Intelligencer is a blog featuring thoughtful essays on mass communication history teaching and research as well as highlighting the work of our members.

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  • 17 May 2023 7:35 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Mike Conway 

    AJHA is very generous with its resources. Now it’s time to bring the resources in line with the generosity. For the past few years, AJHA has been spending much more than it is bringing in. This includes both operating expenses and the convention costs. The AJHA Board just voted unanimously to double our regular membership dues over the next three years and also to raise the convention registration fee to bring us closer to breaking even on convention expenses. 

    These increases alone will not bring our current expenses in line with revenue. This is the first of three steps we believe AJHA needs to take to ensure the long-term viability of the organization.

    Membership Dues

    The annual dues will increase incrementally annually starting in August 2023. Regular membership will increase to $60 for regular members, $35 for student and retired members, and $1,000 for a lifetime membership. If you renew your membership before August, you can pay the lower rate.

    In June 2024, regular membership will increase to $75, student and retired memberships to $45, and lifetime memberships will cost $1250.

    In June 2025, regular membership will increase to $90, student and retired membership will be $50, and lifetime memberships will rise to $1,500.

    It is important to remember that AJHA doesn’t have wasteful spending. As an all-volunteer organization, AJHA is financially lean. Quite frankly, the overspending is a yearly effort to find ways to encourage and reward scholars for their work in journalism and media history. 

    After the Memphis conference, Finance Officer Lisa Parcell, Treasurer Ken Ward and I started digging into the numbers. We found that over the past three years, AJHA spent roughly 25% of the money it had in reserve.  We are spending roughly $12,000 more than we bring in each year. If that trend continues, the organization could have run out of money in 5-7 years.

    Once again, there isn’t anything nefarious about this spending. We had a cushion of money in reserve and a non-profit organization is not supposed to hoard its money. After researching our budget issues, we chose to not make any changes to American Journalism. Because of our contract with Taylor and Francis, our journal pays for itself and the extra money is used to cover some of our other expenses.   

    Even by doubling our membership dues to $90 for regular members, AJHA dues are by far the lowest of any national academic organization of which we are aware, especially one that produces academic journals. That rate brings in roughly $8,000 a year. Since we are spending roughly $12,000 more a year than we receive, you can start to see the serious nature of our situation.  

    For comparison, here are rough numbers for annual dues for other organizations: AEJMC + History Division-depending on your salary is likely close to $200; ICA-roughly $200; Broadcast Education Association - $130; Oral History Association-$100; Association of Moving Image Archivists-$185.

    Convention Registration

    Many years ago, the AJHA Board locked in our convention registration fee at $245 for early registration and $270 closer to the date. Unfortunately, that amount no longer comes close to the AJHA goal of breaking even on our annual conference. It is definitely harder to find sponsors that used to cover some of the features of our conference. We spent around $9,000 more than we received from registration and sponsorships in Memphis in 2022.

    The Board has voted unanimously to allow the AJHA Conference Coordinator and Treasurer to set the registration fee depending on the expected costs of running the conference. They are working on those numbers now and the registration fee for our September conference in Columbus, OH will be decided by the time we open registration this summer.  This will probably also include increases to our add-on events including the Historic Tour and the Gala.  

    We were very relieved to find last year in Memphis after two years of online conferences that AJHA members were ready to get back in person. We had 119 people register, which is roughly the number of people who attended our conferences in the years leading up to the pandemic.

    Membership Survey

    As mentioned above, these financial changes will not bring AJHA’s spending back in line with revenue, but they will provide more time to consider what we need to do in the future.

    The second step is to have a better idea of what you value as a member of AJHA.

    As part of that discussion, we will be conducting a membership survey this summer to get your opinions on how we should be spending our money, both for the convention and for the general organization. We will be asking what parts of the organization are most important for us to continue and which ones might be costing more than we can afford. We will also ask those questions about specific parts of the convention in case we need to find ways to bring down the costs.

    Please be sure to fill out that survey when we send it your way. The AJHA Board can use your feedback when it needs to make hard choices on future budgets, and the Conference Coordinator will have insight into what parts of our annual conference are most valuable to you.

    AJHA Endowment Fund

    The American Journalism Historians Association has been an important part of journalism history research for more than 40 years, through the organization itself, the American Journalism journal, and the annual convention. We believe it is critical that journalism historians continue to have AJHA into the future to provide guidance and at the very least, another journal to showcase our work. For many of us, we would not have had the success in our research and teaching if not for AJHA.

