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Ybor City, by Patrick Cox
Michael Murray, right, interviewed Sidney Kobre about his AJHA award at St. Louis NPR affiliate KWMU during the 1986 convention. They discussed the impact of Kobre’s work and the influence of Joseph Pulitzer in the Midwest and nationally. (Credit: University of Missouri)
AJHA’s fifth annual convention was pivotal for the young organization. Preeminent scholars Walter Ong and James Carey delivered speeches, the women’s luncheon became institutionalized, and the organization presented the first distinguished service award to its eventual namesake, Sidney Kobre.
Maurine Beasley, who served on the Board of Directors at the time, remarked on the outstanding intellectual content of the 1986 St. Louis convention.
“It marked AJHA really coming of age in the academy by drawing in leading figures as speakers and inspirations to all of us,” Beasley said.
Michael Murray was president of AJHA in 1986 and chief organizer of the St. Louis convention. Murray cited Ong as a major influence during his undergraduate and master’s programs at St. Louis University, and he thought members would enjoy hearing Ong speak. Then-board member John Pauly had been Carey’s student at the University of Illinois and suggested inviting him.
Murray transported Ong to the Clarion Hotel, where the conference took place.
“Once we got to the hotel, it appeared that everyone attending the meeting was right there in that conference room, packed to the rafters,” Murray said.
Beasley said that the two speakers were part of AJHA’s drive to bring fresh ideas into journalism history.
“It was an extremely scholarly speech—mind expanding and provocative, moving us beyond the usual consideration of the roles played by outstanding figures in journalism history,” Beasley said of Ong’s address.
Alf Pratte summarized Carey’s talk in the Winter 1986/87 Intelligencer. Carey told the group that modern journalism disrupts collective memory by stressing speed over meaning and called upon journalists to encourage oral culture in everyday communities.
Convention attendees also heard from James Lawrence, long-time editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Murray initially invited Joseph Pulitzer Jr., but Pulitzer suggested Lawrence could provide better insights on local journalism history. Lawrence began working for Pulitzer Publishing in 1938 under Pulitzer’s father, Joseph Pulitzer II.
Another highlight of the convention was the presentation of the first distinguished service award at the Old Courthouse—site of the Dred Scott trials. AJHA co-founder David Sloan suggested presenting the new award to Kobre because of his impressive scholarly resumé in history and commitment to AJHA since its beginnings.
Startt, a board member at the time, said that Kobre probably did more to establish the field than any other scholar. He also recalled Kobre engaging AJHA members in many “lively corridor discussions.”
“There was so much to learn from him, for he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the press,” Startt said.
Upon receiving the award, Kobre delivered remarks drawing parallels between the journalist and historian. According to an article in the Winter 1986/87 Intelligencer, Kobre also discussed the benefits of studying media history and emphasized the importance of AJHA to create a network among journalism historians.
In the early days of the organization, AJHA provided a venue specifically for women historians to network. The Women’s Lunch—the precursor of the Donna Allen Luncheon—first appeared on the program as an official event in 1986. Beasley said that Barbara Cloud, AJHA president in 1984-85, began the lunch because the men typically went off by themselves to have meals at conventions and did not invite the women. Beasley noted that the men resented the formal listing of a luncheon for women, so the Donna Allen Lunch eventually was open to all convention attendees.
Paulette Kilmer counts the Women’s Lunch among her favorite memories from her first AJHA convention—in 1986. She met Beasley as she was heading out for the luncheon and tagged along.
“I recall that moment because it changed my life as a scholar and probably as a person,” Kilmer said. “I can’t remember who was there very clearly, but I can still hear the laughter, feel the goodwill, and appreciate the practical advice from those who already had run the doctoral gauntlet.”
Carol Sue Humphrey also attended her first AJHA convention in 1986, and she said her fantastic experience there was why she fell in love with the organization. She said she enjoyed the combination of research and a field trip—the group visited the St. Louis Arch.
By Teri Finneman
Oral History Committee Chairwoman
We continue our series examining members’ oral history projects with this feature from Nicholas Hirshon, an assistant professor in the Communication Department at William Paterson University. A former reporter for the New York Daily News, Hirshon has written two books of sports history, Images of America: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (2010), about the former arena of the NHL’s New York Islanders, and Images of America: Forest Hills (2013), about the neighborhood that long hosted the U.S. Open. His email is email@example.com.
