How did you become involved in AJHA?
In 2009, Dr. Dave Davies introduced me to AJHA when I was a doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi. He told my class that the organization would change our lives, and he was right. We were required to write a research paper and submit it to AJHA as part of a class assignment. My paper on Anne Williams Wheaton was accepted, so I attended my first AJHA convention in fall 2009. The paper received two honorable mention awards, and the scholars who attended my presentation were generous, kind, and insightful. I was hooked by meeting these kindred spirits, and I’ve never looked back. I am now a Lifetime Member.
Why does media history matter to you?
Media history is a reflection of American history, because freedom of the press is necessary for democracy to flourish. Thomas Jefferson and other founders understood that citizens needed to have information in order to govern, so they safeguarded both free speech and a free press. Media history is American history, and vice versa. So, I think that media history is foundational to any credible mass media program.
How does your research impact your teaching?
I taught journalism and public relations courses many years before I earned my doctor of philosophy degree. I was told (erroneously) that my PhD would not make me a better teacher—while the degree gave me entry into an elite club, it would not enhance my classroom. I have found that to be false. Yes, many great teachers do not have doctorates, but my research complements my teaching, and it makes a difference in my classroom. For example, when I am discussing the historical pursuit of truth, it helps that I can explain to them some of my successes and some of my failures as a practicing historian. Finding historical truth is hard, and real-world examples make that clearer. My research informs my teaching, and it has made a big difference in my students’ education. Additionally, when historians make discoveries or shed new light on historiography, I am aware of these new findings and can share that with my students.
What hobbies/interests do you have outside of academia?
I love spending time with my family, particularly my eight nieces and nephews, as well as my three grandnieces and nephew. They are simply wonderful. I enjoy giving back to my community through my church, Fruitland Community Church, where we have an active food distribution ministry and other opportunities to help people. An athletic person some four decades ago, I try to stay active through pickleball, golf, walking, and wiffleball. I like to play cards with friends, visit museums, read books, and watch movies. I simply love the movies.
Dr. Pam Parry is professor of public relations at Southeast Missouri State University. She is the author of Eisenhower: The Public Relations President, co-editor of the Women in American Political History book series, and editor of Journalism History. This past year, Honor Students asked Parry to be the Keynote Speaker at the annual Student Research Conference at SEMO. In 2016, she received the Applegate Award for Excellence in Research from the Kentucky Communication Association. She also received the Teacher of the Year award from the Small Programs Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2009, and she received the Presidential Faculty Achievement Award from Belmont University for distinguished service to students outside the classroom in May 2008.