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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  • 18 Sep 2023 3:56 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

    Historically, when women’s stories were told by the so-called objective press, they were often constrained to preconceived notions of stereotypical gender roles, marked as “fallen,” sensationalized as cold-blooded killers or hapless victims, flattened into archetypes to conform to cultural narratives, or stereotyped as microcosmic representations of a larger demographic. But media is not monolith, and the objectified press is not the last word. In my book, How the News Feels: The Empathic Power of Literary Journalists (University of Massachusetts Press, 2023) I argue that from the early nineteenth century to today, women literary journalists have proven particularly effective at creating space for empathy in their writing—a much needed contrast to sensational reporting and objectified journalism. Some of the best and most persuasive—as well as woefully underrepresented—examples of literary journalism were written by women who worked against reductive, objectified representations of their subjects to tell stories imbued with empathy.

    Beginning in the nineteenth century, women journalists went to and reported from places that their readers had never visited themselves. Enabling readers to see those who are locked away in unseen places like asylums and prisons through descriptions that were unabashedly subjective and sentimental was an alternative kind of news.

    Neither literature nor journalism was telling the story that they wanted to tell in the way they wanted to tell it, so many women journalists forged their own way, which proved to be revolutionary both in terms of subject matter and style. Simultaneously, through the very act of expanding the sentimental beyond the domestic sphere and into the decidedly public arena of the urban daily newspaper, these early literary journalists moved from the private to the public sphere and brought a perceived moral mastery with them.

    Even as literature moved away from sentimentalism and as journalism moved toward an “ideal of objectivity,” literary journalists continued to utilize a sentimental ethos against objectified journalism to write about those whose stories had gone untold or had been otherwise caricatured. Indeed, this hybridization of genres proved productive for women writers in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century.

    When Catharine Williams writes of Sarah Maria Cornell, a murdered factory worker, in her book Fall River, or when Margaret Fuller appeals to her readers to see the women she encountered in an asylum, they tell true stories in a sentimental mode with the cumulative effect of evoking empathy for their subjects. In this way, women writers in the nineteenth century were pivotal in the development of the genre that would become literary journalism, and their sentimental ethos—what I call their empathic power—has been carried on by generations of literary journalists through to today.

    Jonathan D. Fitzgerald is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. 

  • 18 Sep 2023 8:07 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Jon Marshall

    Interested in original newspapers from the 1800s? Historic magazines? Rare sports memorabilia? A Mike Sweeney painting? Autographed books by famous journalists and AJHA award winners? A bottle of whiskey?

    Now’s your chance to own these items and much more as bidding for the AJHA silent auction begins September 19 and continues through September 29, the Friday night of the Columbus conference.

    In addition to the silent auction, we’re bringing back a live auction to this year’s conference. It will be led by auctioneer extraordinaire David Davies and will take place at the end of the Thursday evening reception. All money from both auctions will go to the Michael Sweeney Graduate Student Travel Stipend to help the new generation of media historians afford to attend our conference.  

    To browse the auction items and start bidding, go to this link: or use the QR code above to get to our GiveButter auction site, then click on the auction tab at the top. There’s also a button where you can donate directly to AJHA if you don’t feel like bidding on anything but still want to help our grad students.

    You’ll be able to see the actual items in person starting Thursday, September 28 at our Westin Great Southern conference hotel in Columbus. The bidding will end just before midnight Friday, September 29. You’ll get a notice if you won something and then need to pay for your items by the end of the AJHA business meeting on Saturday, September 30, when you can pick up your winnings.

    Bid early, bid often and bid generously. You’ll find great deals on fun and historic items at the AJHA auction, but keep in mind that the purpose of the auction is to help grad students attend our conferences. If you can afford to bid (donate) higher, please do. You might ask the colleagues in your department if they’d like you to bid on something for you. Or seek out a graduate student at the conference and see if they have their eye on any auction items and then bid on it for them.

    Even though the bidding is online, you must be in Columbus to pick up your auction items at the end of Saturday’s business meeting. We will not be shipping any auction items. If you can’t be there but really want a specific auction object, you can talk to one of us going to Columbus to see if we’d be willing to get it to you in exchange for a generous bid/donation.

