Intelligencer is a blog featuring teaching and research essays as well as news about the organization and its members.

To submit member news or suggest a blog topic, contact Intelligencer editor Melony Shemberger.

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.

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  • 20 Mar 2019 4:35 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    By Ross Collins, North Dakota State University

    Louis XIV ruled 72 years. He must have been a king of robust health.

    Except that he wasn’t. But people weren’t supposed to know that. The press made sure of that.

    Except it didn’t.

    Alexis Lévrier of the University of Rheims writes in last spring’s Paris journalism history review, Le Temps des Médias, that the “fake news” of Louis XIV’s good health arose from an effort of the court to exert total control over the three newspapers of Paris. They were expected to celebrate the robust health of Louis from cradle to (nearly) grave: a strong, virile and vigorous king of Europe’s (perhaps) most influential monarchy.

    That was a journalistic stretch, Lévrier writes. Louis’ mother, Queen Anne of Austria, gave birth in 1638 at the then advanced maternal age of 37 to a fragile boy who worried doctors. But not the press. At least not in its reporting. So often did Paris read of the “perfect health” of the prince that they actually became suspicious.

    Louis overcame the concerning birth. But in celebrating the vaunted vigor of the king the Paris press had to manage some considerable vexes. At age 9 the prince contracted smallpox. The court’s response would set its press management style through many more noisome maladies that would befall the king, from gonorrhea (at age 17), to typhoid (19) to gout (episodic from 47). The approach: Report little of nothing until the king was out of the woods. Then, as in the smallpox case, report a blow-by-blow description including such details as “delirium” and “pustules.”

    A graphic account of the king’s misery after his recovery served to celebrate his strength and courage, the “exceptional resistance of his body,” writes Lévrier. This was the king who never faltered, never aged.

    But the court’s control of Paris journalism faced a challenge beyond reach: newspapers published outside of France and aimed at French readers.

    Particularly Dutch newspapers offered a lively counterpoint to the highly controlled journals of Paris. They read between the lines to presume what really was happening in the court, and were smuggled back to France to offer spirited competition to the official view. But they also were not reliable.

    As fake as the news about Louis XIV’s health was in the censored press, it was as often as fake in the foreign press, writes Lévier. By the early 1700s the king was Methuselah by era standards, and the foreign papers proclaimed his demise so often that the they became as sensationally unreliable as the court-controlled press. In August 1715 gangrene appeared on the king’s left leg. It was two weeks before the doctors realized it may not be sciatica after all.

    The Paris journalists maintained silence. The foreign papers could not scour out any real news but, because the king had become Europe’s greatest celebrity, responded by latching onto to whatever rumor could be caught or contrived. The king actually did die Sept. 1, 1715.

    The court’s control over the king’s health news kept his subjects in the dark until the end. But in the long run it was bad policy. “Notably it fed almost to absurdity a vicious circle impossible to stop,” Lévier notes, as it encouraged fake news from the foreign press, leading the crown to stack lie on further exaggerated lie regarding the king’s illnesses.

    Why am I telling you this story? Well, aren’t we all still interested in King Louie? It’s only been three centuries, after all.

    More germane, it pulls from a large body of international journalism history research that we in AJHA almost never hear about. Our sister group in Paris, the Society for the History of Media, publishes this journal. While the language barrier is a challenge, I think we can do more to internationalize our discipline. I hope we can find ways to strengthen our global reach, and intend to consider ideas in future columns.

  • 20 Mar 2019 3:23 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    Will Mari, assistant professor in the department of communication at Northwest University, had his book, A Short History of Disruptive Journalism Technologies 1960-1990, published in February 2019 by Routledge as part of its "Disruptions" series. The book covers the history of the computer in U.S. newsrooms during the latter Cold War. It is the first such media-history account of newsroom computerization. 

