Intelligencer is a blog featuring thoughtful essays on mass communication history teaching and research as well as highlighting the work of our members.

To suggest an essay, contact us at

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.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 27 Feb 2024 9:30 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Natalie Bonner, Alex Boothe, and Caleb Aguayo

    University students from institutions in the Southeastern U.S. gathered to present their research at the American Journalism Historians Association’s 2024 Southeast Symposium on Feb. 3.

    The Symposium aims to foster a welcoming environment for undergraduate and graduate students to present their research and to promote scholarly conversation among the students and their peers.

    This year’s research topics ranged from comic book history to the media coverage of historic events, including World Wars I and II, the 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire and Native American newspaper opposition to Alaskan fish canneries.

    Makenzi Azeman, an undergraduate student from the University of Florida who researched the comparisons between Nazi propaganda and Israel-Palestine focused political cartoons, said she enjoyed the wide range of topics presented.

    “It was very enlightening to hear about so many different great topics,” Azeman said. “I’m really glad I came because I’m a big fan of history and it was all really interesting to learn about.”

    Faculty from the participating institutions recommended the students to present their research, and they then reviewed the students’ research to select the most comprehensive undergraduate and graduate papers for awards.

    Tressie Nuñeza psychology major from Samford University, focused on the changing images of Batman’s archnemesis, the Joker, in the history of DC comic books. While unrelated to her major, she said she enjoyed researching a topic that was of personal interest to her.

    “I just thought it was really cool to talk about it and that people were receptive and actually enjoyed it,” Nuñez said. “I really enjoyed the conference, and hearing that everyone else’s topics and ideas were broader than I had even thought about was really awesome.”

    Justin Gray, an undergraduate student from Augusta University, worked alongside his professor, David Bulla, on a paper that examined the The National and its failed business model as a daily sports paper.

    “It was a great experience. I liked the location and getting away for a few days.” Gray said. “I enjoyed everyone’s presentation and being able to present my work.”

    More information about AJHA and its Southeast Symposium can be found here.

    Natalie Bonner, Alex Boothe, and Caleb Aguayo are graduate students earning their master's degrees at the University of Alabama. They each presented at the Southeast Symposium this year. They are pictured above. 
  • 20 Feb 2024 11:57 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you become involved in AJHA?

    I learned about AJHA through my colleagues, Drs. Mike Conway and Gerry Lanosga in the Media School at Indiana University Bloomington and Dr. Rachel Grant at University of Florida-Gainesville. They each shared how the network fortified them professionally and personally. I learned more about the group after receiving the inaugural microgrant to support my research on the late journalist Mattie Smith Colin of The Chicago Defender. Colin covered not only food and fashion but also the tragic Emmett Till lynching in 1955. Colin’s riveting coverage of Till’s death and the return of his body from Mississippi to Chicago centered the experience of the young child’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley. The event marked a critical moment in the long Black freedom struggle.

    My career and Colin’s overlapped in Chicago during the early 2000s. I had no idea of the depth of her work and life in Chicago. I appreciate greatly AJHA’s belief in the project, allowing me to further explore a Black woman’s career in American journalism history.

    How do you define political and everyday life journalism? How do you conduct research on the connection between these two genres?

    I define political and everyday life journalism through interdisciplinary lenses, which includes journalism studies, history, and sociology. For the political, I’m guided in my inquiry by Michael Schudson’s perspectives on journalism as a democratic tool to evoke empathy and inform citizens about policies informing their decisions. Historian Robin D.G. Kelley’s insights into the Black freedom struggle and its emancipatory possibilities help me to see the political through a different paradigm. An everyday life definition comes from several scholars, including sociologist Erving Goffman. He views everydayness as a series of interactions and experiences people engage in daily—either significant or simple.

    During my daily journalism career in news and features, I observed the values placed on each within the newsroom. Based on my experiences, semi-structured interviews, and archives, I look to enlighten scholars and audiences about the connection between the two genres. Analyzing text or transcripts allows me to see how themes about race, class, gender, culture, and politics appear within one or more articles or images. Working at the intersection of both the political and everyday has uncovered nuances about journalism content, production, and its producers.

    What excites you about archival work?

    I’ve been exploring Black and mainstream newspapers for my Mattie Smith Colin project. I love it! I am transported back in time observing “woke culture” and Black people’s lives, filled with discussions about race, voting rights, international affairs, and fancy social affairs. The status quo stories about a historically marginalized group seen in mainstream papers are debunked. I grew up reading The Indianapolis Recorder to my grandmother and my father carried the Chicago Defender in his hometown of rural West Point, Mississippi. He said he had a pen pal through the Defender’s Bud Billiken Club. We always had Ebony and Essence magazines in the house.