    To ensure that today’s journalism historians and those in the future also have this organization and its resources, the third step to address our finances includes creating an endowment fund to hopefully ease our money issues. Lisa, Ken, Joe Campbell, and I have already had a few meetings on this idea and have a general idea of how we’d like to proceed. We set it aside this year to concentrate on the immediate budget issues, but we do see it as an important third step in AJHA’s financial future.

    If you’d like to help AJHA with an endowment fundraising effort, let us know.

    Raising dues and other costs hasn’t been my favorite task as AJHA President, but I think we all feel it is our duty to make sure this organization can do for current and future journalism historians what it has done for us.

  • 17 May 2023 3:42 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Mark Bernhardt

    My book project American Opportunity, American Hospitality: Marginalized Peoples’ Access to the Middle Class in 1950s Sitcoms as Cold War Propaganda explores how during the 1950s television executives and corporate sponsors used situation comedies to address Cold War critiques of capitalism through portrayals of those outside the white, Anglo-Saxon, married middle-class norm. They constructed a narrative that rebuffed claims that prosperity was not available to all in the ways they dealt with class, gender, race, and ethnicity, attempting to alleviate lingering concerns from the Great Depression about individuals’ susceptibility to poverty and oppose Soviet attribution of economic inequality to oppression of specific social groups. In looking at sitcoms from this perspective, I document the ways they offered messages that served to reassure viewers capitalism was fair and Soviet assertions erroneous by offering palatable explanations for why some did not attain middle-class status in that the poor had only themselves to blame for their state and dismissing systemic causes for why poverty persisted, such as failed political policy, gender inequality, or racism.

    Originally, I intended to conduct my research in 2021 at the UCLA Film and Television archive to view rare episodes only available on film from the series Beulah, The Jack Benny Show, The Goldbergs, and Mr. Peepers. However, because of COVID restrictions, which remained in place through summer 2022, I had to change my plans. Instead, I went to the Library of Congress in May 2022, where I viewed 23 episodes of The Gale Storm Show and 38 episodes of My Little Margie in the library’s special collections that are only available on film.

    The episodes of The Gale Storm Show and My Little Margie provide material for my discussion of gender. For women in the 1950s, the societal ideal was that they marry young and become housewives who care for their children. Some sitcoms did portray single young women in the period before marriage who held jobs to support themselves. These women typically did not make much money though, making it clear that joining the middle class required finding a husband who could provide a more financially stable life. Such television messages glossed over women’s limited job prospects and pay inequality by normalizing their financial struggles as a brief stage women went through before finding a husband. Such messaging also stands in contrast to series with lead male characters who are bachelor that benefit from male economic privilege.

    The Gale Storm Show addresses this employment situation. Gale, however, benefits from not having to pay for housing because she works on a cruise ship. As such, her income allows her to easily support herself. Still, marriage is the goal, and she has relationships with various men on the ship throughout the series.

    My Little Margie offers a different take on how single women in sitcoms bided their time until marriage in that Margie lives with her wealthy father. Receiving an allowance from him, Margie is not obligated to work. A point of contention between Margie and her father though is that Margie’s regular boyfriend is not particularly bright and cannot keep a job, spending more time in the unemployment office than working. Periodically she does date more economically successful men, but her father fears she will make a bad marriage decision and end up poor if he does not continue to support her.

    What I was able to glean from the episodes available at the Library of Congress helps complete my viewing of these two series. I have also looked at many other series that depict the economic status of women in the 1950s: Bachelor Father, Beulah, The Great Gildersleeve, Hey Jeannie, It’s Always Jan, Our Miss Brooks, Ann Sothern Show, Betty Hutton Show, Eve Arden Show, Meet Millie, My Friend Irma, and Private Secretary. Together, these series paint a complex picture of social expectations for single women, how single women support themselves (or are supported), and the importance of marrying the right man.

    Dr. Mark Bernhardt is a professor in the History Department at Jackson State University. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Riverside. His research examines how media engage in public discourse about imperialism and its legacy in the transnational North American West, U.S. involvement in wars, social and cultural issues surrounding crime, and representations of marginalized peoples.

