January 28, 2016 Last Updated 8:00 am

For Iowa daily newspapers, the campaign is about local events; The Oregonian sees spike in reader comments due to standoff

Morning Brief: While the national media obsesses over Donald Trump’s debate ploy, local Iowa newspapers remain focused on the candidates visits through their towns

The Iowa caucuses are only five days away and tonight the Republicans will hold their last debate before citizens gather for their unique way of conducting a primary. For local daily newspapers, though, the caucuses are less likely to the lead story than other news, probably a sign of exhaustion.

Muscatine Journal newspaperThe Donald won’t be at tonight’s event, and though the NYT this morning is saying that his action “steals the spotlight” none of the metro papers in Iowa seem to think so. In Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, the lead story concerns whether the school’s football players violated NCAA rules by appearing on stage with Donald Trump at a rally (not likely).

The Muscatine Journal, a Lee Enterprises newspaper with just under 8K in circulation, is preparing for the candidates to pour in before the caucuses, publishing a schedule which shows Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and former President Bill Clinton all preparing to “breeze through” town as part of last minute campaign stops.

The Hawk Eye newspaperToday the paper is featuring Carly Fiorina on its front page as the former HP chief executive stopped in town, speaking at Elly’s Tea and Coffee House. The resulting story could easily have been mistaken for a campaign press release, with no mention at all of the candidate’s attacks on Planned Parenthood and this week’s grand jury indictment of those behind the controversial videos.

As one expect, coverage of the caucuses in Iowa daily papers is all about who is appearing where. The easiest way to be neutral is to cover the candidates one by one as they come through town – if they don’t come through town then coverage goes to someone else.

This may be the one thing national pundits might be missing: that while The Donald dominates the national news, holding huge rallies in large cities, at the local level things look very different. We’ll see if this translates into some surprises come Monday.

The Oregonian is discovering the joys of huge web traffic thanks to the ongoing stand at the alter National Wildlife Refuge. Following a deadly confrontation that resulted in the arrest of seven of the occupiers and the death of militant spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, reader comments spiked, with one story approaching 6,000 comments before the thread was closed down.

The Oregonian comments newspaper Yesterday, Ammon Bundy told those remaining in the refuge to “stand down and go home” – delivering the message through his attorney. Likely, he was told it might be better for him to do so when it comes time for sentencing.

For The Oregonian, which has been running a live blog in order to deliver continuous coverage of the 27 day standoff, it may mean the story is reaching the end of the line. That’s good for local residents, the law enforcement officers involved, and probably for the protesters as well, but for the paper it will mean a return to normalcy and all those commenters leaving.

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