    Also, when I conduct archival work, I like to see the connections between people, places, and events researched. In the future, I plan to learn more about network analysis to further illustrate these relationships. Visuals tell stories.

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of academia?

    I have been working on life/work balance. I love to cultivate plants, take nature walks, knit, travel, spend time with family and friends, and practice my calligraphy. My hobbies rejuvenate me and inspire my writing. My new interest is genealogy. I get excited finding and verifying facts, and then, weaving together a more comprehensive narrative of my maternal and paternal family’s American experience.

    Dr. Lisa D. Lenoir is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University Bloomington. 

  • 20 Feb 2024 11:17 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Molly Thacker

    In recent years, the arrival of unaccompanied immigrant children to the United States has galvanized public opinion, confounded elected officials, and generated media coverage both heartfelt and hysterical. As Americans grapple with how to best address these young people, the long and unexamined history of unaccompanied child migration to the United States often remains overlooked. In my dissertation, I sought to understand how the nation’s first attempts at regulating this unique form of migration at the turn of the twentieth century influenced modern laws and perceptions. After conducting research in 1,300 immigration casefiles of unaccompanied children stored in the National Archives and over 4,000 clippings from 193 different newspapers and periodicals, I realized that the news media played a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and government actions regarding these most vulnerable of immigrants.

    Journalism history was not an initial focus of my dissertation, but as I perused the archived casefiles, I understood how this story could not be told without analyzing media influence. I found numerous instances of clippings sent to immigration officials by the public, urging action for detained children based on stories that pulled at their heartstrings, in addition to interoffice memos referencing that morning’s Washington Post or bureaucrats fretting about how editorials would spin their decisions. American newspapers were not just a window into how the public viewed this form of migration—journalists were active participants in shaping the discourse, legislation, and lived experiences of unaccompanied immigrant children.

    I argue that sensational newspaper coverage regarding the arrival of Greek and Italian boys contributed to the pathologizing of unaccompanied child migration and led to the first federal laws regulating this practice. In contrast to earlier portrayals of Irish and German unaccompanied children, praised in the media for their plucky spirit and apparent desire to become Americans, newspapers painted these newcomers from southern Europe as unloved, neglected spawn from broken homes who would undoubtedly become future criminals or dependents on state coffers. Media coverage can shape the contours of debate, and the hysteria and moral panics generated by such stories manufactured consent for new restrictions on unaccompanied child immigrants.

    However, some children used the media to their own advantage, and newspapers became a platform of protest and agitation for unaccompanied immigrants and their advocates. One such instance was Shlomi Kleinman, a 12-year-old stowaway detained by officials at Ellis Island in 1907. After escaping an abusive father in Warsaw and evading Russian imperial soldiers, he arrived in New York seeking his mother who had immigrated years before; however, he had no address, only the names of two uncles with whom he believed she was living. Before Shlomi could be deported, aid societies placed advertisements in the city’s Yiddish press searching for his uncles in the Lower East Side, and major New York papers printed his pitiful yarn. Once the Associated Press newswire circulated his story, Ellis Island and immigration officials in Washington became inundated with letters from across the country, pledging support for the boy if his mother could not be found. But against all odds, the uncles heard the news, and indeed, Shlomi’s mom was there. The boy was duly admitted, and census records confirm they made a home together in Manhattan—a reunion made possible thanks to the power of the press.

    While modern sensibilities may be shocked by the thought of children embarking on treacherous migrations alone, Americans have welcomed such children before. My research demonstrates the weighty position that news media held in influencing which unaccompanied children were met with succor or with scorn, a role it still occupies today.

    Molly Thacker is a doctoral student at Georgetown University. 

  • 15 Jan 2024 1:14 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Jack Hamilton

    It’s awkward to write an article like this. I cringe when reading Ernest Hemmingway’s writing about writing, which he did often and irritatingly. As in: “When I had to write it, then it would be the only thing to do and there would be no choice.”

    I am an accidental professor. I acquired a doctorate (while I was a low-level political appointee in the State Department) to prepare to write a book. As far as other books go, one idea led to another. Sometimes the connection from one to the other was unexpected. I have just finished a short book on a cocktail, which to my surprise turned out to be the product of World War I propaganda, the subject of my previous book.

    At heart I am a journalist. I like to ask questions. I once wrote a book about books – Casanova Was a Book Lover – because I wondered why certain books are stolen from libraries and others (such as poetry) are not. 