    If you’re donating items for the auction, don’t forget to bring them to Columbus. We will have instructions at the AJHA registration table for where you can drop off your items when you arrive.

    If you have questions or ideas about the auction, please let me know at

  • 18 Sep 2023 7:58 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you become involved in AJHA?

    My first AJHA conference was in New Orleans 2013. That was a year after I started working at IU and became colleagues with my former professor Mike Conway, who encouraged me to submit a paper. The only conference I’ve missed since then was Oklahoma City in 2015. Among the many things I love about the conferences are the civilized (read: not too early) breakfasts and the fact that the sessions are usually done by around 5. 

    Your do both historical work and social science research. How do you reconcile those?

    The most important thing I learned in graduate school is to pick the research method that helps you answer your questions. In my long career as a reporter, I became increasingly interested in the workings of journalism as a practice and an institution, and my questions didn’t stop with current affairs. I’m interested in journalism’s role in contemporary democratic society, for instance, but I also wanted to know why that relationship developed the way it did. So I’ve spent my academic career so far straddling the fence between history and social science, and I think that has helped me have a more holistic view of journalism in society than I otherwise would.

    What research would you be doing if you weren’t studying journalism?

    Although I’ve been in Indiana since 1988 and thus must acknowledge I’ve become a Hoosier, I still think of myself as a Westerner because I was born and raised in Colorado and did most of my undergraduate work in California. Consequently I have always been fascinated by the history of the western U.S. and would like to indulge that interest at some point – maybe bringing the streams together. And maybe I could even work a little cryptozoology into the mix (see below).

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside academia?

    My happy times growing up involved big mountains, and so I try to get out of the flatlands at least once a year to hike them. So far I’ve summited eight of the 54 peaks in Colorado that are higher than 14,000 feet. Somewhat related to that, I have a weird side interest in the myth and lore of Bigfoot, having spent many nights camping and terrified of what was out there in the deep, dark woods.

    Gerry Lanosga is the Director of Journalism and Associate Professor at the Media School at Indiana University Bloomington. 

  • 16 Aug 2023 2:48 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)
    • How did you become involved in AJHA? 

      My dissertation was about the role of the New England press in the American Revolution and I was looking for somewhere to make a presentation.  I saw an advertisement for the AJHA Convention in St. Louis in 1986.  I assumed that a group devoted to journalism history would be interesting and enjoyable and I was right.  I have been involved ever since.

    • How did you become interested in the American Revolution?

      I think I became intrigued about the American Revolution in order to snub my 2 brothers who were big Civil War buffs.  When I went to grad school, I knew that I wanted to do something about the American Revolution, so I talked to Dr. Don Higginbotham, the University of North Carolina Revolution historian.  He had a stack of index cards in his desk with possible research topics that he did not want to do himself.  One was the role of the press during the American Revolution.  That idea fascinated me and things took off from there.

    • What impact did the press have on the American Revolution?

      Many people who have read my work are fascinated by the impact of the press on the American Revolution.  For many, it was something they had never really thought about and they were a bit surprised at how big the impact was (particularly when they think about how long it took for stories to travel from one place to another – we are so used to hearing news stories quickly and almost immediately that many people don’t imagine how news in the past could still have a huge impact even though it could take weeks to arrive).

    • What are your hobbies and other interests outside of academia?

    • My hobbies and interests outside of academia are still somewhat history-related.  I enjoy doing counted cross-stitched pieces and many that I do are replicas of historic pieces or related to history in some other way.  I have retired from teaching so I looked for something else to do and I found something fun.  I currently work at the local history museum in Shawnee and really enjoy working with artifacts that have been donated to the museum.

      Carol Sue Humphrey is a professor of history at Oklahoma Baptist University and the author of numerous books on American history and journalism. 

  • 16 Aug 2023 2:32 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Paulette D. Kilmer

    Sometimes, I tell my students the folktale, “Stone Soup”:

    Two hungry strangers notice the people in a prosperous village like to barter, and so they realize nobody will give them food without something in exchange. They dump debris out of a huge pot nearly lost under the weeds in a neighboring lot, wash it out, and build a fire with the pot full of water resting on the crisscrossed branches in the center of the hamlet. Soon the villagers gather around the two cooks.

