Intelligencer

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.

  • 10 Jul 2019 5:40 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    The American Journalism Historians Association is seeking nominations for three board positions and the office of second vice president. 

    Board members serve for three years and are expected to attend board meetings at the annual convention. The 2nd VP, under normal circumstances, rises to the presidency in two years, then serves on the board for an additional two years.

    A nominee to the Board of Directors or to any of the other Officer positions must have been a member of the AJHA for at least one calendar year immediately preceding the date of the election. No more than one person from an institution can serve on the board at one time. 

    To make nominations and to vote in an election, an individual must be a member of AJHA. Those who wish to nominate candidates may do so by sending an email with the nominee's name, contact information and affiliation to election and nominations committee chair Nick Hirshon, nickhirshon@gmail.com.

    Please confirm the candidate's willingness to serve before sending the nomination to Nick, and if possible, you should send a brief bio of the candidate.

    Deadline for nominations is 5 p.m., Aug. 15. Nominations also may be made from the floor.
  • 10 Jul 2019 5:21 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    By Ross F. Collins, president, American Journalism Historians Association

    One of AJHA’s long-term goals from its founding in 1981 emphasizes raising awareness of journalism and mass media history as a significant and important field of research within the larger history discipline. In its efforts to showcase the work of American journalism history scholars, AJHA has I think raised scholarly awareness of media history, and certainly has raised the bar for high-quality research. But we are not alone in efforts to do that.

    In the last Intelligencer I introduced many of our members to work of our journalism history colleagues in France. Le Temps des Médias, the scholarly research journal of media historians writing in French, has appeared since 2003. According to Christian Delporte, its director, the journal’s founding rests on a goal similar to that of AJHA. In 2000, when the sponsoring Société pour l’histoire des médias (SPHM; Society for Media History) was founded, “the research area was still little recognized in the French academy,” says Delporte. “Even the expression ‘media history’ had not really acquired respectability.”

    Despite that, French scholars certainly had produced towering achievements in media history. The five-volume General History of the French Press from the 1970s is an immense reference far beyond anything ever produced for any other country’s journalism that I’m aware of. But since that time I thought media history research in France had seemed to lose some steam. In 1996 Jean-Noël Jeanneney published his one-volume A History of Media from Its Origins to Today. “We were familiar with historians of the press,” said Delporte. “We saw the appearance of historians of television, even of radio. By then the idea of a ‘historian of media’ was no longer surprising, and we were delighted.” But he and other French scholars deplored the absence of university structure or scholarly organization for media history study. “We never met without raising our incantation: ‘Something must be done!’”

    Jeanneney brought greater public awareness to French media history study as well-known Radio France director, politician, and from 2002 to 2007 president of the Bibliothèque Nationale (French National Library, equivalent of Library of Congress). In 2000 Delporte, along with prominent French media history scholars Gilles Feyel, Michael Palmer and Hélène Eck, met to formalize a plan. They proposed a group open to media history study of any aspect, economic, cultural, social or political, technical, industrial, and open to researchers of all disciplines, both French and international, who worked to advance interest in scholarship of mass media history. SPHM was born in 2000.

    Today, Delporte believes media history study has evolved. “It is no longer identified only as history of the press.” It has extended to questions of media culture and cultural exchange, has reached to studies of image and sound, and has led to exploitation of new archives. In sum, media history has moved to “the heart of the field of contemporary historical study.”

    But, Delporte admits, still, universities do not always recognize the vitality of what he calls a young discipline. He credits SPHM still for moving media history into the mainstream.

    I have been a member of SPHM since its inception, but I admit I’m still part of a small group of United States mass media scholars who are reaching out internationally. In fact, according to the SPHM directory, in this group we comprise three. One is Jeremy Popkin of the University in Kentucky, the monumental English-language scholar of French revolutionary-era journalism who was a founding member of SPHM. I like to keep good company.