    For what it is worth, I will offer three thoughts on lessons I have acquired. 

    1.  I have learned from working with co-authors. Some know a lot about theory, which I do not. Others have had specialties that help answer questions. I am thinking, for instance, of working with my LSU colleague Jinx Broussard on African-American foreign correspondents. One of my current collaborators, Heidi Tworek, has far ranging knowledge that enriches our collective work; she will be one of the giant media historians of her generation. 

    2.  Related to this, I have acquired respect for quantitative methods. I am not well schooled, but co-authors like my friend Regina Lawrence are. I remember a comment from Jorge Luis Borges. He said, as I recall, that he sometimes considered which language was the best to tell one of his short stories, French, English, or Spanish. The same may be said of methods. Which one gets the best answer? Often it is both. Unfortunately,  reviewers of scholarly publications often rule out methods that are not theirs. Quantitative scholars dislike qualitative research, and vice versa for historians. This is a loss to all fields.

    3.  Finally, I embrace the idea that Robert A. Caro articulated in the New Yorker. The title of his article tells it all, “Turn Every Page.”  It is a joy to work in archives but also tempting to go too fast through papers. I remind myself to slow down and be patient. I take as many photos of documents as possible. I’ve had many insights, sitting in my study, by looking at a letter or diary entry for the third or fourth time. “I am constantly being asked why it takes me so long to finish my books,” Caro wrote. “Well, it is the research that takes time.”

    I will close with a comment given by my agent years ago. I had received a very bad review. I called him.

    “Well,” I said, “anyway, I had a lot of sales last week.” 

    Peter replied, “Forget it, keep writing.” 

    How comforting to know there are so many questions out there for us to answer.

    John Maxwell Hamilton is the Hopkins P. Breazeale Foundation Professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University, and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

  • 15 Jan 2024 1:10 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you become involved in AJHA? 

    Doctors Vanessa Murphree and David R. Davies, AJHA members with whom I worked closely during my graduate studies at The University of Southern Mississippi, encouraged me to submit a paper to the 2014 national convention. My paper was accepted and I attended the convention in St. Paul. I had such an incredible experience at that convention that I became a member. I was awed to meet so many of the scholars whose work I cited in the paper or read in one of my media history courses - William David Sloan, John Coward, Tom Mascaro, Carolyn Kitch, and Mike Sweeney were just a few of the people who stood out - and humbled to learn that they were all amazingly kind people.   

    What part of historical research do you enjoy most? 

    For me, the most rewarding part of history is helping my students to discover a passion for the field. I am one of those AJHA members who does not teach a history course. However, I find ways to work historical inquiry into my courses and, more importantly, work with the University of West Florida's Office of Undergraduate Research to find young people I can either guide or, in some cases, employ as co-authors. To date, I have produced two peer-reviewed journal articles and a pair of AJHA Convention-accepted conference articles with undergraduate co-authors. 

    What scholarly work have you done outside of history? 

    I wrote a humble textbook in 2020 that has proven moderately popular with undergraduate students - it's a concise journey through writing for the communication professions - but my pride is the work I've done with the Department of State's International Visitors Leadership Program. Over the last half-decade, I have done presentations and workshops about modern journalism for media professionals and community leaders from such nations as Azerbaijan, Niger, Tajikistan, India, Vietnam, Latvia, and more. In a nod to AJHA, I always include a sizable historical section in these presentations. 

    What do you do in academia outside of your AJHA activity? 

    Perhaps I am odd, but I love the service element of our profession. I am most proud of my work as UWFs Faculty Athletics Representative - a role which allows me to represent UWF at the NCAA and Gulf South Conference levels, among numerous functions on campus - and my association with our campus Title IX office, but I have been thrilled to be allowed to work in numerous capacities on and off campus. 

    What hobbies/interests do you have outside of academia? 

    I don't know if parenting counts as a hobby, but my wife and I are raising two great little boys. The older, who is 5, attended an AJHA convention when he was about 90 days old back in 2018. When I am not working as either a faculty member or parent, I have a real passion for working out. Right now, I put in a solid five days per week at my local gym. 

  • 15 Jan 2024 1:00 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Erin Coyle

    I have encouraged students to engage in active learning to deepen their understanding of journalism, history, law, and ethics for more than a decade. I have followed examples set by two mentors who showed care for students when encouraging students to move beyond their comfort zones. Their examples inspire me to encourage students to engage with historical records, explore areas they might not have previously imagined, reflect upon what they have learned, and create high-quality work.

