Recent work highlights the fact that there are clear differences in the quality of the news product offered by different news outlets. What is not clear is why some news outlets consistently produce a more informative and less superficial news product while others do not. Media scholars suggesting an institutional view of the news media have acknowledged the idea that institutions can be multi-layered, and point to the need to understand specific institutional aspects of the media at all levels. Building from the idea that we can benefit from understanding the institutional similarities and differences between local media outlets, this article examines the quality or issue substance in campaign news coverage as a function of the institutional arrangements within media outlets and their economic and political contexts. 2011 Taylor & Francis.