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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  • 21 Jan 2017 9:26 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    From Webmaster Erika Pribanic-Smith and

    History in the Curriculum Chair Gerry Lanosga:

    The Faculty Job Board is a new feature on our AJHA website where members can post faculty positions available at their institutions. The page is set up as a forum (message board), which job-seeking members can follow to receive notifications of new postings via email. To access the job board, visit (member login required).

  • 21 Jan 2017 9:23 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    The $500 award will be presented to the author of the best mass communication history article or essay published in 2016. Book chapters in edited collections also may be nominated.

    The award was endowed by the late Catherine L. Covert, professor of public communications at Syracuse University and former head of the History Division. Last year’s Covert Award was won by Richard Kielbowicz  for his article “Regulating Timeliness: Technologies, Laws, and the News, 1840-1970,” published in Journalism & Communication Monographs, vol. 17 (Spring 2015).

    Nominations, including  six  paper copies of the article nominated, should be sent by March 1 to Professor Nancy L. Roberts, Communication Department, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., SS-351, Albany, NY 12222.

  • 21 Jan 2017 9:16 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)
    Transnational Journalism History

    Deadline:  February 1, 2017 

    The second annual conference on Transnational Journalism History is seeking papers that deal with any aspect of the history of journalism and mass communications that transcends national borders.

    This year’s conference will be June 9-10 in Dublin, Ireland. Keynote speaker  will be Marcel Broersma of the University of Groningen. 

    The conference is sponsored jointly by the journalism and mass communication programs at Dublin City University and Augusta University.

    Conference planners anticipate at least one book to result from the 2016 inaugural conference and the 2017 conference. Abstracts of 250 words (for research-in-progress) or full papers (for completed projects) should be submitted to Debbie van Tuyll ( by February 1, 2017. Submissions will be blind reviewed.

    Any questions may be addressed to Debbie van Tuyll or Mark O’Brien (

  • 21 Jan 2017 8:54 PM | Dane Claussen (Administrator)

    We Can Help Protect the First Amendment

    By Dave Vergobbi

    “Democracy depends upon journalism.”

    -- The Society of Professional Journalists.

    I’m betting many of you had a unique fall semester in 2016. Mine was. It actually began December 15, 2015, when Donald J. Trump stated at a Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, “We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some way. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.” I was alarmed that a presidential candidate would make such a statement, but I dismissed it. I knew Trump couldn’t actually win.

    Then on February 26, 2016, perfectly complementing my media law class engagement with the hard-won New York Times v. Sullivan’s actual malice standard that put libel law on a First Amendment basis and finally eradicated seditious libel—guaranteeing our right to criticize our government and its officials—Trump said at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.” I was alarmed that a presidential candidate would make such a statement, but I dismissed it. I knew Trump couldn’t actually win.

    As the campaign proceeded, Trump blacklisted reporters and media that challenged him; actually confined journalists to fenced areas at his rallies, the better to berate and encourage attendees to jeer the reporters; refused to hold press conferences; consistently tagged legitimate news media as liars; and outmaneuvered journalists to keep them from reporting on his post-election meetings. For my two media law sections and my freedom of expression class in fall 2016, student questions and concern culminated on November 29, 2016, when Trump tweeted, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail.” I was alarmed that a presidential candidate would make such a statement, but now I could not dismiss it. Candidate Trump was now president-elect Trump.

    My alarm is not alone. Thomas Burr, 109th president of the National Press Club, wrote on November 20, 2016, in The Salt Lake Tribune that “[m]ore than 20 press freedom groups—like the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of News Editors, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists—signed on” to Burr’s unprecedented “open letter to President-elect Trump, imploring him to stand by the traditions of a protected press pool and to set an example for the other countries in freedom of the press.” Meanwhile, asked in its December 15, 2016, email, “Who will protect the First Amendment?”

    We can. At least, we can help. As journalism historians and educators we can put in perspective President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-First Amendment, anti-democratic positions. We can fight constitutional ignorance through our instruction, our research, our professional ties, and our public outreach. I learned in my law and freedom of expression classes this fall 2016 of the great unease and conflict students increasingly felt, even in this highly conservative state of Utah, toward Trump’s rights-negating positions. They kept asking me: “Doesn’t he know he’s violating the content neutrality principle, the emotion principle, and the reactive harm principle of First Amendment law, that offense alone is not enough to abridge or punish speech?” “Doesn’t he know that the actual malice standard exists for public officials and figures, that it must be proven, and why it’s essential for democracy?” “Doesn’t he know that the Brandenburg v. Ohio incitement standard means you have to actually evidence intent, imminence, likelihood and unlawful activity to prove actual physical or relational harm?” “Doesn’t he know the First Amendment protects symbolic speech, not just words written or spoken, and that, like it or not, flag burning is the ultimate expression of our constitutional right?” “Doesn’t he know that the First Amendment specifically mentions only one profession—the ‘press’—and why that is?” “Doesn’t he know that without the First Amendment the other nine Bill of Rights amendments are operationally invalid, because we’d have no recourse if those rights are violated?” “Doesn’t he understand democracy?” 

    I don’t know what Donald J. Trump knows, or willfully ignores. What I do know is that AJHA members have and can answer—via their teaching, research and professional or public engagement—the who, what, why, when, where and how of these questions. I see an important AJHA goal to not only educate our students, but also our fellow citizens, and perhaps especially those people in decision-making, influence peddling, and enforcement positions in our local, state and federal governments, including President Trump. We can help protect the First Amendment, and must, for “democracy depends upon journalism.” Cry out for me Idealism—a daunting, but worthy, task.

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