    “What are you doing?” 

    “Making stone soup—more delicious than words can say. To get a bowl, all you have to do is add one item—a potato, carrot, chunk of meat, onion, whatever to the pot.”

    Within fifteen minutes, the pot was full of everybody’s leftovers all cooking in that boiling water. By sunset, the aroma wafted through the streets, and everybody—including the strangers—assembled in the park by the pot to eat soup and bread or cookies that good-hearted souls donated.

    They told stories as the sun dipped out of sight and the moon rose amid the sparkling stars. Soon a fiddler and a concertina player emerged, and so they danced too.

    That simple gesture of making a pot of soup together connected the strangers and villagers via generosity and imagination. Later, folks said the strangers who had nothing material beyond a stone to contribute gave the most because they reminded everybody of the power in two or more gathered in the name of sharing and caring.

    The Publication Committee functions like a village making stone soup, only our brew involves ideas. Each person contributes wisdom, practical information, and encouragement. We all benefit from this communal sharing, and through our deliberations, we get to know one another better. We need everyone to do our best.

    The next ingredient we need in AJHA's soup may be one you can throw in!  Do you know anyone who would make a good editor of American Journalism?  Please toss the name our way!   

    Over the years, we have worked with the board to appoint the editor positions of American Journalism and The Intelligencer. We offered advice during the discussions about joining Taylor and Francis. We participated in the process of going from paper to cyber formatting for The Intelligencer. Several times, we have worked together to fill both editorial positions in the same year. Our strength arises from the conversations via email that result in diverse views and fresh insights impossible to attain without robust exchanges.

    In off years, when our services are not necessary for helping the board find candidates to edit our publications, we serve in advisory capacity. We may not meet very often if the board does not need our help with a task involving the scope, future, or efficacy of our publications. We are always on stand-by in case the board needs our input.

    Unlike many AJHA committees, most members do not rotate off the Publication Committee because past editors of American Journalism and The Intelligencer understand the challenges of keeping these vital resources alive and healthy. We enlist as many prior editors as possible. We also benefit when AJHA members who have not edited our publications but take an interest in our tasks join our committee. We welcome new members and need them to help us make sound decisions.

    For us, an idea provides the stone that inspires everybody to donate thoughts, concerns, or information to our savory broth of understanding that as a band of merry advisors to the board we shape into comments and reports. We enjoy serving AJHA and appreciate the board’s due diligence in helping us keep that vital water boiling so our organization continues to thrive.

    Anyone wishing to join the AJHA Publications Committee should send an email to We gain wisdom from new members.

    Paulette Kilmer is the Publication Committee Chair of AJHA. She is also a Professor at the University of Toledo. 

  • 16 Aug 2023 2:18 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)
    • By Jon Marshall 

      As the deadline for donating items to the AJHA auction draws near, the generosity of our members is warming my heart. We are going to have some fun and fascinating things to bid on at our Columbus conference.

      The deadline for donations to the auction is September 15. All funds raised will go to the Michael Sweeney Graduate Student Travel Stipend to help our newest scholars afford to attend our conference.   

      The more items we can auction, the more money we can raise for our graduate students. Do you have an historical artifact you’d be willing to donate? Or memorabilia about journalism? Or something that represents your city or school? Or something that’s just plain fun?

      If so, just take a photo of the item and write a brief description of it to submit on this form: Then bring it to Columbus with you (or send it with a friend) for the live auction Thursday evening and the silent auction that will conclude at Saturday’s business meeting. To make the bidding and logistics easier, try to think of items that can work together as a package.