    For more information:

    Erika Pribanic-Smith, associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Arlington, is the co-author (with law scholar Jared Schroeder) of Emma Goldman’s No-Conscription League and the First Amendment published in late 2018 by Routledge. This book analyzes the communications that led to Goldman's arrest — writings in Mother Earth, a mass-mailed manifesto, and speeches related to compulsory military service during World War I — as well as the ensuing legal proceedings and media coverage. The authors place Goldman’s Supreme Court appeal in the context of the more famous Schenck and Abrams trials to demonstrate her place in First Amendment history, while providing insight into wartime censorship and the attitude of the mainstream press toward radical speech.

    For more information:

    Editor's note: Please recommend books written by AJHA members to your libraries for purchase.

  • 20 Mar 2019 3:13 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    By Rebecca Taylor, Siena College

    It was 375 years ago that John Milton penned what would become the oft-cited essay against censorship by royal decree, Areopagitica: A speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing, to the Parliament of England. Published in 1644, the text is arguably a sophisticated reading assignment for undergraduate journalism students to interpret.

    But Milton’s arguments against government suppression of the press can be used in the undergraduate journalism classroom, to analyze contemporary cases in modern media, and to enhance the student’s understanding of First Amendment protections.

    As a professor who teaches communications law at a small liberal arts college, students generally grimace when I assign Areopagitica, which is often one of the first required texts in my media law seminar. 

    The importance of the assignment is not just to digest the complex text, but to underscore its application to contemporary cases involving the First Amendment, and more specifically prior restraint. Prior restraint is pre-publication censorship, and generally held to be unconstitutional.

    To underscore the applicability of Milton’s essay, I pair the reading with a contemporary case.  In one of my classes, we used Milton’s arguments to analyze President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop the publication of the book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse, amid his claims that the book contained defamatory content. Another semester, we applied Milton’s arguments to examine efforts to prohibit a controversial website from providing detailed instructions to print and assemble a gun using a 3-D printer, a case that was pending in federal court.

    Students are required to argue all of the relevant arguments from Areopagitica they can identify to the facts of the contemporary case – that truth will prevail, that censorship is insulting and paternalistic, and that legitimizing censorship in one form would inevitably lead society down a slippery slope, permitting government to sanction other forms of self-expression.  And while it is important to note that critics have sharply criticized Milton for his limited view of freedom of the press, the merits of some of the arguments against prior restraint maintain relevance today.

    I should note I provide a link to an annotated version of Areopagitica, which students find immensely helpful in understanding the text.  Some students tell me they’ve elected to read Areopagitica aloud in pairs to better dissect its meaning.

    Not only am I impressed with their performance, but the students also express genuine pride in demystifying such a famous, yet complex, text.

    Moreover, I find students are better able to digest the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court in Near v. Minnesota, the landmark case that held a presumption of unconstitutionality in acts of prior restraint. Having tackled a 17th century essay on censorship, they exhibit greater confidence when examining United States Supreme Court decisions. Clearly, the Court’s legal language can be sophisticated, but in general, not so challenging as 1644 Milton. And the historical document’s relevance to contemporary cases in journalism law and ethics can make for an engaging class assignment.

    Rebecca Taylor, J.D., is director of the Journalism program at Siena College in New York, where she teaches reporting and communication law.

  • 20 Mar 2019 1:44 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    By Jordan Stenger, Augusta University

    Undergraduate and graduate students from universities in Alabama, Florida and Georgia presented their research at the American Journalism Historians Association’s Southeast Symposium in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Feb. 1 and 2.

    The Symposium kicked off on Friday, Feb. 1, with Leonard Teel’s talk on his book, Reporting the Cuban Revolution: How Castro Manipulated American Journalists. Teel recounted how he found his topic from a short newspaper topic and answered questions from students about the research and writing process.

    On Saturday, 21 students, many of whom were first-time presenters, shared their research and answered questions from the other Symposium attendees. Students said they found the Symposium to be a friendly and supportive conference setting, especially for beginners.