This irks me as a historian. I have devoted much of my research to shedding light on the rich past of my hometown, where few scholars tread. And I could not do it without oral history.
At the annual AJHA conference in October, I presented a research-in-progress on a sports television program with a Forest Hills connection. I grew interested in the topic several years ago when I was working as a newspaper reporter and covered the closing of a bowling alley near my boyhood home. I learned that the alley had hosted a short-lived NBC game show named Phillies Jackpot Bowling in 1959 and 1960. The program had a pioneering format in which professional bowlers competed for tens of thousands of dollars by attempting to bowl six consecutive strikes in nine tries. Phillies Jackpot Bowling was instrumental in raising interest in bowling across the United States and precipitating an era when top bowlers earned more than many baseball and football stars, a dynamic that is unthinkable in the modern sports landscape.
After I transitioned from practicing journalism to teaching and researching it, I wanted to examine the history of Phillies Jackpot Bowling. The problem was the lack of sources. No clips from the show seem to have made their way online, and only one episode has survived, available only for on-site viewing at an archive in California, thousands of miles away. None of the people involved in the show left an archive. Reports in newspapers and magazines offer an incomplete picture of events.
Oral history proved fruitful to fill in the gap on previous projects. But Phillies Jackpot Bowling went off the air more than half a century ago. I figured everyone involved in the show had died long ago. Not true. To my surprise, I was able to track down and interview four bowlers who appeared on the show. Their vivid memories of the program provided much-needed color and made possible my tribute to my hometown’s history.
Today the bowling alley is no more. The alley was renovated into a furniture store when I was still a reporter, and I wrote articles advocating for a historical marker nearby. The owner agreed and put up two plaques, one on the façade and another inside with a display of bowling memorabilia.
Now it’s up to me – and oral history – to put the plaque in context.
Do you have an oral history project you would like featured in the newsletter? Email Teri Finneman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volume 3, Issue 1 of Historiography in Mass Communication was posted at http://history-jmc.com/Home.html in early January.
The Table of Contents is:
Michael D. Murray, “Characters I Have Known: Reflections from CBS News (and the AJHA)”
Historical Roundtable: Studying the Colonial Press
David Copeland, Roger Mellen, David Sloan, and Julie Hedgepeth Williams
Kobre Award Interview: Mike Sweeney
Book Award Interview: Peter Hartshorn
(Editor’s Note: Prof. Candi Carter Olson presented her paper, “Because of the places she had to go: Changing women’s roles through the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh,” at the 2016 AJHA Convention in St. Petersburg. The Intelligencer asked Prof. Olson how she started researching the Press Club, what her research means and why it’s important.)
By Candi Carter Olson
Utah State University
Like most journalism historians, I’m regularly asked to tell people why they should care about my topic, which is women’s press clubs and their members. After all, women’s press clubs seem like something that should be relegated to the past, even though some still exist. Women’s press clubs sprang up in the late nineteenth century in response to a growing need for professionalized women to organize in a way that they could educate other women and promote women’s literary accomplishments.
Many of women’s press clubs lasted only a few decades, and those that made it to the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s integrated men into their membership in response to changing societal norms. For example, the Women’s National Press Club voted to allow men in membership in 1970 and changed its name to the Washington Press Club.
While women’s press clubs were at their height, we newswomen seemingly made a lot of progress. Due to a number of factors, there was a drastic increase in women on news staffs throughout the United States during the early-to-mid twentieth century. Even though most newswomen reported for women’s and society pages, many also took on formerly masculine-bastion roles as war reporters, political reporters, and leaders across the newsroom. The changes seemed so large that the women’s movement’s push to drop women’s and society’s pages in the 1970s seemed logical: Women were conquering newsrooms. Their stories needed to be seen in all sections of the newspaper as well.
Statistics show us that after the 1970s, women’s progress into newsrooms stagnated. This happened for various reasons, although my interest, obviously, is in whether the drop in newswomen’s organizations affected these numbers.
