nicaragua, ideology serves as the foundation of value consensus within media organizations. Despite claims of moral superiority for their respective group from theoreticians from the political right and left, the study data are ambiguous in determining the effects of ideology on journalistic autonomy in Nicaragua. On one hand, Nicaraguan journalists appear to be in agreement with the editorial policies of their news organizations, and feel they enjoy a high degree of autonomy. On the other, social psychological studies indicate that organizations with shared values and high morale get higher levels of performance from their personnel based on shared goals. With the end of the Cold War the polarity between left and right may be diminishing. In the later 1989s Sandinista government moved increasingly toward a free market economy and Latin American media scholars found mutual cooperation between private and government media increasingly successful. The Nicaraguan media are closely affiliated to forces which which formally settled, the differences in armed combat. Nicaragua's partisan media offer public forums for issues raised by political parties and the groups they vie to represent. The Nicaraguan's present democratic process increasingly resolves these through electoral processes and political compromises. The study indicates an understanding of the ideology and political affiliations of Nicaraguan journalists and mediais useful in understanding the roles they play in formulating political compromises among the political groupings. Nicaraguan journalists feel they enjoy a high level of autonomy working within this process to advance the goals of the political groupings they support. Nicaraguan media have taken on a meditative role as issues are increasingly resolved by ballots rather than bullets.