    Alex Sigars, a senior at Augusta University, was the first to present on Saturday.

    “I found the experience eye opening,” Sigars said. “It revealed to me the great diversity of journalism history research and the implications it can have on us today as a society.”

    Another undergraduate student from Augusta University, Alexis Parr, also found the experience to be rewarding.

    “The Panama City Research trip gave me the college experience that I’ve always wanted,” Parr said. “I loved getting to know my peers better while also improving my resume.”

    After a long day of presentations, conference co-coordinator Dianne Bragg from The University of Alabama presented awards for the best graduate and undergraduate papers.

    Mackenzie Bryan, an undergraduate student from the University of Florida, won first place for his paper, “How the Media Shaped the Political and Racial Narratives of the Louis vs. Schmeling Rematch.”

    “Winning first place was a huge honor,” Bryan said. “It’s the academic achievement that I’m most proud of, and I have to thank my professor, Dr. Bernell Tripp, for her guidance, her encouragement, and for simply believing in me and my writing.”

    Sigars, who won third place for her paper in the undergraduate division, said regarding her experience at the conference, “The tools I gained from going to this conference I will most assuredly continue to use in the future."

    Here is the complete list of paper award winners:

    Undergraduate Student Paper Winners

    1. How the Media Shaped the Political and Racial Narratives of the Louis vs. Schmeling Rematch — Mackenzie Bryan, University of Florida.

    2. The Augusta Chronicle’s Coverage of the Seminole Wars: How it Changed Over Time — Jordan Stenger, Augusta University.

    3. Progressive Era Georgia Suffrage Journalists Enforce and Utilize Social Contract Theory — Alex Sigers, Augusta University.

    Graduate Student Paper Winners

    1. Can A Flapper Be A Wife? A 1920s Marriage Editor Asks — Serena Bailey, University of Alabama.

    2. Sexist Sports Coverage and Commentary in The Times-Picayune (1891-1994): A Longitudinal Qualitative Analysis — Nicole Morales, Universiy of Alabama.

    3. Incident or Massacre: Race, Riot, and Representation in The Palmetto State — Tanya Ott-Fulmore, University of Alabama.

  • 20 Mar 2019 1:39 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    The American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA) seeks nominations and applications for the editor of American Journalism, the organization’s quarterly refereed journal of media history, established in 1983 and published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

    The deadline for applications is Sept. 1, 2019.

    The position begins Jan. 1, 2021, with a transfer of some editorial duties in January 2020.

    The AJHA Board of Directors appoints the editor of American Journalism to a four-year term, subject to annual review and reconfirmation by the Board. Consecutive terms may be held.

    The editor receives a stipend of $1,000 per issue.

    The editor’s responsibilities include the timely processing of manuscripts submitted to American Journalism, whether on speculation or by solicitation; working with authors to prepare manuscripts for publication; and coordinating with the staff of Routledge, Taylor & Francis to publish four issues per year, including selection of content, editing, and proofreading.

    The editor works with a book review editor, digital media editor, and, if desired, an associate editor. The editor may recruit and appoint editorial staff members. In addition, the editor works with the Editorial Advisory Board, whose duties include continuous development of the journal and selection of the annual “Best American Journalism Article.” The editor organizes and presides over a meeting of the Editorial Advisory Board at the annual AJHA conference.

    The editor works with the treasurer and finance officer of AJHA on budget matters, handles all journal correspondence, and prepares an annual report for the AJHA Board and membership. The incoming editor will work with the editorial staff to maintain the journal’s website, which includes additional information, teaching materials, and author interviews. The incoming editor also will work with the editorial staff to share editorial content on social media.

    Applicants and nominees must be current members of AJHA. They should be able to write and edit clearly and concisely, and they must understand and appreciate the broad range of literature and methods of the media history field. Preference will be given to tenured applicants who have established reputations as journalism/media history scholars and are affiliated with an institution that can provide support to the editor with consideration to office space, travel, use of equipment, provision of student/staff assistance, and/or course release.

