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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1979. Major: Journalism.


Copyright 1979, the author. Used by permission.


The winter of 1977-78 saw a sharp national increase in media attention devoted to farm problems.Angry over low farm prices and rising expenses, farmers organized tractor cavalcades and went to state capitols and Washington, D.C. to threaten a “farm strike” and press their demand for 100 percent parity.They also lobbied legislators and sought all means possible to publicize their grievances.

Standing staunchly alongside their men were their wives and mothers.In some areas some of the most vocal spokespersons for the farm demands were women.Economics was just one of their concerns.

Who are these new farm women? How do they feel about their lives?How good a job do they feel that the news media are doing of portraying the rural scene, especially the concerns of rural women?Are the media responding to the needs of an important segment of their audience?

It is those questions that this study set out to explore with the goal of seeing whether further research into the relationship between rural women and the news media might prove profitable.

A series of twelve open-ended interviews with young Nebraska farm women was performed.All interviews took place in the homes of subjects during the spring and summer of 1978.

The study clearly indicates a need for more study of the relationship between farm women and mass media.Time after time during the interviews, the women expressed the belief that no one knows who they are or what they do.Far from gaining in “self-enhancing, self-supporting directions” from their contacts with much of the media, the women expressed beliefs that they were ignored or ridiculed by media representatives who couldn’t possibly understand what their lives are all about.

Advisor: Wilma Crumley