      We have received a great mix of donations so far: 

    • From Ross Collins, a signed copy of his book “Children, War & Propaganda” 

    • From Aimee Edmondson, an original Mike Sweeney painting

    • From Carol Sue Humphrey, a framed cross-stitch with a quote from Thomas Jefferson about his love of books
    • From Brooke Kroeger, a signed copy of her book "Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism"
    • From Jane Marcellus, a great collection of books:
      • Edward Bernays’ 1928 “Propaganda”

      • Cathryn Halverson’s “Faraway Women and The Atlantic Monthly”
      • Landon R.Y. Storrs’ “Civilizing Capitalism”
      • Sari Edelstein’s “Between the Novel and the News”
      • Karen Roggenkamp’s “Narrating the News”
      • Mary S. Mander’s “Pen and Sword”
    • From Kathryn McGarr, a signed copy of her award-winning book, “City of Newsmen”
    • From David Nord, original newspaper pages from the 1800s
    • From Pamela Walck, an investigative journalism basket featuring American Journalism's special Fall 2022 Watergate anniversary issue on investigative reporting along with four of the original media reviewed in the issue, including “The New Journalism” by Tom Wolfe & E.W. Johnson, “Forty Million Dollar Slaves” by William Rhoden, “16 Shots” directed by Richard Rowley, and “Spotlight” directed by Tom McCarthy

    • Also from Pamela Walck, a “Welcome to Pittsburgh!” sampling of Wigle Whiskey's offerings, including City of Champions Bourbon Whiskey (375 ml ) and 412 The Moon, Wigle's version of Fireball Whiskey (375 ml), plus a recycled highball-sized glass to enjoy your imbibing

    • From Julie Williams, a reproduction of the front page of the first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix and a reproduction of the entire March 13, 1928, issue
    • Also from Julie Williams, 1954 and 1964 issues of Life magazine
    • From Tracy Lucht, a “Nevertheless, She Persisted” package that includes:
    • A used copy of "Lady Editor: Careers for Women in Publishing" (1941)
    • A hand-painted, undated planner and a homemade candle from Warm Wishes in Jefferson, Iowa
    • A blank "Nevertheless, She Persisted" notebook
    • Two cans of craft beer and two cans of homemade root beer from Peace Tree, the first woman-owned brewery in Iowa
    • A $25 one-time subscription in the winner's name to Black Iowa News, an independent local news platform that highlights Black perspectives
    • A $25 donation in the winner's name to The 19th News, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that focuses on gender and policy
    • A paperback copy of "Mad Men and Working Women" by Erika Engstrom, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus and Kimberly Wilmot Voss
    • A water bottle from Velorosa, which sells gear and supports women in cycling
    • Reusable tote 

    I’ve decided to donate a Chicago journalism package featuring an Ida B. Wells coffee mug, a “Dewey Defeats Truman” trivet, a Jet magazine T-shirt, and a Joseph Medill bobblehead. I’m also donating a signed copy of my book “Clash: Presidents and the Press in Times of Crisis.”

    Do you have questions or ideas for the auction? Please email

  • 08 Aug 2023 3:09 PM | Erika Pribanic-Smith (Administrator)

    by Cathy Jackson, Norfolk State
    Nominations and Elections Chair

    It’s that time of the year when AJHA members learn about the candidates for open leadership slots. One AJHA member was nominated to serve as second vice president, and three members are were nominated for three board of directors seats.

    The 2nd VP, under normal circumstances, rises to the presidency in two years, then serves on the board as ex-officio for an additional two years. Board members serve for three years and are expected to attend board meetings at the annual convention 

    A nominee to the Board of Directors or to any officer position must have been a member of the AJHA for at least one calendar year immediately preceding the date of the election. No more than one person from an institution can serve on the Board at one time.

    The election will be conducted via online survey, distributed in early September. A write-in option will be available for each position. 

    Below are brief bios for each nominee. 

    Second Vice President 

    Michael Fuhlhage is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University, in Detroit. He is a past winner of the National Award for Excellence in Teaching from the American Journalism Historians Association. An AJHA member for 18 years, he has served in many capacities, including chair of the Research Committee, panels coordinator, member of the Board of Directors, and a juror in the Book Awards competition, the Margaret Blanchard Dissertation Awards competition, and the AJHA McKerns Research Grant competition. Fuhlhage is the author of Yankee Reporters and Southern Secrets: Journalism, Open Source Intelligence, and the Coming of the Civil War (2019), co-editor of the Routledge Companion to American Journalism History (in press), and co-author of Newspapers’ Apologies for Complicity in Systemic Racism (forthcoming). His research interests include the development of stereotypes about Mexicans in U.S. mass media, the mid-nineteenth-century press, and the history of the book in American culture. Fuhlhage, noting the debt he owes AJHA for his successful academic career, said it has been a source of inspiration, instruction, direction, friendship, and networking. A role in AJHA leadership will allow him to encourage an expansive definition of diversity in scholarship, help junior scholars, and defend history against those who seek to undermine it.