    Applications should include a statement indicating a willingness to serve, a curriculum vitae, and a letter of institutional support. Applications or nominations should be sent to the AJHA Publications Committee Chair Paulette D. Kilmer at

  • 20 Mar 2019 1:20 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    The American Journalism Historians Association invites paper entries, panel proposals, and abstracts of research in progress on any facet of media history for its 38th annual convention to be held Oct. 3-5 in Dallas, Texas.

    The deadline for all submissions is June 1, 2019.

    More information on the 2019 AJHA convention is available at

    The AJHA views journalism history broadly, embracing print, broadcasting, advertising, public relations, and other forms of mass communication that have been inextricably intertwined with the human past. Because the AJHA requires presentation of original material, research papers, research in progress, and panels submitted to the convention may not have been submitted to or accepted by another convention or publication.

    Research submitted for the conference must be significantly different from previous work, meaning the submitted research would represent new archival research, interviews, or content analysis that has not been presented before at a conference and represents a new departure from prior presented or published work. Research that previously was presented as a research-in-progress presentation at an AJHA convention or the Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference, however, may be submitted as a research paper. Each author may submit at most one paper, one research in progress, and one panel.


    Authors may submit only one research paper. They also may submit one research-in-progress abstract and one panel proposal on a significantly different topic than the paper. Research entries must be no longer than 25 pages of text, double-spaced, in 12-point type, not including notes. The Chicago Manual of Style is recommended but not required.

    Papers must be submitted electronically as Word attachments. Please send the following:

     An email with the attached paper, saved with author identification only in the file name and not in the paper.

     A separate 150-word abstract as a Word attachment (no PDFs) with no author identification.

     Author’s info (email address, telephone number, institutional affiliation, and undergraduate student, graduate student, or faculty status) in the text of the email.

    Send papers to Authors will be notified in mid-July whether their papers have been accepted.

    Authors of accepted papers must register for the convention and attend to present their research.

    Accepted papers are eligible for several awards, including the following:

    • David Sloan Award for the outstanding faculty research paper ($250 prize).
    • Robert Lance Award for outstanding student research paper ($100 prize).
    • Jean Palmegiano Award for outstanding international/transnational journalism history research paper ($150 prize).
    • J. William Snorgrass Award for outstanding minority-journalism research paper.
    • Maurine Beasley Award for outstanding women’s-history research paper.
    • Wally Eberhard Award for outstanding research in media and war ($50 prize).

    Research Committee Chair Erin Coyle ( of Louisiana State University is coordinating paper submissions. Authors will be notified in mid-July whether their papers have been accepted.


    Preference will be given to proposals that involve the audience and panelists in meaningful discussion or debate on original topics relevant to journalism history.

    Preference also will be given to panels that present diverse perspectives on their topics.

    Entries must be no longer than three pages of text, double-spaced, in 12-point type, with one-inch margins. Panel participants must register for and attend the convention.

    Panel proposals must be submitted electronically as Word attachments. Please include the following:

     A title and brief description of the topic.

     The moderator and participants’ info (name, institutional affiliation, student or faculty status).

     A brief summary of each participant’s presentation.

    Send proposals to

    No individual may be on more than one panel. Panel organizers must make sure panelists have not agreed to serve on multiple panels. Panel organizers also must secure commitment from panelists to participate before submitting the proposal.

    Moderators are discussion facilitators and may not serve as panelists. Failure to adhere to the guidelines will lead to rejection of the proposal.

    Panelists may submit a research paper and/or research in progress abstract.

    Rob Wells ( of the University of Arkansas is coordinating the panel competition. Authors of panel proposals will be notified in mid-July whether their panels have been accepted. Panelists must register for the convention and attend.


    Each author may submit only one research in progress. The research-in-progress category is for work that will NOT be completed before the conference. Research in progress must be significantly different from previously presented or published research.