  • 16 May 2023 12:51 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Jon Marshall

    Have you ever been a struggling graduate student? Do you like graduate students? Do you care about the future of journalism history scholarship? Are you a kind and generous person who likes helping others? Or do you just have a general fondness for AJHA?

    Surely, your answer is “yes” to at least one of these questions. If that’s the case (or even if you’re a grumpy person who doesn’t like students but wants a chance to redeem your soul), now is your opportunity to do some good by donating items to the AJHA silent auction for the benefit of our graduate students.

    Yes, all of the thrills and fun of the auction will be back again this year at our annual conference in Columbus. All money raised goes directly to graduate student conference travel, a major part of the revenue needed for our Michael S. Sweeney Graduate Student Travel Stipend. For many students, the conference will be impossible to attend without the stipend. Last year we raised more than $1,700 in Memphis, and as a result we can guarantee that graduate students who are on the Columbus conference program will receive at least $100 from the Sweeney Stipend. With your help, we can continue to increase that amount.

    What to donate for the auction? Perhaps a package of special goodies from your hometown or university. Or historic books, newspapers, magazines, broadsheets or journalism and history ephemera such as coffee cups, glasses, calendars and T-shirts. Maybe someone you know has extra airline miles or a week at a vacation home that they’d be willing to donate. And, of course, wine and spirits are always popular with the AJHA crowd. If you have several items that would go well together as a package, that’s even better and will make the bidding process easier.

    We’ll list the auction items on an online bidding platform before and during the conference. The items will be on display in Columbus, and we’ll give them over to the winning bidders before the end of the conference. Once you are in Columbus, you can see the actual items and keep track of the bidding, paying online if you win and receiving your prize at the AJHA business meeting on Saturday.

    Donating an auction item is easy. Just fill out this short form and then bring the item to Columbus with you.

    If you have questions about the auction or want to volunteer to help, please contact me at

  • 16 May 2023 5:01 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How were you first introduced to AJHA? 

    University of Georgia professor Janice Hume first introduced me to the American Journalism Historians Association and encouraged me to attend my first conference in Wichita, Kansas, in 2006. I vividly remember watching Hume, Mike Sweeney and company karaoke at this particular conference, and I knew that this might be the most entertaining group of historians that I had ever encountered. Nearly twenty years later, AJHA remains one of my favorite academic associations because of the warm and supportive people associated with it and the amazing memories I’ve made while attending conferences. 

    What’s your most memorable moment associated with AJHA?

    Well, that’s a tough question. I have been honored a couple of times by AJHA, and while I am certainly grateful for those two awards (the rising scholar award and the national award for excellence in teaching), I would have to say that the memories that most stick out to me (aside of that first one I noted) is watching mentors and friends who have meant so much to me, personally—folks like Janice Hume, Earnest Perry, Mike Sweeney, Dianne Bragg, Kathy Roberts Forde, and so many others, be honored at this conference. I honestly am so grateful for this community and for the memories associated with AJHA. I’ve always said that AJHA is much more like academic family than any group I’ve ever known. 

    What’s the most important lesson that this academic community has taught you?

    I’m not certain that I could narrow it to just one lesson, but I’ll try. I certainly think that this academic community taught me the value of supporting and collaborating with each other. I have had the chance to collaborate with many community members associated with this conference over the years—by sharing advice and encouragement, by offering feedback on individual and collaborative projects, by developing special panels and essays about the importance of integrating theory and women’s history into media history, on an edited volume about Ida B. Wells-Barnett, on a presidential podcast, and that only scratches the surface.

    What hobbies do you have outside academia?

    One of my favorite pastimes is hiking. Since arriving on Rocky Top back in 2010, I’ve hiked more than half the 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains, and despite suffering a broken ankle last summer, I still hope to hike the entire Appalachian Trail one day. Aside of that main hobby, I absolutely love cheering on and supporting my almost eight-year-old son Joseph and when I get the chance, watching movies, listening to live music and reading a good book. 

    Lori Amber Roessnera professor in the University of Tennessee's School of Journalism & Electronic Media, teaches and studies media history and its relationship to cultural phenomena and practices, including the operation of politics, the negotiation of public images and collective memories, and the construction of race, gender, and class. Since 2014, she has published two books, including Inventing Baseball Heroes: Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and the Sporting Press in America (LSU Press, 2014) and Jimmy Carter and the Birth of the Marathon Media Campaign (LSU Press, 2020), and co-edited Political Pioneer of the Press: Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Her Transnational Crusade for Social Justice (Lexington Books, 2018). Her earlier journal-length cultural histories appeared in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Journalism History, among others.

