Publication Date

Spring 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Journalism and Mass Communications


Scott Fosdick


agriculture, journalism, newspaper, San Jose Mercury, Santa Clara, Silicon Valley

Subject Areas

Mass Communications; Agriculture, General; History, United States


This research was conducted to explore how the San Jose Mercury News (formerly San Jose Mercury Herald) covered the Santa Clara Valley's transition from an agricultural community known as "The Valley of Heart's Delight" to Silicon Valley, focusing on the changes made in the reporting of farm and ranch news.

The time period surveyed in this thesis is from 1935 to 2000. The purpose was to establish any changes to reporting agricultural news over the years. A social history of agricultural journalism in the San Jose Mercury News over a 65-year period provided insight into how the farming industry was portrayed by this publication.

The study revealed three major frames within the time period: first, agriculture as a livelihood; second, agriculture as an industry; third, agriculture as a novelty. There was a significant change in reporting over the 65-year period, and as the area transitioned into Silicon Valley, agricultural reporting largely disappeared from the paper. The paper was shown to be an early adopter of new technology coverage and was quick to cover the area's transition from a farming community to a high-tech center.