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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PDFs of the Intelligencer in its previous newsletter form can be found at the Intelligencer archive. Visit the News page for press releases on the organization's activities.
How did you become involved in AJHA?
I am afraid for the future of the field. Universities are cutting back on liberal arts classes including history in general. Along with professional coursework, AJHA members used to be able to teach stand-along journalism history classes. Unfortunately, these classes often have been squeezed out as the professional curriculum has extended to cover multi-platform and digital communication. The emphasis now is on sellable skills for graduates, not necessarily on expanding their minds by study of the past to chart the future. The drama of history is being exorcised.
Apparently, communication classes so far have escaped the chopping block. Journalism historians must make every effort to ensure these classes include an historical perspective. Also, journalism historians must broaden their interests to cover all types of media, encouraging students to understand how and why various forms of communication arise in response to technical innovations.
I have always been interested in studying how women and minorities have been submerged in the public communication process. Due to current political pressures, the future of courses in gender and ethnic studies looks uncertain. Those of us concerned with the inclusion of marginalized groups in scholarly research must make sure that communications coursework does not neglect this area. Personally, I am planning to study the publicity campaigns of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, certainly not anyone’s hot topic. To me, however, such research may yield understanding of the role of conservative women in today’s rise of what is called Christian nationalism. I became interested in this subject because my grandmother, one of the first women graduates of the University of Missouri, was far more involved in the WCTU than in the suffrage movement in Sedalia, Missouri, the town where I grew up. Today, Sedalia, like almost all of Missouri outside urban areas, is totally Trump territory. To help fathom why, I thought it would be fruitful to study concepts of women’s roles conveyed through journalism and other media forms for several generations in a small-town setting.
For years I have insisted on trying to play the violin. I would be thrilled to be considered half-way as good as a mediocre violinist. I am not. I also belong to several book clubs and naturally prefer historical novels.
Maurine Beasley is professor emerita of Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park.
By Mark Bernhardt
As is true of everyone in the American Journalism Historians Association, I teach journalism history. I developed my university’s U.S. Media History course, which focuses on the history of United States journalism, but also includes other facets of media, such as advertising, movies, comics, and television entertainment. What is different from most members regarding my position, though, is that I am a historian in a history department, and so every course that I teach is a history course. They include courses on specific time periods of U.S. history, topical courses on the American West, sexuality, and World War II, and courses on film history regarding how films have dealt with the historical issues of intersectionality, remembering wartime experiences, and debates over controversial political matters. While journalism history is not a primary focus in most classes that I teach, I do find ways to work it in to my curriculum.
Discussion and analysis of photojournalism is the primary way in which I incorporate journalism history. My own research on journalism has analyzed the use of images in newspapers, from illustration in the early nineteenth century to reproductions of photographs in the late nineteenth century to photojournalism in the early twentieth century. I include photographs in my lecture presentations to help give students a sense of what the period looked like and how historical issues were framed. For example, I have students look at photos when discussing labor strikes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Dust Bowl and migration to California in the 1930s, the Vietnam War, and postindustrial urban decline in the late twentieth century.
Another way in which I incorporate journalism into my classes is through discussion of how advocacy for civil rights has been presented in the press. Whether early twentieth century suffragists, mid-twentieth century African American activists, or late twentieth century gay rights activists, the press has served an important role in defining civil rights activism for the American public, whether in a positive or negative way. I also discuss the existence of the alternative press and how it offered comparative viewpoints to what the mainstream press had to say, and strategies civil rights organizations used to gain positive coverage by the mainstream press.
Reflecting my broader work in the field of media history, in which I have written about how movie and television messaging have been influenced by and shaped public understanding of events, I use movies as primary sources in my classes. For example, my students analyze how the 1927 film It, starring Clara Bow, speaks to the place of young women in 1920s American society. When discussing African American civil rights, I will have my students watch the 1973 film The Spook who sat by the Door and consider what it has to say about the Black Power movement. I also use films in the U.S. Media History class to help my students engage with the various topics that I cover. Network is one that I assign when delving into the commercialization of the news. The Joneses, though hardly a cinematic masterpiece, affords an intriguing look at the lengths to which companies might go to advertise. Bamboozled is a fantastic portrayal of how television entertainment fails to adequately address racial representation. Finally, Wag the Dog provides a comedic look at how news media can be manipulated into pushing war propaganda.
