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.

  • 17 Apr 2023 12:29 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    Adapted from the preface to UNDAUNTED: How Women Changed American Journalism. To be published by A.A. Knopf in May. Copyright 2023 by Brooke Kroeger.

    By Brooke Kroeger

    Undaunted makes no claim to being all-inclusive. Rather, it seeks to share in a representative way how women have fared in American journalism, a profession that men have dominated in the 180 years since mass media began.

    To arrive at the best way to tell the story, I began with two search terms, “women” and “journalism,” applied together, decade by decade, to every relevant database from 1840 to the present. The approach was hardly scientific but provided consistency. It also gave me a good sense of the conditions that governed the presence and place of women as journalists, the ideas about them that prevailed in each period, and how those ideas changed, or did not change, over time. It became possible to identify the individuals whose achievements received the most attention. I considered how and why some women attracted publicity and if and how their stories fit into the wider context of women’s advancement. Then came the winnowing.

    The telling is chronological. It gives precedence to the episodes that dealt with or dovetailed with the most significant news events and trends of each period. That meant leaving out many stories and people I would have liked to include.

    Twelve questions guided me. Which stories best illustrated what women were up against in their professional lives? How or why did the most successful women first get in the door? Who were the true trailblazers and pioneers? Assuming talent and hard work, how much did background, privilege, strategy, charisma, style, looks, advocacy, or luck figure in their ascent? How well did women manage their successes and failures, their celebrity and censure? Were they “womanly” or “manly” in their reporting and writing or in their editorial vision? What impact did they have on the nation’s news diet and on the profession? Whom among women has the wider journalism community chosen to honor? Which qualities and characteristics fairly or unfairly attributed to women brought condemnation? Which brought respect? How did newsroom politics figure? Have women made a difference?

    I could not resist including some related anecdotes that were too good to omit, but in the interest of a reasonable page count I removed many names, including bylines that deserved to be in the text. If readers find themselves asking, “But what about ____?” the notes section contains many of those answers.

    I found value in tracing the way some outstanding careers were built over decades and endeavored to fairly praise men who gave deserving women an opportunity when it was not fashionable or usual to do so. Some of them might well have met a #MeToo-like fate had such a movement existed in their day. Others, because of the timing, did. The epilogue briefly details the social and cultural currents roiling in the early 2020s as my work on this book came to an end. It surprised me that the intertwining of gender and race would be such an unbroken through line and that the industry’s economic crises and manpower shortages at various points have proved as effective as, if not more effective than, changes in the law for creating opportunity for woman journalists, especially in the most coveted jobs.

    In trying to understand the chances women seized on and the impediments they overcame, I have at times used a twenty-first-century lens to reflect on attitudes, impressions, and policies that stood unquestioned in their own day. Although the all-too-recurring theme right up to the present is progress followed by setback, it does make the triumphs seem all the sweeter.

    In writing the biographies of Nellie Bly and Fannie Hurst and the history of undercover reporting, I engaged with many of the memoirs, biographies, archives, articles, oral histories, and studies [so many the work of AJHA stalwarts] that anchor this book. (Bly lived from 1864 to 1922; Hurst, from 1885 to 1968.) Journalism has been the world I’ve lived in, worked in, studied, written about, and taught for more than fifty years. Yet only for Undaunted did I find myself considering the place of journalism’s most successful women as one long continuum. I hope that comes through in the pages that follow.

    Against daunting odds, women have always found chairs at the most important tables of this vital profession, seats that often proved hard to keep. Very few of the woman journalists in these pages, alas, have legacies that endured or will endure much beyond their own moment. This is as expected. It is worth pointing out that this is just as true for a great proportion of the profession’s outstanding men.

    The stories of the remarkable women included here provide a trove of still-sound career advice and some cautionary tales. Beyond that, we know now that it takes an ample mix of ages, races, genders, ethnicities, and political and cultural views to do American journalism’s essential tasks most effectively. We also know that journalism’s propensity to exclude—addressed repeatedly over the years, but never vanquished—has made us all the poorer. Within that context, our primary focus here is the impact women have had on journalism and journalism’s impact on them.