    Participants will give an overview of their research purpose and progress, not a paper presentation, as the category’s purpose is to allow for discussion and feedback on work in progress. RIP authors may also submit a research paper on a significantly different topic.

    For research-in-progress submissions, send a blind abstract of your study. Include the proposal title in the abstract. The abstract should include a clear purpose statement as well as a brief description of your primary sources. Abstracts must be no longer than two pages of text, double-spaced, in 12-point type, with 1-inch margins, excluding notes.

    Primary sources should be described in detail in another double-spaced page.

    Entries that do not follow these guidelines will be rejected.

    The AJHA research-in-progress competition is administered electronically.

     Proposals must be submitted as Word attachments, saved with author identification ONLY in the file names and NOT in the text of the proposal.

     Each proposal must be submitted as an attachment, with author’s info (name, project title, telephone number, email address, institutional affiliation, and student or faculty status) in the text of the email.

    Send research in progress proposals to Authors will be notified in mid-July whether their proposals have been accepted. Authors of accepted proposals must register for the convention and attend.

    Authors whose work is accepted must register for and attend the convention.

    Keith Greenwood ( of University of Missouri is coordinating the research in progress competition.

  • 14 Mar 2019 9:58 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    The Center for Intercultural Dialogue announces its second annual video competition, open to students enrolled in any college or university during spring 2019. 

    Intercultural dialogue (ICD) is “the art and science of understanding the Other.” ICD can include international, interracial, interethnic and interfaith interactions, but it is always active (“a matter of what someone does”) rather than passive (“a matter of what someone knows”). Typically, people assume that ICD requires face-to-face interaction. This competition asks: “How do social media influence intercultural dialogue?” Entries must be between 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length and will be accepted May 1-31, 2019, at the URL to be posted to the CID website by May 1. Longer videos will be disqualified.

    You are invited to discuss intercultural dialogue in a class, perhaps showing winning entries from 2018, and to suggest students produce videos as their responses. Please encourage students to be creative, show off their knowledge and skills, and have fun with this topic.

    The top award winner will receive a $200 prize. All award-winning entries will be posted to the CID YouTube channel and highlighted on the CID website, LinkedIn group, Facebook group,and Twitter feed, through posts describing the creators and highlighting each of their videos. Perhaps most important to student learning, all entries will be sent comments from the judges. Winning entries last year came from not only the USA, but also Italy, the UK, and Peru.

    For more information, visit

    Contact Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, CID director, with any questions at

  • 14 Mar 2019 9:46 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    By Natascha Toft Roelsgaard, Ohio University

    Back in 2006, I spent nearly four weeks driving through the southern states with my family. From the back of a rental van, I took in the view of the open plains and tattered shotgun houses that Hurricane Katrina had ripped apart, as we drove through Louisiana toward Mississippi. To say that I was overwhelmed by what I saw would be a complete understatement. For a teenage kid coming from Denmark, a small Scandinavian country who invented the concept of “hygge” to sustain the long and dark winter months, natural disasters were something that belonged on TV, not in real life.

    As we witnessed the aftermath of the hurricane, I recall being captivated by the journalists who went out of their way to report on the people that Katrina had left behind, who were now facing displacement and poverty. I realized then the importance of journalism as a means for these people to tell their stories and voice their concerns; that the work and grits of these reporters were essential in telling the rest of the world what was going on. It took me nearly ten years, and a rather windy road, to realize that I wanted to be a journalist myself, and that I too wanted to tell the stories often untold. It hit me the first time I walked into Mike Sweeney’s office, who had by chance—and to my luck—been assigned as my academic adviser when I came to Ohio University for an exchange semester in 2015. There he was, amongst stacks of papers, books, and colorful oil paintings, leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed, telling me about his life as a journalist and historian. Sweeney’s passion and guidance steered me toward a master’s degree in journalism. It has been more than three years since I first walked into his office, and I am now in my first year of pursuing a doctoral degree in journalism at E.W. Scripps. His mentorship and guidance—including his wicked Trivia knowledge—has been a source of inspiration and motivation for me to get where I am today. He was also the one who encouraged me to submit my work to AJHA.

