Media History Engagement Week Slated For April

21 Jan 2017 9:47 PM | Dane Claussen

By Teri Finneman and Will Mari

AEJMC History Division Membership Co-Chairs

As media historians, part of our mission is to emphasize the importance of what we do to our colleagues in journalism studies and out in the professional world. To that end, we’re calling for participation in the second annual Media History Engagement Week, slated to start April 3, 2017. 

Like National News Engagement Day, Media History Engagement Week will not only raise awareness about the importance of our field, but also expose students to the messiness and continuing relevance of history to the present. 

Last year, participants from 20 states and six countries took part in the #headlinesinhistory Twitter discussion, with dozens of students tweeting images, videos and text from ongoing research projects, assignments and classroom activities. 

While there’s a serious benefit to getting students and faculty friends to tweet about media history, it’s also fun. 

We’d like to give you some basics about the media-history-engagement initiative and ideas you could include in your spring syllabus.

The main mission of the week is to promote journalism history during the week of April 3-7. The Twitter hashtag is #headlinesinhistory. We hope campuses across the country (and even the world) will be tweeting #headlinesinhistory to share why journalism history matters and/or share class projects about journalism and communication history.

Media History Engagement Week can make #headlinesinhistory a national conversation. Here’s a few concrete ways to make that happen: 

  • Collaborate with other colleagues and their students across the country on a specific project or assignment.
  • Have your students research the archives of their campus newspapers. Post/share images of front pages or something visual (cartoons are especially fun).
  • Have students search for family history in newspaper archives

If students are doing an oral-history project, have them tweet about the most surprising thing they found

  • Organize a movie night on campus of journalism history-related movies (you could open this up to the general public, too). You might show one movie and then have an open forum discussion after.
  • Have students read the First Amendment on campus or from collections of historic journalism.
  • Have students research and then profile of a significant journalist/photojournalist or a publication. A time frame could be specified (anyone between 1900 and 1980, etc.). The end result could be a paper presentation or a poster presentation. If poster presentations are the desired medium, the instructor could arrange to have the posters displayed as an exhibit for the public and campus to enjoy.
  • The above doesn't have to be an assignment. It could be a contest sponsored by the journalism department/school/college, with awards of some kind given for the best projects.
  • Digital curated project that focuses on a person or an era, with Storify or some other digital/online platform used. A 10-minute slideshow could accompany it.
  • Plan for a trip to a local archive or museum and have our students share via Instagram or Twitter (or both) some of the things they’ve found. For those of us without the means or institutional support to put together an archive field trip, the assignment could be configured for digital archives.
  • Scavenger hunt with media-history clues.
  • Organize a class field trip to your local media outlet and have students dig through archives there.
  • Turn class into a game of Jeopardy! or journalism-history trivia with prizes.
  • Create a museum space in a department foyer or hallway within the department for students to showcase journalism history.
  • Create a vintage photo Instagram page. Partner with a local newspaper and pull tons of their early-to-mid twentieth century photos and create a fun Instagram page to share with the community.
  • Assign students to find out how area media are preserving journalism history (or not) at their outlet.
  • Create an activity to do with local elementary, junior high or high school students (might be good to get your College of Education colleagues on board, too).
  • Partner with a local media outlet and do oral histories with their staff.
  • Plan an evening talk about your research that is open to the general public in your community.
  • Get prominent historians on board to do a live Periscope, Facebook Live, or a live Twitter Q&A with students.
  • Engage with your English department colleagues to see if any of them are up for an interdisciplinary media-history project

If any of you are interested in speaking during live Twitter Q&As or video chats with students, please let one of us know at or

If you plan to participate and/or you have some more ideas to add to this list, please either email one of us or post in the AJHA or AEJMC History Division Facebook pages. We would love to note which campuses plan to participate so we can watch for each other and work together in early April. 

Let’s continue to make media history relevant this spring with Media History Engagement Week!

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