  • 16 May 2023 4:58 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Debbie van Tuyll

    We’re still about a month out from the deadline for paper submissions, but the work of organizing the program has already begun.

    First Vice President Tracy Lucht and I had a Zoom meeting a week ago to talk about what my role as second vice president (and thus conference program organizer) involves. She is so efficient and well organized, that she provided examples of all the different kinds of emails that go out to all the different constituencies, and then she walked me through everything in our meeting.

    What struck me as Tracy and I talked was all the moving parts that are involved in bringing the annual conference to fruition. I’ll be collaborating with Gerry Lanosga and members of the research committee that he chairs to receive the list of accepted papers and panels. Then, I’ll use that list to put together and schedule sessions and panels, collaborate with Executive Director Erika Pribanic-Smith and Convention Committee Chair Caryl Cooper insure all the special events and activities have a place on the program. They will be the first to receive my proposed program. Next, I’ll be in contact with our membership around mid-summer to recruit session moderators and obtain advertisements for the program. I think before my summer is over, I’ll have a chance to touch base with most, if not all, of our membership.

    I’m a bit intimidated but also a bit intrigued.

    Looking from the outside (since I’ve never done this before the way AJHA does it), it seems to me that I’ll essentially be putting together a jigsaw puzzle and then collaborating with colleagues to glue it down and shellac it so that it can get “framed” as the final program booklet that will be distributed at the convention. But I’m looking forward to all that. The AJHA annual conference has long been one of my favorites, and I’m happy to do whatever I can to make sure it happens and that it’s a great experience for those who attend.

    One of the things I always tell younger colleagues who are presenting at the AJHA conference for the first time is that our approach as an organization and as members of that organization is to offer affirming, formative advice rather than trying to tear other researchers down and make them feel small. This is a friendly conference, and everyone in any audience is there to cheer presenters on.

    I hope you all will be submitting papers and panels and willing to help out as paper judges and moderators. I’ve been coming to the AJHA conference since the late 1990s. It’s been one of the cornerstones of my career. The smaller size of the conference makes it much more comfortable than one of those mega-conventions that attract thousands of attendees and make it impossible, really, to build relationships with other researchers. Reviewer comments on conference papers always helped me revise my work into a strong journal article or book chapter, and, of course, there are always new and old colleagues to catch up with and to build collaborations with.

    Debbie van Tuyll is a Professor Emerita at the Department of Communications at Augusta University and the Second Vice President of AJHA. 

  • 17 Apr 2023 12:29 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    Adapted from the preface to UNDAUNTED: How Women Changed American Journalism. To be published by A.A. Knopf in May. Copyright 2023 by Brooke Kroeger.

    By Brooke Kroeger

    Undaunted makes no claim to being all-inclusive. Rather, it seeks to share in a representative way how women have fared in American journalism, a profession that men have dominated in the 180 years since mass media began.

    To arrive at the best way to tell the story, I began with two search terms, “women” and “journalism,” applied together, decade by decade, to every relevant database from 1840 to the present. The approach was hardly scientific but provided consistency. It also gave me a good sense of the conditions that governed the presence and place of women as journalists, the ideas about them that prevailed in each period, and how those ideas changed, or did not change, over time. It became possible to identify the individuals whose achievements received the most attention. I considered how and why some women attracted publicity and if and how their stories fit into the wider context of women’s advancement. Then came the winnowing.

    The telling is chronological. It gives precedence to the episodes that dealt with or dovetailed with the most significant news events and trends of each period. That meant leaving out many stories and people I would have liked to include.

    Twelve questions guided me. Which stories best illustrated what women were up against in their professional lives? How or why did the most successful women first get in the door? Who were the true trailblazers and pioneers? Assuming talent and hard work, how much did background, privilege, strategy, charisma, style, looks, advocacy, or luck figure in their ascent? How well did women manage their successes and failures, their celebrity and censure? Were they “womanly” or “manly” in their reporting and writing or in their editorial vision? What impact did they have on the nation’s news diet and on the profession? Whom among women has the wider journalism community chosen to honor? Which qualities and characteristics fairly or unfairly attributed to women brought condemnation? Which brought respect? How did newsroom politics figure? Have women made a difference?