The 2015 Status of Women in the U.S. Media report drives this point home: Today, women produce only 37 percent of the bylines in newspapers, and they’re only 32 percent of the on-air faces that we see on our nightly news. Wires and internet news sources have the best representation, with 38 percent of wire bylines and 42 percent of digital news being produced by newswomen. This, by the way, was the first year in several that this survey found an increase in women’s representation. The percentage of women in supervisory positions in newsrooms is no better. A 2016 American Society of Newspaper Editors Diversity survey found just 37 percent of supervisory positions were occupied by women.
By researching women’s press clubs, I am finding stories and strategies of newswomen that made a difference in women’s stories becoming a mainstream part of the news industry and in women’s faces becoming more common across the newsroom.
The Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh, whose earliest years I presented at AJHA in October, is the second oldest women’s press club extant in the United States. It was organized by seven so-called newshens in 1891 ostensibly for “friendly intercourse and the advancement of women’s interests in journalism.” Throughout its 125 years, the group has strategically used its organization to grow numbers of women journalists.
One of my favorite stories from this club’s first decade involves the club getting around male newsroom leaders by inviting in their wives, training them to be writers, then deploying them to become professional writers themselves. Because they were married to the editors, these women also had the ear of the person in charge of hiring and used it to get women reporting jobs. Janey Coard Smith, who at 15 was the youngest charter member, recalled,
"Several of the papers did not at that time approve of women writers on the staff, so we cunningly conceived of inviting into the fold, as associate members, wives of outstanding editors. Many of these were marvelous women in more ways than one, and ere long every paper had two or three women in editorial rooms. Those associate members were very helpful, inspiring, several of them later developing into writers."
Through organizing, the WPCP found strength in numbers.
The group also used stereotypical ideas of feminine behavior—such as the image of the perfect hostess and homemaker—to reassure the public that newswomen were not challenging men’s roles. They held an annual banquet, where they showed off their performance skills through music and plays they wrote themselves, and hosted the public to the height of the time’s fashion.
The 1895 banquet excluded men; however, Pittsburg Times Managing Editor Morgan E. Gable sent a congratulatory note to the women’s press club on the event. This letter sums up the importance of women’s press club in advancing the cause of newswomen in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries:
"Though you have not sent me an invitation to your banquet, you will find that the Times will tomorrow say editorially that the time is not long past when a woman in a newspaper office was a curiosity. …They crowded out no man. They have made a distinct field of usefulness for themselves, which grows steadily as time rolls on. That is to say, they have come to stay."
(Editor’s Note: Cayce Myers, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech, presented his research-in-progress, “Managing the ‘Prophecy of Wilson’: Carey T. Grayson’s Role in Crafting the Public Image and Memory of Woodrow Wilson, 1919-1921,” at the 2016 AJHA Convention. The Intelligencer asked him to tell us more about how he came to do this research, what it means, and why it’s important.)
Grayson is standing on the stop of the caboose of the train above Wilson. Photograph courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, VA
By Cayce Myers
Carey T. Grayson was more than a White House physician for Woodrow Wilson. He was the president’s confidante, friend, and, at times, the public face of the White House. Working so closely with the president Grayson was witness to the most significant events of Wilson’s presidency: the Paris peace talks after World War I, the Western tour promoting the League of Nations, and Wilson’s stoke and subsequent convalescence during the latter years of his presidency. In fact, it was during Wilson’s stroke and recovery that Grayson’s role was the most significant. Working with Edith Wilson, the president’s second wife, Grayson not only provided Wilson medical care, but also communicated with the public providing information about the president’s condition. Fiercely loyal to President Wilson, Grayson’s public communications provide unique insight into how the White House handled the crisis of Wilson’s health, and, in turn, began crafting a historical narrative of his presidency.
I first learned of Carey Grayson while researching the archives at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Va., on a Niles research grant awarded by Virginia Tech. I was initially interested in how Wilson’s staff, notably his private secretary Joseph Tumulty, dealt with the press during Wilson’s stroke and recovery in 1919 to 1921. However, as in doing all archival research, I found something unexpected along the way. Talking to the archivist at Wilson Presidential Library, I found that one of the most interesting figures in Wilson’s health crisis was his personal doctor Carey T. Grayson.