Embracing the adage that journalism is the first draft of history, as a history professor I make it a point to have my students take a look at that first draft in various ways in the different courses that I teach.
Mark Bernhardt is a Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy at Jackson State University.
By Lisa Parcell and Aimee Edmondson
AJHA members overwhelmingly agree we should protect funding for graduate students and junior scholars. Members also believe the most valuable feature of AJHA is the conference itself and the opportunity for feedback on research, networking, and mentoring.
These were two strong positive take aways from the AJHA membership survey deployed in August, a month before our Columbus convention.
If this survey showed one thing, it’s that our membership cares deeply about AJHA and wants to do what is necessary to protect it for future generations. We had 137 completes out of 235 surveys sent out. That’s an impressive 58 percent return rate, when the more standard return rate for member surveys is 30-40 percent. This response alone is a strong indication that our membership takes seriously our budget challenges and wants to be part of the solution.
As one member advocated, “Make cuts for grad students last as they are our only hope of growing in the future.”
President Mike Conway tasked the Long-Range Planning Committee with surveying the membership as we work to reduce costs and while still providing members with the convention experience they have come to expect.
Clearly we have built up a supportive organization that nurtures young scholars and continues to support our senior scholars. But we recognized that we must cut funding for things we all agree are important.
AJHA membership features
When we asked members to rank in importance commonly mentioned features of AJHA membership, items associated with the conference were clearly the most important (in-person conference, feedback on research, and networking and mentoring opportunities). In the middle of the rankings, we had a mix of things including printed copies of AJ, research grants and book awards, leadership and service opportunities, and support for graduate students. At the bottom of the rankings was printed copies of the Southeastern Review of Journalism History.
Mean (lowest=most important)
Feedback on research
Networking and mentoring opportunities
Printed copies of AJ
Research and book awards
Leadership and service opportunities
Support for graduate students
Printed copies of the Southeastern Review of Journalism History journal
AJHA funded items
When asked to rank order 11 items that AJHA currently funds in terms of personal value, items related to research were the top three (Blanchard Dissertation Prize, Joseph McKerns Research Grant, and the Book Award) closely followed by Sweeney graduate student travel stipend, the Rising Scholar Award, and the Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference. Next followed the teaching award and ACEJMC membership. Coming in as least important was the Distinguished Service Award, the Southeastern Symposium, and the Southeastern Review of Journalism History journal.
Blanchard Dissertation Prize
Joseph McKerns Research Grant
Sweeney Graduate Student Travel Stipend
Rising Scholar Award
Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference
National Award for Excellence in Teaching
Distinguished Service Award
Southeastern Review of Journalism History journal
With the Blanchard Dissertation Award, research grants, the Sweeney Graduate Student Travel Stipend, and the Rising Scholar Award all in the top tier of choices for the qualitative rankings, concern for graduate students and young scholars is clear. Other suggestions with more than one comment included suggestions for cutting costs, particularly raising annual dues and considering hybrid or virtual conferences.
Only 2 of our members responded to the question about starting an endowment to say that they had already made a bequest to AJHA in their estate. However, 24 other members said they have considered making such a bequest.
Of the respondents who said they had not left a bequest to AJHA, most cited other priorities—usually family—or a lack of adequate income as a reason they have not considered donating. However, 14 people said the idea had simply not occurred to them and an additional 7 indicated that they would consider it now that they were asked. Not surprisingly, 9 people said they were too early in their career to consider it.
When members were asked to indicate how important or unimportant different aspects of the conference were, the most important aspect was clearly funding for graduate students. This was followed by low hotel room rates and registration fees, the Blanchard Dissertation Prize winners session, the historic tour, the awards luncheon, and a free night for exploring the city. At the bottom was the Outstanding Local Journalist Award and reception, the Saturday night gala, the Donna Allen luncheon, breakfast every morning, and being in an historic hotel.