    I could not resist including some related anecdotes that were too good to omit, but in the interest of a reasonable page count I removed many names, including bylines that deserved to be in the text. If readers find themselves asking, “But what about ____?” the notes section contains many of those answers.

    I found value in tracing the way some outstanding careers were built over decades and endeavored to fairly praise men who gave deserving women an opportunity when it was not fashionable or usual to do so. Some of them might well have met a #MeToo-like fate had such a movement existed in their day. Others, because of the timing, did. The epilogue briefly details the social and cultural currents roiling in the early 2020s as my work on this book came to an end. It surprised me that the intertwining of gender and race would be such an unbroken through line and that the industry’s economic crises and manpower shortages at various points have proved as effective as, if not more effective than, changes in the law for creating opportunity for woman journalists, especially in the most coveted jobs.

    In trying to understand the chances women seized on and the impediments they overcame, I have at times used a twenty-first-century lens to reflect on attitudes, impressions, and policies that stood unquestioned in their own day. Although the all-too-recurring theme right up to the present is progress followed by setback, it does make the triumphs seem all the sweeter.

    In writing the biographies of Nellie Bly and Fannie Hurst and the history of undercover reporting, I engaged with many of the memoirs, biographies, archives, articles, oral histories, and studies [so many the work of AJHA stalwarts] that anchor this book. (Bly lived from 1864 to 1922; Hurst, from 1885 to 1968.) Journalism has been the world I’ve lived in, worked in, studied, written about, and taught for more than fifty years. Yet only for Undaunted did I find myself considering the place of journalism’s most successful women as one long continuum. I hope that comes through in the pages that follow.

    Against daunting odds, women have always found chairs at the most important tables of this vital profession, seats that often proved hard to keep. Very few of the woman journalists in these pages, alas, have legacies that endured or will endure much beyond their own moment. This is as expected. It is worth pointing out that this is just as true for a great proportion of the profession’s outstanding men.

    The stories of the remarkable women included here provide a trove of still-sound career advice and some cautionary tales. Beyond that, we know now that it takes an ample mix of ages, races, genders, ethnicities, and political and cultural views to do American journalism’s essential tasks most effectively. We also know that journalism’s propensity to exclude—addressed repeatedly over the years, but never vanquished—has made us all the poorer. Within that context, our primary focus here is the impact women have had on journalism and journalism’s impact on them.

    See a trailer for Undaunted here

    Brooke Kroeger is journalist, professor emerita at NYU, and the author of six books. Undaunted will be available May 16, 2023. 

  • 17 Apr 2023 9:15 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Mike Conway

    I had the privilege earlier this year to help judge the applications for the American Journalism/Journalism History microgrant competition.  The six winners of the microgrants definitely are pursuing important media history projects. But what struck me was just how interesting all of the projects were.  I wish we had money to help all these scholars get their ideas off the ground.

    That got me thinking about how many of us have media history projects buried in files somewhere on our computer, or maybe even in old-school manila folders, just waiting for the time, money, and/or energy to get them started or move them along.

    Could I suggest June 1, 2023 as a possible deadline for you to bring one of your projects across the finish line? That is the research deadline for the AJHA Annual Conference, which will be held in Columbus, Ohio September 28-30, 2023. You can start to pull together your notes over the next few weeks and when your semester is over and grades are posted, you can dig in.

    J. JesseeScioto Mile aerial from north, CC BY-SA 2.0

    Maybe you have a media history research project that was unfairly maligned by Reviewer 2 for another conference. Track down those painful reviews and see if any of the changes would make it a stronger project. I’m not too proud to admit that over the years, I’ve used the late spring AJHA deadline to give papers rejected from other conferences another chance.

    If you don’t think you can get a full paper completed, you could also consider entering our Research in Progress (RIP) section.  Another idea is to come up with an important topic in media history research, find some experts in that area, and submit a panel proposal. 

    It’s no secret that research paper submissions have been down across the academy for the past few years because of pandemic fatigue and heavy non-research workloads. On the bright side, after two years of virtual conferences, attendance at last year’s AJHA conference in Memphis was right at the same level as our pre-pandemic conferences. So we definitely all want to be back together and celebrate strong media history scholarship.  Let’s make this be the year that you get your research back on the conference agenda.