Grayson’s papers are located at the Wilson Presidential Library, but they were privately held for years. A real admiral in the U.S. Navy and later chairman of the Red Cross, Grayson led a remarkable life that intersected with many luminary figures of the first half of the twentieth century. Fortunate for historians he was a saver of correspondence and a writer of numerous letters and diary entries. What was most interesting in Grayson’s papers was his correspondence to the public concerning Wilson’s health. After Wilson’s stroke in 1919 the president received many letters from well wishers who suggested a variety of remedies for his illness. Grayson responded to many of these people, and attempted to cast the president’s condition in the best light possible. At the end of Wilson’s presidency Grayson also played a role in crafting the remembrance of Wilson. His correspondence with Wilson biographer Ray Stannard Baker shows that Grayson recognized the power of history and memory.
This work is part of a long-term project I have worked on that examines early uses of public relations and image management. Many early U.S. histories of public relations do not include the contributions of figures like Grayson who found himself in the unique and unanticipated position of handling press and image management issues. Examining the work of Grayson shows the unique and organic way public relations, press relations, and image management developed in the U.S. in the early twentieth century.
(Editor’s Note: Prof. Pete Smith presented his paper, “‘A Lady of Many Firsts’: Press Coverage of the Political Career of Mississippi’s Evelyn Gandy, 1948-83,” at the October 2016 AJHA Convention in St. Petersburg. The Intelligencer asked Smith to tell us more about how he got interested in Gandy, what his research about her means, and why it’s important.)
By Pete Smith, Mississippi State University
I recently found myself in a spur-of-the-moment conversation with a couple of friends about the recent presidential election. I listened carefully as they presented their cases—including the idea that Clinton, against campaign advice, did not show enough emotion in her public appearances. As I quickly pointed out, Clinton has been dogged by a cruel double standard: show even a tiny bit of emotional vulnerability and be perceived as weak, portray a more serious tone (as her male counterparts have and do), and be criticized as being cold and unapproachable.
In fact, the academic literature in this area reveals that men are often framed according to the political issues they champion, while women politicians are judged on their images—their marital statuses, physical appearances, or specific personality or emotional traits.(1) However, this research, while focusing on women of national reputation, mentions very little about women politicians of state and local importance.
In an attempt to fill this gap in the scholarly literature, I spent my 2016 spring sabbatical examining, among other projects, the press coverage of Mississippi’s Edythe Evelyn Gandy (1920-2007), whose tenure in state politics stretched over three decades. After being elected to a term in the Mississippi House of Representatives (1948-52), Gandy served as a state assistant attorney general in 1959, two terms as state treasurer (1960-64, 1968-72), state commissioner of public welfare (1964-67), and commissioner of insurance (1972-76). Her political career hit its peak when she was elected lieutenant governor (1976-80), an office she held before making two unsuccessful bids for the state’s highest office in 1979 and again in 1983.
I didn't remember the details of Gandy’s career, but I have flashbulb memories of seeing TV interviews and political ads about her statewide campaigns. Those scant memories had real staying power, in any case; three decades later, I set out, using some forty scrapbooks from the Evelyn Gandy Papers (located in the McCain Library & Archives at the University of Southern Mississippi), to investigate how Mississippi’s local newspapers, the AP and UPI wire services, and several regional publications (e.g. the New Orleans Times-Picayune) portrayed Gandy’s image over a 35-year period.
I brought home some 2,000 photocopied pages for analysis, including countless news articles and editorials, political cartoons and photographs, and discovered three significant press frames: First, a “first” frame, which presents women’s political contributions as a novelty; Second, frames emphasizing stereotypical, feminine characteristics, whether that be Gandy’s physical appearance (e.g. her height, weight, dress, or her facial features), her manner of speaking (e.g. being “soft-spoken”), or the titles assigned to her (e.g. “lady”); and, Third, an “iron magnolia” frame, which creates the perception that the woman candidate is either too feminine or too masculine.