    See a trailer for Undaunted here

    Brooke Kroeger is journalist, professor emerita at NYU, and the author of six books. Undaunted will be available May 16, 2023. 

  • 17 Apr 2023 9:15 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Mike Conway

    I had the privilege earlier this year to help judge the applications for the American Journalism/Journalism History microgrant competition.  The six winners of the microgrants definitely are pursuing important media history projects. But what struck me was just how interesting all of the projects were.  I wish we had money to help all these scholars get their ideas off the ground.

    That got me thinking about how many of us have media history projects buried in files somewhere on our computer, or maybe even in old-school manila folders, just waiting for the time, money, and/or energy to get them started or move them along.

    Could I suggest June 1, 2023 as a possible deadline for you to bring one of your projects across the finish line? That is the research deadline for the AJHA Annual Conference, which will be held in Columbus, Ohio September 28-30, 2023. You can start to pull together your notes over the next few weeks and when your semester is over and grades are posted, you can dig in.

    J. JesseeScioto Mile aerial from north, CC BY-SA 2.0

    Maybe you have a media history research project that was unfairly maligned by Reviewer 2 for another conference. Track down those painful reviews and see if any of the changes would make it a stronger project. I’m not too proud to admit that over the years, I’ve used the late spring AJHA deadline to give papers rejected from other conferences another chance.

    If you don’t think you can get a full paper completed, you could also consider entering our Research in Progress (RIP) section.  Another idea is to come up with an important topic in media history research, find some experts in that area, and submit a panel proposal. 

    It’s no secret that research paper submissions have been down across the academy for the past few years because of pandemic fatigue and heavy non-research workloads. On the bright side, after two years of virtual conferences, attendance at last year’s AJHA conference in Memphis was right at the same level as our pre-pandemic conferences. So we definitely all want to be back together and celebrate strong media history scholarship.  Let’s make this be the year that you get your research back on the conference agenda.

    If you know other scholars that work in media history, please let them know about our conference. We always want to remind historians that even though we have American in our title, we encourage research from around the world, and even though we have Journalism in our name, we welcome historical scholarship from a wide range of media sources. 

    If you need a few more enticements for putting the June 1 deadline on your calendar, I can tell you that Caryl Cooper, LoWanda James and local hosts Felecia Ross and Aimee Edmondson are hard at work on creating a memorable experience while we’re in Columbus. They will be telling us more in the next few months, but they have great ideas for our historic tour, Gala dinner, and honoring local journalists. It’s been decades since I visited the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus occasionally when I was a reporter over in Dayton, so I’m excited to see the city again.

    Take a few moments and see if you’ve got an idea or a set of documents that would make an interesting research project for our conference. We’d love to see you in Columbus.

    Mike Conway is currently serving as President of AJHA. He is also Director of the Indiana Broadcast History Archive (IBHA) and a Professor of Journalism at 
    Indiana University Media School. 

  • 17 Mar 2023 10:41 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Ralph Engelman 

    A Century of Repression: The Espionage Act and Freedom of the Press (U. of Illinois Press, 2022) represents a kind of professional synthesis. Researching and writing the book spanned the transition from three decades as a professor of journalism at LIU Brooklyn to emeritus status. Moreover, the concern about threats to freedom of the press that animated this study was influenced by a number of professional and scholarly undertakings over the years.

    My awareness of the importance of freedom of expression was heightened in the 1970s by my association as a board member with the Pacifica Foundation, which operates a network of five iconoclastic listener-sponsored radio stations. This entailed the resolution of cases involving protection of news sources as well as the landmark indecency case FCC v. Pacifica (1976), for which I attended oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. My experience with Pacifica piqued my interest in writing what became my first book, Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History (Sage, 1996).