    If you know other scholars that work in media history, please let them know about our conference. We always want to remind historians that even though we have American in our title, we encourage research from around the world, and even though we have Journalism in our name, we welcome historical scholarship from a wide range of media sources. 

    If you need a few more enticements for putting the June 1 deadline on your calendar, I can tell you that Caryl Cooper, LoWanda James and local hosts Felecia Ross and Aimee Edmondson are hard at work on creating a memorable experience while we’re in Columbus. They will be telling us more in the next few months, but they have great ideas for our historic tour, Gala dinner, and honoring local journalists. It’s been decades since I visited the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus occasionally when I was a reporter over in Dayton, so I’m excited to see the city again.

    Take a few moments and see if you’ve got an idea or a set of documents that would make an interesting research project for our conference. We’d love to see you in Columbus.

    Mike Conway is currently serving as President of AJHA. He is also Director of the Indiana Broadcast History Archive (IBHA) and a Professor of Journalism at 
    Indiana University Media School. 

  • 17 Mar 2023 10:41 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Ralph Engelman 

    A Century of Repression: The Espionage Act and Freedom of the Press (U. of Illinois Press, 2022) represents a kind of professional synthesis. Researching and writing the book spanned the transition from three decades as a professor of journalism at LIU Brooklyn to emeritus status. Moreover, the concern about threats to freedom of the press that animated this study was influenced by a number of professional and scholarly undertakings over the years.

    My awareness of the importance of freedom of expression was heightened in the 1970s by my association as a board member with the Pacifica Foundation, which operates a network of five iconoclastic listener-sponsored radio stations. This entailed the resolution of cases involving protection of news sources as well as the landmark indecency case FCC v. Pacifica (1976), for which I attended oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. My experience with Pacifica piqued my interest in writing what became my first book, Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History (Sage, 1996).

    Concern about the impact of the Espionage Act was also influenced by my experience as Faculty Coordinator of the George Polk Awards, conferred by LIU, which reflect the importance of freedom of the press in enabling impactful investigative journalism. Take the example of four-time Polk winner Seymour Hersh for his coverage of the CIA and the wars in Vietnam and Iraq; his intrepid reporting relied on the cultivation of confidential government sources, a practice that recent administrations have sought to criminalize through the Espionage Act. Writing a biography of Fred Friendly—Friendlyvision (Columbia University Press, 2009)—was yet another impetus. Friendly’s Seminars on Media and Society were launched upon the premise that greater scrutiny was needed of the relationship between the judiciary and the press. Indeed, one of the moderators of the seminars, the eminent law professor Benno C. Schmidt, had written about the threat that the Espionage Act posed to the press in a scathing law review article.

    Every fall semester I taught the Communications Law course in LIU Brooklyn’s undergraduate journalism program, but realized that I needed a constitutional lawyer as co-author of an intended in-depth examination of the evolution and application of the Espionage Act in myriad political and legal contexts. Enter Carey Shenkman, constitutional lawyer, graduate of NYU Law School and member of the panel of experts of Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression Program. He is a former associate of the late human rights lawyer Michael Ratner, the former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and American lawyer for Julian Assange in his Espionage Act case.

    Carey and I broke our book down into three distinct periods: (1) Targeting the Opposition: WW I and WW II, (2) Criminalizing Leaks: The Cold War, and (3) Policing Digital Journalism: The War on Terror. Some key points: We describe how from the outset the Espionage Act was deployed against publications and organizations opposed to U.S. entry into WW I rather than against spies. We establish how the use of the Espionage Act during WW I helped spark the divergent careers of both Roger Baldwin and J. Edgar Hoover, shaping the subsequent trajectory of the ACLU and of the FBI.

    The Espionage Act serves as a lens through which to view major developments in US journalism and political history. It was employed as a cudgel to intimidate the Black press during WW II, as a vehicle for the rise of McCarthyism, as punishment for release of the Pentagon Papers, and as a weapon against a plethora of whistleblowers during the Obama and Trump administrations. At the same time, our study reveals the ambivalence of key attorneys general in applying the act against journalistic sources, from John Lord O’Brian to Francis Biddle and Eric Holder—as well as important initiatives for reform of the act to foster a proper balance between the requirements for a free press and national security.

    Ralph Engelman is a Professor Emeritus of Journalism & Communication Studies, LIU Brooklyn. 