    This group did not offer international research conventions until 2016—at which research papers in English were accepted. Despite a Ph.D. in French history, my ability to write French at a scholarly level is pathetic, so I jumped on the opportunity to present in English. The June conference in a Paris suburb turned out to be a delightful occasion to meet with media history scholars from around Europe, and to see how media history has grown from mostly a topic of interest to U.S. scholars to one of general appeal throughout Western culture and beyond. SPHM is on the verge of publishing a book based on this conference, Penser l’histoire des medias (Thinking of Media History, CNRS Editions), in which I have a modest contribution.

    Next year SPHM will be meeting in Switzerland. And in case you’re wondering—most of these international scholars can speak English. As unfair as that is, the language of global scholarship has become that annoying Anglo-Saxon tongue.

    In welcoming English-language presentations and meeting outside of France SPHM is trying to internationalize its reach, just as AJHA is making efforts to build interest in transnational journalism and international research. We have a lot in common, our efforts to build media history into a central and important historical discipline. You can check out SPHM (English language version available) at http://www.histoiredesmedias.com.

  • 10 Jul 2019 5:09 PM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    Arceneaux continues as interim director at SDSU

    Noah Arceneaux continues as the interim director for the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

    The university will be conducting a national search for a new director, looking for someone to take over the helm of this ACEJMC-accredited program. An official job posting will appear in the early fall semester.

    Hirshon recognized by SPJ for work on campus

    Dr. Nicholas Hirshon, assistant professor of communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, received the Society of Professional Journalists' inaugural New Jersey Journalism Educator of the Year Award at a ceremony in June.

    The judges cited Hirshon creating an SPJ chapter on his campus, leading a walking tour of historic journalism sites in Philadelphia with his students during a regional SPJ conference last year, and demonstrating "tireless work" to establishing the New Jersey Journalism Hall of Fame at William Paterson.

    Shemberger elected faculty regent on university board

    Dr. Melony Shemberger, associate professor of journalism and mass communications at Murray State University, was elected to represent the faculty on the university's board of regents.

    Shemberger officially began her three-year term on July 1. She defeated four other candidates, including the incumbent.

    A former vice president of Murray State's Faculty Senate, Shemberger will be sworn into office in August.

  • 06 Jun 2019 12:15 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 position begins January 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 paulette.kilmer@utoledo.edu.

  • 06 May 2019 11:59 AM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

    Ana Stevenson is the recipient of the 35th Annual Covert Award 

    The 35th annual Covert Award in Mass Communication History has been won by Ana Stevenson, a postdoctoral research fellow in the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Stevenson won for “Imagining Women’s Suffrage: Frontier Landscapes and the Transnational Print Culture of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States,” Pacific Historical Review, 87, no. 4 (2018): 638–666. 

    Stevenson’s article was selected from 18 articles nominated. Her work joins a growing body of literature in both mass communication and history that examines cultural dissemination across national borders; it was impressive to see work that drew from suffrage print cultures of three different countries. Stevenson showed how constructed language advocating for women's suffrage, in particular rhetoric that made ties to geography, the frontier, and settler narratives, was exchanged via transnational connections. Her reporting out of the archives was persuasive, as was her attention to how these narratives advantaged women of European heritage and excluded indigenous peoples.

    The award was endowed by the late Catherine Covert, a professor of public communications at Syracuse University and former head of the AEJMC History Division. It goes to the article or chapter in an edited collection that represents the year's best essay in mass communication history.   

    The Covert Committee includes some longtime members, the current and past heads of the History Division, and previous winners of the award. Committee members this year were Erika Pribanic-Smith, University of Texas at Arlington; Douglas O. Cumming, Washington and Lee University; Richard B. Kielbowicz, University of Washington; Nancy Roberts, State University of New York at Albany; and Sheila Webb, Committee Chair, Western Washington University. 

    The History Division will present the $500 award to Stevenson at the award celebration at the annual AEJMC convention in Toronto, Aug. 7, 2019. 

  • 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: https://www.routledge.com/A-Short-History-of-Disruptive-Journalism-Technologies-1850-to-2000/Mari/p/book/9780815367918

    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: https://www.routledge.com/Emma-Goldmans-No-Conscription-League-and-the-First-Amendment-1st-Edition/Pribanic-Smith-Schroeder/p/book/9781138493476


    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 paulette.kilmer@utoledo.edu.

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