    During high school, I discovered that requiring students to learn by reading texts might not work for every student. At times, vertigo prevented me from reading. Some people suggested I should wait to be educated when my health was better. Instead, I requested audio recordings from The Tri-State Independent Blind Society. When assigned books, plays, or poems were not available in audio format, a retired English teacher provided other options. When it came time to read Shakespeare’s plays, she brought records from a local library so we could experience the plays together. I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the material, especially as I heard performances of plays and discussed what I heard with a person who showed she cared about my learning.

    When I was an undergraduate student studying journalism history at Emory University, Loren Ghiglione inquired about each student’s interests. He ensured our interests fit with the topic of our most substantial assignment. Each student was required to interview a Black journalist or leader from the Civil Rights Movement and write a book chapter about the person we interviewed. I interviewed and wrote about an octogenarian Black journalist who covered KKK rallies in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He recalled snapping photographs. After the camera flash alerted KKK members to his presence, he ran for his life. 

    Loren later drove my classmates and me from Atlanta, Georgia, to Angola Prison in Louisiana. Angola was the country’s largest maximum-security prison. Wilbert Rideau, a director of an award-winning documentary and editor of an award-winning prison publication, was our tour guide. Rideau became a journalist after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his original conviction in 1963. The Court held Rideau’s due process rights were denied in 1961 when he was not allowed to have his trial held outside the parish where a television station broadcast a sheriff’s interview of Rideau before his first trial. He subsequently was tried and convicted. He was still appealing his conviction while serving a life sentence when he showed my class around the prison. As we rode through the grounds, Black prisoners were working in fields under the watch of white guards, I felt as if I was traveling through time. 

    Those experiences shaped how I teach undergraduate and graduate-level journalism and mass communication courses . My journalism law, ethics, and history students have listened to the Journalism History podcast to learn historical context about journalism, the Civil Rights Movement, and threats to free expression rights. To help students gain greater understanding of research, I have shared some of the documents I have analyzed for my research on journalism history and free press and fair trial rights. Together, students and I have reviewed primary and secondary historical records during class meetings. We have analyzed and discussed news coverage of Rideau’s case, then we have reflected on the significance of the messages those reports convey. Such activities have fostered understanding of journalism history and culture while preparing students to complete research-based projects on topics they select. 

    Erin Coyle is an associate professor in journalism at the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication.

  • 12 Jan 2024 7:20 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)
    • The submission deadline for papers, panels, and research-in-progress proposals for this year’s Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference is Jan.19, 2024. The proposal call can be accessed here.

      The one-day, in-person conference is set for Friday, March 15, at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. The event is sponsored by AEJMC’s History Division and the American Journalism Historian’s Association.

      More details and registration information are available here.

      Direct questions to one of the conference co-chairs:

    • ·      Ray Begovich, University of Indianapolis,
    • ·      Theresa Russell-Loretz, Millersville University,
    • ·      Rob Wells, University of Maryland,

  • 11 Dec 2023 10:08 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Jon Marshall

    Thanks to the incredible generosity of AJHA members, we were able to raise more than $2,500 for graduate students at our auction during our Columbus conference.

    Let’s top that at our 2024 conference in Pittsburgh.

    To help make the auction an even bigger success, we’re forming a committee of volunteers. Committee members are needed who can help brainstorm ideas, promote the auction, load donated items onto the website, or help out at the conference. If you’re only able to assist with one of these things, that’s fine. If you’re able to assist with more than one, that’s even better.

    The time commitment will be light – no more than five to ten hours over the next year. It’s a great way to get involved in AJHA if you’re a new member or stay involved if you’re a not-so-new member. And yes, you can put it on your c.v.  

    All of the money raised by the auction will once again go to the Michael Sweeney Graduate Student Travel Stipend to help the new generation of journalism historians be able to afford to travel to our conferences.

    Are you able to help? Please let me know at by the end of January.

  • 04 Dec 2023 10:26 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you become involved in AJHA?

    I was delighted to be one of the first members of this organization.  I thought any group specifically dedicated to the study of journalism history would be a great asset to me as a junior faculty member attempting to gain tenure. The fact that it had a publication, American Journalism, made it particularly useful because it provided an additional venue for publication besides Journalism History. I thought the field needed them both so scholars would have sufficient exposure for their research to join tenured ranks.
    What do you see ahead for the field of journalism history?

    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.

    What should journalism historians do to preserve their field? 

    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.

    How do your research interests fit into this gloomy picture?

    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.  

    What hobbies/interests do I have outside of academia?

    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.

  • 04 Dec 2023 10:18 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    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. 

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

Copyright © 2022 AJHA ♦ All Rights Reserved
Contact AJHA via email

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software