    Board of Directors 

    Mark Bernhardt is a history professor at Jackson State University. He has been a member of the American Journalism Historians Association for seven years and currently serves as chair of the History in the Curriculum Committee and on the editorial board of Historiography in Mass Communication. He is the recipient of the 2020 Joseph McKerns Research Grant and has published in both American Journalism and Journalism History. His research interests include how newspapers, films, and television engage in public discourse about social and cultural issues connected to imperialism and its legacy in the transnational North American West, U.S. involvement in wars, and intersectionality in U.S. society. He values AJHA because it serves as a home for interdisciplinary scholars in a variety of fields who share the common interest of studying history. His desire is to strengthen AJHA, help it grow, support ongoing advocacy to include media history as a requirement in the Mass Communications curriculum, and build connections with history departments.

    Christina Littlefield is an associate professor in journalism and religion at Pepperdine University. Her first book, Chosen Nations, investigated the late nineteenth-century social gospel in Great Britain and the United States, and she conducts ongoing research into muckraking work in those countries. Littlefield is updating a book with Richard Hughes for University of Illinois Press looking at Christian nationalism today, including its usage of right-wing media. As a higher education and religion reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Littlefield’s investigative work led to jail time for a corrupt community college official.  Littlefield is currently the AJHA web editor. She fell in love with the AJHA conference format in Little Rock in 2017, after she won the Rising Scholar research funding. She volunteered to serve because she deeply appreciates how the AJHA national conference supports members’ research, honors local journalists, provides extensive opportunities for networking, and includes a historical field trip.  

    Lori Amber Roessner, a 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. She is the author of Inventing Baseball Heroes: Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and the Sporting Press in America (2014) and Jimmy Carter and the Birth of the Marathon Media Campaign (2020), and she co-edited Political Pioneer of the Press: Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Her Transnational Crusade for Social Justice (2018). Her research articles have appeared in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Journalism History, contributing to her receiving the American Journalism’s inaugural Rising Scholar award in 2014. Her 2020 Journalism History manuscript, “The Voices of Public Opinion: Lingering Structures of Feeling about Women’s Suffrage in 1917 U.S. Newspaper Letters to the Editor,” won the 2021 AEJMC History Division’s Covert Award, an annual award for the best mass communication history article in the previous year. Roessner was honored with the AJHA's 2017 Award for Excellence in Teaching and earned recognition from AEJMC History Division’s Inaugural Transformative Teaching of Media and Journalism History. Roessner, an AJHA member since 2006, regularly presents at AJHA and remains deeply committed to her service within the organization. She was a member of the AJHA Book Award Committee, a judge on AJHA’s Blanchard Dissertation Prize committee, a member of AJHA’s Board of Directors, the Chair of AJHA’s Election & Nominations Committee, president of AJHA’s Graduate Student Committee, and a regular reviewer for the conference and American Journalism.  

  • 24 Jul 2023 4:26 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you become involved in AJHA?

    I first became involved in the AJHA in 2014. After finalizing the revisions for my article in American Journalism titled “Reporting the Revolution: Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, and the Italian Risorgimento,” my editor at the time suggested that I consider submitting my next project for presentation at the upcoming AJHA meeting. I followed this advice, presented at the next conference, and since have remained affiliated with AJHA. 

    How does media history factor into your research on digital media? 

    History frames every chapter in Immersive Longform Storytelling: Media, Technology, Audience (Routledge, 2019) and Podcast Journalism: The Promise and Perils of Audio Media (Columbia University Press, forthcoming in 2024).  The brief yet fierce evolution of digital media forms of journalistic storytelling are best understood as emerging from cultural discourses and production practices within publishing industries and creative networks that thrived long before the digital revolution. For example, one study (with Subin Paul) published in a special issue of Digital Journalism dedicated to journalism history examines the role of digital archiving as a form of social protest among India’s lowest caste, which endures chronic oppression and marginalization. In another example, my study on right-wing podcasting’s impact on the January 6 insurrection is historically framed with discussion of how the current discourse of incendiary hosts such as Dan Bongino modeled their approach after 1990s talk radio firebrand Rush Limbaugh.   