    When I attended AJHA in Salt Lake City this fall, I was amazed by the kindness and camaraderie I encountered there. I had been told ahead of time that the organization would be extremely welcoming and that it was more like an academic family than a formal conference, and oh how true it was! Being amongst a group of fellow historians, whose work I have been admiring for years (Maurine Beasley!), watching them do their magic and share my work with them was both intimidating and humbling, but most of all, extremely uplifting.

    AJHA is a wonderful opportunity for graduate students to interact with historians from all across the country. It is without a doubt intimidating to present your work in front of your academic heroes, but their willingness to share their experience and research was overwhelming. The support and advice I received after presenting my work at the conference is invaluable to my further studies, and it has allowed me not only to broaden my research scope, but furthermore opened doors for potential collaboration with fellow historians in the future.

    I left the conference feeling inspired and supported by my newfound academic pack, and I cannot wait to go back and see everyone again.

  • 14 Mar 2019 9:16 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    The American Journalism Historians Association seeks applications for its annual Joseph McKerns Research Grant Awards.

    The research grant is intended to provide research assistance and to recognize and reward the winners. Up to four grants for up to $1,250 each will be rewarded upon review and recommendation of the Research Grant Committee. McKerns Research Grant Awards may be used for travel or other research related expenses, but not for salary.
 Awardees must submit a brief article to the Intelligencer newsletter about their completed research by Sept. 1, 2019, discussing method, findings, complications, significance.


    All current AJHA full members with a minimum of three years' membership at the time of application are eligible. The research must be related to mass media history. Awardees are expected to continue their membership through the grant period. Members may apply for a McKerns Research Grant once every five years.

    Application requirements:

    — An application form.

    —  A 1- to 3-page prospectus/overview of the project, including a budget (which should include a listing of amount and sources of other support, if appropriate), timelines, and expected outlets for the research.

    —  If appropriate, include Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from the applicant's university.

    — A shortened curriculum vitae (no more than 3 pages). Grant applications must be submitted via email to Research Grant Committee Chair Erin Coyle at Materials may be submitted as PDF files or Word documents by June 1, 2019.


    Please complete this form and send it with electronic versions of your vita and proposal by June 1, 2019, to the email address below.

    Proposal Title:




    Phone: (home) (cell)


    Number of years as AJHA member:

    Year of any previous AJHA grant:

    Name, title and address of college/university official to notify if you receive a grant:

    For questions regarding the grant application or process, contact Erin Coyle, AJHA Research Grant Committee Chair, via email at

    By June 1, 2019, send the form, your proposal, vitae, and any other pertinent documents as email attachments to

    The AJHA Research Grant Award is designed to provide research assistance to qualified members. Up to four grants for up to $1,250 each will be awarded each year.

    All current AJHA full members with a minimum of three years' membership at the time of application are eligible. The applicant must be the principal investigator of the research project. The research project must be related to mass media history. Awardees are expected to continue their membership through the grant period.

    Proposals may be returned to applicants with requests for additional information.

    DEADLINE: June 1, 2019

  • 09 Feb 2019 3:59 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    AEJMC’s History Division announces the 35th annual competition for the Covert Award in Mass Communication History.

    The $500 award will be presented to the author of the best mass communication history article or essay published in 2018. Book chapters in edited collections also may be submitted.

    The award was endowed by the late Catherine L. Covert, professor of public communications at Syracuse University and former head of the History Division. 

    An electronic copy in .pdf form of the published article/essay/chapter should be submitted via email to Dr. Sheila Webb,, by March 1, 2019. The publication may be self-submitted or submitted by others, such as an editor or colleague.

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