  • 17 Mar 2023 10:30 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you get involved in AJHA? 

    I learned about the formation of AJHA from its founder, David Sloan, attending the organization's first meeting at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and meeting some outstanding scholars who became life-long friends, including David, Maurine Beasley and Sidney Kobre.

    Since my primary interest was in the history of broadcast news, I thought that I might be able to learn more about the print side of things from this organization and its people. In a "second wave" of development other outstanding scholars emerged in that specialty: Mike Conway, Dale Cressman, Tom Mascaro, Maddie Liseblad and Jon Marshall -- just to name a few. They have been extremely helpful to me and one another. Over the years, we've formed a professional family of scholars.

    How did you contribute to AJHA's early development? 

    Serving on the inaugural Board of Directors, as a "cheerleader" in establishing our journal, "American Journalism," and hosting an early meeting in St. Louis, I met many early contributors. After serving a term as president, I also hosted a board meeting when we decided to revise the organization's very early by-laws.

    Who are some people from AJHA who had the biggest impact on you -- including your research?

    Sid Kobre, whose extensive work I reviewed and discussed with him, and David Sloan, who recruited me to the organization and asked me to contribute to one of his many history projects. Of course, this is what David did for many of the organization's early contributors as well as his former Ph.D. students. I've thanked him and even his wife Joanne many times for involving me in all this. The first draft of a chapter I put together for David turned into an early book of mine, "The Political Performers." This book was followed by several more with contributions from members like Don Godfrey, Mary Beadle, Roy Moore, Maurine Beasley, Bernell Tripp, Peggy Blanchard, Fred Blevens, Kathy Bradshaw, David Copeland, Erika Engstrom, Elliott King and Kim Voss. All are AJHA devotees and friends.

    Who were some of the other early members who worked with you in areas beyond research?

    AJHA has always been blessed with very talented and dedicated leaders. I'm thinking now of people like Carol Sue Humphrey, Wally Eberhardt, Therese Lueck, Erika Pribanic-Smith and David Vergobbi. I’ve worked on a large number of collaborative projects with many AJHA members. Interaction with AJHA members helped me to remain active in writing and publishing.  They also, on occasion, provided some sorely needed perspective. Jim Startt had been years in the academy before we met and he helped me navigate some tricky waters in advancing various academic initiatives and new degree programs. Barbara Cloud was also a major influence in that regard. Barbara hosted an early AJHA meeting held in Las Vegas and introduced me to Hank Greenspun, the Nevada publisher who became a key benefactor and namesake of University of Nevada-Las Vegas' Journalism School. I followed Barbara in office as AJHA president.

    I was able to join Barbara, Greg Borchard, Tony Ferri and Larry Mullen, plus the rest of UNLV's journalism faculty in getting that new school started and well-underway before returning back to our home base in Missouri. In the years following that assignment, professors from my previous schools, including the late Sam Riley of Virginia Tech and John Ferre, now retired from University of Louisville, were making solid contributions to the organization—and our field—and so I was grateful when they would sometimes credit me for having involved them. I don't get to attend many national meetings these days but I do get a genuine kick out of it when I look over an on-line conference schedule for AJHA and notice some current names like Stephen Bates of UNLV or Cayce Myers from Virginia Tech.

    Betty Winfield was also a great help to me -- and on many occasions. Some of our more senior members might remember that AJHA worked on the initiative to get a U.S. Postage Stamp established to honor Edward R. Murrow.  We hosted a "First Day of Issue" ceremony in St. Louis and Betty was kind enough to drive in from Columbia to give a talk about Ed's radio broadcasts. She also helped me out when I was honored with a Goldsmith Award for a book I mentioned earlier, "The Political Performers." Betty even took a photo of me with Mrs. Murrow on that occasion and whenever anyone asked me if I ever met Ed Murrow, I could stop responding: "No, he passed away when I was in high school," to now boast instead: "But I did have dinner and screen some broadcasts with his wife Janet -- at Harvard." 

    What are your interests outside of academia?

    I am now in "Governor Emeritus" mode with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences here in the Midwest, so I stay in-touch by assuming some EMMY judging chores. We also support a major bicycle race here thru an organization called "Forest Park Forever." But my one guilty pleasure is being a total basketball nut. During that season, I become obsessed. In fact, my family likes to say that all the teaching assignments I have held were based on college basketball rankings. That's not TOTALLY true—in spite of some administrative positions I held in Kentucky and UNLV. 