The “first” frame, as I call it, was the most persistent of Gandy’s career, beginning with her election as assistant attorney general: “Assistant Attorney General to Be Woman for First Time,” read the awkward headline from a January 1959 issue of the Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal, as the paper’s male editors attempted to describe something outside of their sense of “normal.”(2) As the press struggled to define Gandy’s success as an elected official, it consistently framed her in the most feminine, and patronizing, of terms: “The attractive Forrest County native appeared in a black dress,” a May 1963 UPI photo cutline noted in reference to Gandy’s appearance during her swearing in ceremony as state welfare commissioner.(3)
Whether referencing her wardrobe or the way she carried herself in public—her “always eloquent style,” as one journalist observed—news coverage of Gandy consistently made the point that she was, above all else, a proper southern lady.(4) For instance, a UPI report published shortly after her 1960 election as state treasurer made reference to Gandy’s “ladylike answer” when she refused to reveal her age.(5) In fact, the moniker of “lady” was perhaps the most consistent of feminine labels used to define Gandy’s image—as a September 1978 headline from the Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal (published during Gandy’s first gubernatorial campaign) confirms: “The Lady of Jackson and Her Smile.”(6)
Building upon the perception of Gandy as a “gentle lady”—as longtime political columnist W.F. “Bill” Minor referred to her in August 1978—the press used an “iron magnolia” frame to describe her image during the final stages of her political career.(7) In particular, this frame made note of Gandy as a “tough” political opponent, but continued to over-emphasize the same traditional feminine characteristics that defined her as a conventional southern woman. “With a new wardrobe, a new hairdo and a firm handshake,” Jack Elliott of the Jackson (Miss.) Daily News said in a March 1983 editorial, “Evelyn Gandy is on the [campaign] road again.”(8)
In Gandy case, these three press frames were part of the hegemonic process that took into account Mississippi’s history, its culture, and the local and regional press as contributors to the state’s lack of progress. In a broader sense, the results of this analysis (which is forthcoming in a future issue of American Journalism) reveal the value of media history in understanding recent political circumstances—including the idea that powerful women like Hillary Clinton must navigate a much more difficult set of cultural standards if they are to win the day.
1. See, for example, Diana B. Carlin and Kelly L. Winfrey, “Have You Come a Long Way, Baby? Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Sexism in 2008 Campaign Coverage,” Communication Studies 60, no. 4 (September-October 2009): 326-43; Yasmine Dabbous and Amy Ladley, “A Spine of Steel and a Heart of Gold: Newspaper Coverage of the First Female Speaker of the House,” Journal of Gender Studies 19, no. 2 (June 2010): 181-94; and Karrin Vasby Anderson, “‘Rhymes with Blunt’: “Pornification and U.S. Political Culture,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14, no. 2 (2011): 327-68.
2. “Assistant Attorney General to be Woman for First Time,” Memphis (TN) Commercial Appeal, 2 January 1959, Edythe Gandy Papers (hereafter abbreviated as “Gandy Paper”), Box 1, Scrapbook 1, University of Southern Mississippi, McCain Library & Archives, Hattiesburg, MS.
3. “Miss Gandy Takes Welfare Office Post,” Mobile (AL) Register, 19 May 1963. Gandy Papers, Box 4, Scrapbook 1.
4. Phil Mullen, “Pisgah Folks Enjoy PTA Banquet, Miss Gandy Gives Inspiring Talk,” Madison County (MS) Herald, no date. Gandy Papers, Box 3, Scrapbook 1.
5. “Woman Treasurer Prepares to Take on Man-Sized Job,” Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger, 22 September 1959. Gandy Papers, Box 1, Scrapbook 1.
6. James Young, “‘The Lady’ of Jackson and Her Smile,” Memphis (TN) Commercial Appeal, 10 September 1978, Gandy Papers, Box 32, Scrapbook 1.
7. Wilson F. Minor, “Eyes on Mississippi: Gandy on the Spot Over Ousting Burgin,” Jackson (MS) Reporter, 3 August 1978, Gandy Papers, Box 31, Scrapbook 1.
8. Jack Elliott, “Evelyn Gandy’s Just Itching to Show Off Her New Running Shoes,” Jackson (MS) Daily News, 6 March 1983, Gandy Papers, Box 40, Scrapbook 1.
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