    What areas of nineteenth-century journalism history do you think deserve more attention?

    Scholars have only begun to fully comprehend the profound impact of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophy on the antebellum periodical press. In Emerson’s Newspaperman: Horace Greeley and Radical Intellectual Culture, 1836-1872 (Journalism and Communication Monographs, 2017), I explore these issues with respect to Emerson’s impact on the thinking and editorial policy of Horace Greeley, the iconic editor of the New York Daily Tribune. I am hoping to pursue future work connecting Emerson’s thought to the importance of local journalism, tentatively in collaboration with Jonathan D. (“Fitz”) Fitzgerald. Fitz, by the way, published a wonderful book in 2023 titled How the New Feels: The Empathic Power of Literary Journalists on antebellum and Progressive Era women writers’ influence on the rise of literary journalism, a movement with a long history prior to Tom Wolfe and the New Journalists of the mid twentieth century.

    What do you think is the best title of all time among books dedicated to journalism history?

    That’s easy—Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and the Ax Murder in America’s First Mass Medium, by Andie Tucher. My echo of the stylistics of this title can be heard in the title of my 2019 book, A Delicate Aggression: Savagery and Survival in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Yale University Press), but it’s nowhere close to Andie’s boldness, verve, and precision.   

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of academia?

    My wife, daughters, and son spend each summer in Boulder, CO where we enjoy hiking, biking, and running the Front Range. As a former competitive distance runner, I have trained and raced at a variety of distances, from 5K to the marathon. My fondest memories, however, are of completing three triathlons with my oldest daughter Jackie (who just earned her PhD from Caltech in chemistry) and a half marathon with her younger sister Eveline, who is working on a PhD in Political Science at UC Davis.

    David Dowling is a Professor in the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His work in digital media and journalism studies centers on developments in publishing industries that drive markets and cultural production.

  • 24 Jul 2023 9:20 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Mike Conway

    One of my lasting memories of AJHA happened at my first conference in Billings, Montana, 20 years ago.  Somebody walked up to me on the last night of the conference and nonchalantly handed me an envelope with my name on it.  I opened it up and it was a check. 

    All these years later, I don’t remember the amount of that check. But as a graduate student stressing over mounting student loan debt, any amount was helpful, and the money wasn’t as important to me as the gesture. 

    So much of the academic structure seems designed to remind graduate students of their place in the hierarchy.  But in this case, these people were handing me money and making sure I had it before I left for home.

    As I’m writing this, acceptance emails are going out for our Columbus conference in September. I’ve had a sneak peek at who will be on the program, but I need to keep that quiet for now. I will just say that several graduate students will be receiving that check (or some more modern monetary transaction) when we meet in Columbus in September.

    I want to remind you that we have two ways of raising money for the Michael Sweeney Graduate Student Travel Stipend. First, you can donate directly on our website. The more festive option though is our AJHA auction. The auction was revived by popular demand last year, and Jon Marshall volunteered to organize this fundraiser and is waiting for your media history items for the auction. 

    All you have to do is find something interesting or cool that people will want to bid on. Then you take a picture of it and fill out this form.  You will bring the item to Columbus, and we’ll put it out on display so people can see the item both online and in-person. The bidding will end on the Friday night of the conference, and we’ll give you your winning goodies at the Saturday business meeting. The catch is you need to be attending the conference to donate or bid on auction items. (Unless you can bribe someone to bring or retrieve auction items for you.)        

    What to donate? Traditionally, we have focused on cool media history items. Old newspapers, magazines, books, coffee cups, glasses, and other promotional material.  Right above my desk are a couple of 1940s-era Erie Dispatch newspaper calendars I bought at a previous auction to remind me of my time working in that city. 