    Louisville men's basketball has fallen on hard times lately but the last thing I heard from that University was an inquiry from John Ferre and the President's Office there when the University was responding to media inquiries regarding the confirmation of the CIA Director, Gina Haspel.  It turned out that when I got U of L's academic program established and its bachelor's degree approved back in 1976, Gina was one of many students who transferred from the University of Kentucky to the University of Louisville. She attended UK for a few years and was able to transfer and graduate from U of L in 1978. Louisville's development office wanted to know if I remembered Gina when she was still a student there? I said something like: "Recalling that it's been over forty years—unless she played basketball or appeared on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated,' probably not." What can you say? Right, I'm a hopeless case.

    Michael D. Murray is a Board of Curator’s Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri--St. Louis. He served as national president the American Journalism Historian’s Association and received the organization’s highest honor, its Lifetime Achievement (the Sidney Kobre Award), as well as the highest recognition by the Broadcast Education Association, the Distinguished Service to Education Award. He was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ honorary society, Silver Circle. 

  • 24 Feb 2023 6:53 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Elisabeth Fondren

    As soon as I entered the Stanford University campus, got off the free Marguerite shuttle bus, and walked towards the iconic Hoover Tower, which is the home of the Hoover Archives, I felt energized. And a sense of relief that my trip from New York City to Palo Alto had been so smooth.

    With a bit of delay (the archives closed during the pandemic), I was fortunate to use the 2020 AJHA Joseph McKerns Grant in August 2022 to spend a week at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Archives and Library to collect primary sources for my ongoing research on propaganda-press history during World War I and II.

    I had not been back to Stanford since 2017, when I had had the opportunity to work at the Hoover Archives for my dissertation on World War I international propaganda. These archives are famous for their large collections on international propaganda, counterpropaganda, war, and conflict.

    Researching Propaganda, Fascist Publicity and Psychological Warfare

    Specifically, I worked with the collections on propaganda posters 1914-1945, the Paris Peace Conference delegation propaganda, American fascist and Nazi groups in the interwar period, and World War II propaganda and psychological warfare in the European Theatre.

    One study that I am currently writing explores how propaganda ideas and techniques from the Great War—the first modern mass propaganda war—informed states’ campaigns during the ParisPeace Conference, as well as the press’ growing skepticism and discourse around the expectations (and limitations) of what propaganda and mass publicity could do. I am interested to investigate the tepid interactions between post-World War I propagandists and journalists.

    At Stanford I also studied the German American Bund records to see how press covered the U.S. home-grown Nazi movement leading up to World War II. By accessing these records, specifically, the minutes of the Executive Committee, translations of Führer commands, financial records, propaganda, and photographs, relating to activities of the Bund, I was able to read about the fascist roots and ideas of this organization, which tried to rally support for its pro-Nazi, antisemitic, and U.S. isolationist agenda during 1936-1941. I am immensely grateful to AJHA for funding this research trip.

    On a personal note, that trip also was the first time for me to leave my 1.5-year-old toddler at home with my husband and embark on a solo research trip. The prospect of studying wartimepropaganda, and to spend a full week reading primary documents 3,000 miles from home, was exciting for all of us. The Stanford University campus was quiet since I visited during the summer break, but most cafés and eateries, and the large bookstore were open. Face-time video calls on the campus lawn, and seeing my little one eat strawberry smoothies, while saying ‘da, da, da” is a very happy memory.


    Planning your research: The Hoover Archives reading room is located in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Building and open Monday-Friday. The archives are internationally renowned, and reservation is required, at least several weeks in advance. As with most archives, materials need to be requested in advance. In my experience, the excellent staff is happy to add to requests on site and is very thorough in working with researchers on site.

    Reading Room Reservations:

    The Hoover Archives are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm and by reservation only. Reservations can be made via the online portal:

    How to get to Stanford University: Fly to San Francisco or San Jose airport, take BART subway and CalTrain to Palo Alto, or use Taxi/Uber. There are many accommodation options (hotels, AirBnB) close by in Palo Alto or Menlo Park. The Marguerite shuttle is free and open to the public.

    Elisabeth Fondren is an assistant professor of journalism at St. John’s University in New York.

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