Mean (highest=most important)
Funding for graduate students
Low hotel room rates
Low registration fee
Blanchard Dissertation Prize winners’ session
Awards luncheon (includes Kobre & teaching award)
Free night for exploring the city
Local journalist award/reception
Saturday night gala
Donna Allen luncheon
Breakfast every morning
Being in an historic hotel
The conference is the jewel of our organization, giving members the chance to network, get feedback and advice on research, and generally be a collegial and supportive group of scholars with a shared interest. Not surprisingly, the funded items our members found the most important (Blanchard Dissertation Prize, McKerns Research Grants, Book Award, Sweeney graduate student travel funding, Rising Scholar Award, and the Joint Journalism and Communication History conference) are also all tied to research, networking, and mentoring. We have a strong mission, and we are staunch defenders of that mission.
Members did offer some ideas for bringing in more revenue including raising membership dues, asking for donations, starting an endowment, and, in the interest of helping our members continue to come to the conference, reducing conference costs by not being in an historic hotel and lowering the price of some of the add-on meals.
Our membership also was extremely positive about the work of the board and leadership, thanking them for asking for membership feedback, doing good work, and making tough decisions. In the two open-ended questions asking members to share their thoughts with the leadership and board, the most frequent comments were simple thank you’s and words of support to the board.
One member wrote, “I have full confidence in your decision-making. This is my all-time favorite organization and my admiration for the membership and leadership knows no bounds.”
Another wrote, “Thanks for making these hard choices. This organization is very important and must endure.”
Of the 137 members who completed the survey, 93 were regular members (67.9%), 16 were lifetime members (11.7%), 5 were students (3.6%), and 23 were retired members (16.8%). The majority of these had been members for over 20 years (41 people) with only 1 person saying it was their first year in the organization. The rest were roughly evenly divided among the other three categories with 24 being members for 2-5 years, 37 being members for 6-10 years, and 34 being members for 11-20 years. Not surprisingly, roughly half (53%) were full-time tenured educators, followed by retired members (19%), full-time non-tenured educators (15%), other (6%), independent scholars (5%), and part-time educators (2%).
Members reported that their institutional support for research expenses, membership dues, and conference registration and travel—a question only asked of those who identified as full or part-time educators—ranged from 0% funding to 100% funding for each category. Conference registration and travel was the most well-funded with a mean of 55.7, followed by research expenses with a mean of 43.4, and membership dues with a mean of 34.2.
In the interest of bringing in more members, a handful of people suggested that AJHA should broaden its scope in terms of how it defines journalism/media history both at the conference and in the journal. One member explained, “We need to continue to broaden the scope of what we do; media history is more than journalism.”
We as an organization have a lot of work ahead of us, but members seem to agree that it is an organization well worth the effort. As one member said, “Thanks for taking this on. It is a terrible job, but thank you for doing the hard work to protect our organization.”
Lisa Parcell and Aimee Edmondson are both Ex-Officio Board Members. Parcell serves as a finance officer and Edmondson is a former president of AJHA.
My doctoral advisor, Dr. Janice Hume at The University of Georgia, is a long-time AJHA member and encouraged me to get involved early in my program. My first AJHA conference was in 2014 in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was my first academic conference ever. I feel very fortunate to have lucked into such an incredible community that has been supporting me from the very beginning of my career.
What drew you to the field of journalism and media history?
I was somewhat atypical of students in my cohort at UGA, and I think of most graduate students at large J-schools. My background was in entertainment, not journalism, and my masters degree was in education, not communication. I had a good bit of teaching experience before pursuing my doctorate but really had no idea what kind of research I was interested in doing. In my first semester we had a Research Methods class where we had to telephone surveys of registered voters and I quickly realized that kind of research was not for me. I was drawn to history for a few reasons. I liked the idea of storytelling and narrative playing an important role in the work. I also liked the detective work we get to do in the archives. But I have to say that a lot of the draw was getting to work with Dr. Hume and other fabulous media historians like Karen Russell and Jay Hamilton at UGA.