    You can also donate non-media related items that you think people would like, such as a unique product from your part of the country. Carolyn Sweeney, widow of Mike Sweeney, has once again donated a few of Mike’s original paintings for the auction. 

    We have found that the most successful donations tend to be very rare publications or a collection of items under a specific theme. AJHA First Vice President Tracy Lucht has set a high bar this year with her “Nevertheless, She Persisted” auction package. That has me scrambling through bins and boxes in my basement to come up with my own interesting collection.

    The size of next year’s Sweeney Stipend check depends on how many items we have in the auction this year and how much we all bid on those items.

    If you have any questions, contact Jon Marshall at

  • 24 Jul 2023 9:15 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Julie Hedgepeth Williams

    Samford University recently decided professors should teach freshman English based on their own field of research.  Therefore I get to teach freshman English as media history.  Huzzah!   I take students to the archives, where they study media of various eras, then write and speak about their findings.

    I started the semester with a poem from 1770 : 

    A Newspaper is like a feast,

    Some dish there is for every guest;

    Some large, some small, some strong, some tender,

    For every stomach, stout or slender;

    Those who roast beef and ale delight in,

    Are pleased with trumpets, drums and fighting;

    For those who are more puny made,

    Are arts and sciences, and trade;

    For fanciful and amorous blood,

    We have soft poetic food;

    For witty and satiric folks,

    High-seasoned, acid, bitter jokes;

    And when we strive to please the mob,

    A jest, a quarrel, or a job.

       If any gentleman wants a wife,

    (A partner, as ‘tis termed, for life)

    An advertisement does the thing,

    And quickly brings the pretty thing.

       If you want health, consult our pages,

    You shall be well, and live for ages….

       Our services you can’t express,

    The good we do you hardly guess;

    There’s not a want of human kind,

    But we a remedy can find.

     At semester’s end, I asked students how the poem had come true over the semester.  Following is a sample of answers: 

    • Newspapers are foreign to me and my generation! It was a cool experience that allowed me to look through another form of media that is not social.”
    • Who knew food could be compared to newspapers in such a way that it works? Cars and car advertisements are my “dish,” but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn to enjoy other “dishes” as well. One topic that I found fascinating was horses in the colonial era.  The more “missing horse” ads I read, the more I understood horses were not just livestock, they were also transportation and a financial investment.
    •  I felt like I was live on the battle scene during a British takeover of an American settlement during the Revolution. I felt the wrath of Britain and the fear and hatred that America had for them. There is definitely something to be said about reading original accounts of events.
    • It was sad to see how black people were sold for certain amount of money, as if they were animals. I remember one ad mentioned that if you found a missing pocketbook, they would give you in return a horse, along with a Black slave.
    • “For witty and satiric folks” reminded me of a humorous article I saw on Woodrow Wilson’s grandchild. The article was about astrology and how, given his zodiac chart, this baby was going to be the new president.
    • To my surprise there were numerous women on the 1950s covers of Sports Illustrated. However, authors wanted to conserve their femininity as much as possible. “An advertisement does the thing, And quickly brings the pretty thing” reflected the way Sports Illustrated always made it a point to describe women athletes as pretty and beguiling.
    • Medicines were presented in newspapers throughout various eras. “If you want health, consult our pages” – or maybe don’t, considering that in early time periods, many of the medicines advertised contained mercury.
    • After listening to all my classmates' speeches, I realized that newspapers contain so much information that we only see half of it.
    • When someone says, “A Newspaper is like a feast,” they’re not entirely wrong. A newspaper includes something for everyone, ranging from political news, cartoons, advertisements, jokes, and even importantly boring articles. Everything I have read this semester has broadened my perspective of not only how news used to be communicated, but how much fake news is an issue today. This pandemic of fake news via the internet is concerning.
    • Overall this class brought a new source to my writing arsenal. The next time I’m writing a paper, instead of clicking on just another internet article, I’m going to find a newspaper article that will give me an even better understanding of what I’m writing about.

    Julie Hedgepeth Williams teaches part-time at Samford University, where she's delighted that her freshman English class can be taught as media history.  She's also a part-time writer of popular history books which all started as AJHA papers.  She won AJHA's Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History in 2021.

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