Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

First Advisor

Douglas R. Davis

Second Advisor

Ryan Niemeyer

Third Advisor

Charles D. Mitchell


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



This case study uses qualitative interviews with administrators, advisers, former editors, and others, along with researcher observations and more than 50 years of archival documents to construct a comprehensive portrait of the history, successes, and challenges of the student newspaper program at Oxford High School, and how administrative decision making has affected that success and vice versa. The OHS student newspaper, called the Charger since the late 1980s, has consistently ranked at or near the top of the best high school newspapers in Mississippi and has at times been named one of the top high school newspapers in the nation. The study finds that neither the Charger nor its forerunners have ever been subject to any type of administrative prior review or restraint, and, not unrelated, finds the newspaper to have had a significant impact on the school, community, and the students whose charge it has been to produce and publish it. The study identifies a successive series of school leaders who have valued the program, committed resources to it, and entrusted students with the autonomy to report on school and community issues, even/especially uncomfortable ones, without fear of interference or reprisal from above. This hands-off philosophy of leadership has at times led to conflicts over unsavory coverage and has strained relationships between school leaders and the journalism adviser/staff, all of which is also detailed and analyzed in the study.



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