Talk some more about your research and how it has evolved.
I truly had no idea what I wanted to do for my dissertation when I started my doctoral work. Once I landed on history as a methodology, I went through many (many many) rounds of topic ideas. I ended up deciding to focus on copyright because I had always wanted to understand that side of the entertainment industry. In the digital age, independent artists can handle so many aspects of their careers on their own. You can design your own t-shirts and posters, build your own website, sell your own merch. But the legal piece is still really nebulous for most creative people to navigate. So much of the way that copyright law works in practice is by the fear of getting sued and the tediousness of its minutia. So I wanted to see if there was a way to put a human face on the history of copyright and make that history more accessible to the average creative person.
As for how its evolved, I think the methodological skills we have as historians are much more transferable than we often give ourselves credit for. My own interest in copyright history is pretty niche, but I’ve had opportunities to collaborate with people working on larger projects that intersect with copyright. I don’t know everything about their topic, but they wouldn’t have time to learn all the copyright minutia either. We can work together to produce something with more depth and richness than either of us would be able to do on our own. I’ve also really enjoyed working on different digital humanities projects that synergize my teaching and creative interests in media production with my research skills in history.
What hobbies/interests do you have outside of academia?
Music is my first love, and I still enjoy playing guitar and singing, though I don’t get to do it nearly as much as I used to. I am really into podcasts, both as a listener and a producer. My latest project was a podcast on President Jimmy Carter that has been well received. Its available at RecollectingCarter.com.
Jason Lee Guthrie is a media historian at Clayton State University interested in the intersections of creativity and economics. He has specific interests in the creative industries and intellectual property law.
By Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen
When I took media history as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, three components determined my grade: a midterm (blue book), final (also a blue book) and 10-page research paper. It was a lot of writing – my hand still cramps when I think of those blue book exams – and followed a rigid structure. As a teaching assistant, the courses I taught followed a similar set up. It was only natural that, when it was time for me to start prepping my first classes as an assistant professor, I found myself following the class grading structure that was familiar.
But as the semester unfolded, I realized that this structure was not working. The exams weren’t the problem – it was the research paper. Students weren’t excited about the paper because they were intimidated by the structure, by the topic and by how much of their grade depended on one assignment. They spent their time trying to write less about what interested them and more about what they thought the instructor wanted to read. It wasn’t that the students couldn’t do the work of historical research, it was that they weren’t inspired to. In defaulting to what I knew – and what made me comfortable – I had neglected to create an environment for students to take (calculated) risks and get their hands dirty doing history.
My challenge was to create an assignment that was structured enough to give students the confidence to analyze historical primary sources, but also provided students with enough flexibility to pursue a topic of interest to them and present their findings in a format that was a better match for their skillset. On the hunt for a research paper alternative, I attended an active learning symposium hosted by the University of Idaho’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. As I listened to case studies from my colleagues, I realized there were a wide variety of assignment strategies I could employ in my classes that would allow me to achieve my learning objectives without using the traditional research paper. I settled Ignite-style presentations – short, five-minute, TED-talk-like presentations about a topic students would select themselves and deliver with only a slide deck and sparse notes.
For my class, these presentations proved ideal. Students would use the same skills as writing a traditional research paper, but the end result was different. Synthesizing their secondary research findings and primary source analysis into a five-minute presentation required them to master a topic and explain complicated and complex material quickly. Creating a slide deck to accompany their presentations added a visual requirement that enhanced their written work (it also made the presentations more entertaining and engaging). This flexibility in format was especially appealing to the wide variety of majors in my course, several who had last written a formal essay in high school.
As an educator, I find it important to think critically about how my assignments are serving my students – an extension of the student-centered care that Bailey Dick discussed in her recent (and excellent) Intelligencer column. What worked for me may not work for my students, and what works for my students now may not work in several years. Re-thinking this assignment forced me to articulate the learning outcomes for my class and really think through exactly what I wanted students to get out of these assignments. I realized that I needed to better understand the students’ apprehensions and fears, and their interests and strengths.
I have yet to inspire a student to look through microfilm rolls (some things about historical research remain too intimidating). But I have seen student enthusiasm for this project increase and with it the quality of the work being done. Students have engaged with the big questions facing media history – whose history is preserved and what does that mean for our understanding of history – without too much nudging from me. They’ve used this project to explore questions about diversity, media narratives and institutional power structures.They’ve taken this as a chance to research topics we don’t get to cover in detail in my class (or ones mentioned in passing in other courses). And at the end of every semester, I get to listen to 30 presentations that showcase the breadth of media history. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I allowed my students to step into theirs.
Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen is an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho and the recent winner of AEJMC's Jinx C. Broussard Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Media History.
By Caryl Cooper
Once again, AJHA lived up to its reputation as the destination conference for scholars dedicated to exploring the people and events that have built the mass communication industry and influenced society. This year, more that 90 scholars converged at the historic Westin Great Southern Columbus Hotel. Most of our members realized that Columbus would be a memorable conference when they walked into the hotel lobby. To say that the hotel is beautiful is an understatement. The looks of wonder, smiles on everyone’s faces and the thanks for finding such a gem were priceless! Presenting historical knowledge in an historic hotel is truly a unique experience.
Scholars receive awards throughout the conference. On Friday, Molly Thacker received the Margaret A. Blanchard Dissertation Award. In addition to Tracy Lucht’s installation an AJHA president for 2023-2024, research and service awards were given during Saturday’s General Business Meeting.
Giving scholars the opportunity to present their research to other scholars is the mission for most academic conventions. For AJHA, panel sessions devoted to discussions that make the connection between our past and our present are equally important and memorable. Felicia Ross’ local panel, Ohio: a Haven for Presidential Beginnings, focused on Ohio’s influence on our presidents (eight were born or lived in the state) featured local historians. Also notable was AJHA President Mike Conway’s panel that addressed the future of inclusive history and the challenges some of our members are experiencing. Earnest Perry’s panel explored the evolution of political and racial consciousness in the black press and how those newspapers bridged the gap between mainstream and advocacy media.
In addition to focusing on historical research, AJHA’s convention is known for its focus on recognizing members for their research and teaching achievements.
Thursday’s Awards Luncheon featured LSU’s John Maxwell Hamilton, this year’s winner of the Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement and Temple University’s Erin Coyle, winner of the National Award for Excellence in Teaching. Coyle’s address about her commitment to students, teaching philosophy and aspirations was moving and memorable.
Making Community Connections
Each year, AJHA builds ties with the local journalist community by presenting the Local Journalist Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Public Interest to a local journalist in the host community during the Thursday evening reception. The convention’s Local Host Committee is tasked with identifying candidates that fit the description and selecting a winner. This year, the committee, comprised of Aimee Edmondson (Ohio University), Felicia Ross (Ohio State University) and LoWanda James (Conference Assistant and hometown resident), selected Jerry Revish for the honor. Revish is an award-winning journalist who reported news throughout the region for more than four decades. His reporting helped exonerate a man wrongfully convicted of rape. He received numerous awards for his commitment to truth: 13 Emmys and four regional Edward R Murrow Awards, and he was inducted into the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005.
In addition to identifying local journalists, AJHA uses the Donna Allen Luncheon to feature female journalists that are recognized in the community as having made a difference. This year the Local Host Committee identified two women worthy of this honor: Angela Pace, a 40-year television journalist and director of community affairs for WBNS-TV, and Edwina Blackwell Clark, executive editor of the Columbus Dispatch. For this luncheon, the Local Host Committee went back to the future and had a roundtable discussion moderated by Caryl Cooper, emerita, University of Alabama. The roundtable attracted many of the hotel staff that knew and respected Angela Pace.
Gala and more
More than 50 members gathered at Sidebar Tapas Bar and Grill, a local restaurant known for authentic South American cuisine. The Gala is a special time for conversation, networking and fun. Everyone gave the restaurant a five-star review.
Caryl Cooper is AJHA Conference Coordinator and an Emerita Professor from the University of Alabama.
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.
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: https://givebutter.com/c/AJHA23 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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