    Concern about the impact of the Espionage Act was also influenced by my experience as Faculty Coordinator of the George Polk Awards, conferred by LIU, which reflect the importance of freedom of the press in enabling impactful investigative journalism. Take the example of four-time Polk winner Seymour Hersh for his coverage of the CIA and the wars in Vietnam and Iraq; his intrepid reporting relied on the cultivation of confidential government sources, a practice that recent administrations have sought to criminalize through the Espionage Act. Writing a biography of Fred Friendly—Friendlyvision (Columbia University Press, 2009)—was yet another impetus. Friendly’s Seminars on Media and Society were launched upon the premise that greater scrutiny was needed of the relationship between the judiciary and the press. Indeed, one of the moderators of the seminars, the eminent law professor Benno C. Schmidt, had written about the threat that the Espionage Act posed to the press in a scathing law review article.

    Every fall semester I taught the Communications Law course in LIU Brooklyn’s undergraduate journalism program, but realized that I needed a constitutional lawyer as co-author of an intended in-depth examination of the evolution and application of the Espionage Act in myriad political and legal contexts. Enter Carey Shenkman, constitutional lawyer, graduate of NYU Law School and member of the panel of experts of Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression Program. He is a former associate of the late human rights lawyer Michael Ratner, the former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and American lawyer for Julian Assange in his Espionage Act case.

    Carey and I broke our book down into three distinct periods: (1) Targeting the Opposition: WW I and WW II, (2) Criminalizing Leaks: The Cold War, and (3) Policing Digital Journalism: The War on Terror. Some key points: We describe how from the outset the Espionage Act was deployed against publications and organizations opposed to U.S. entry into WW I rather than against spies. We establish how the use of the Espionage Act during WW I helped spark the divergent careers of both Roger Baldwin and J. Edgar Hoover, shaping the subsequent trajectory of the ACLU and of the FBI.

    The Espionage Act serves as a lens through which to view major developments in US journalism and political history. It was employed as a cudgel to intimidate the Black press during WW II, as a vehicle for the rise of McCarthyism, as punishment for release of the Pentagon Papers, and as a weapon against a plethora of whistleblowers during the Obama and Trump administrations. At the same time, our study reveals the ambivalence of key attorneys general in applying the act against journalistic sources, from John Lord O’Brian to Francis Biddle and Eric Holder—as well as important initiatives for reform of the act to foster a proper balance between the requirements for a free press and national security.

    Ralph Engelman is a Professor Emeritus of Journalism & Communication Studies, LIU Brooklyn. 

  • 17 Mar 2023 10:30 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you get involved in AJHA? 

    I learned about the formation of AJHA from its founder, David Sloan, attending the organization's first meeting at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and meeting some outstanding scholars who became life-long friends, including David, Maurine Beasley and Sidney Kobre.

    Since my primary interest was in the history of broadcast news, I thought that I might be able to learn more about the print side of things from this organization and its people. In a "second wave" of development other outstanding scholars emerged in that specialty: Mike Conway, Dale Cressman, Tom Mascaro, Maddie Liseblad and Jon Marshall -- just to name a few. They have been extremely helpful to me and one another. Over the years, we've formed a professional family of scholars.

    How did you contribute to AJHA's early development? 

    Serving on the inaugural Board of Directors, as a "cheerleader" in establishing our journal, "American Journalism," and hosting an early meeting in St. Louis, I met many early contributors. After serving a term as president, I also hosted a board meeting when we decided to revise the organization's very early by-laws.

    Who are some people from AJHA who had the biggest impact on you -- including your research?

    Sid Kobre, whose extensive work I reviewed and discussed with him, and David Sloan, who recruited me to the organization and asked me to contribute to one of his many history projects. Of course, this is what David did for many of the organization's early contributors as well as his former Ph.D. students. I've thanked him and even his wife Joanne many times for involving me in all this. The first draft of a chapter I put together for David turned into an early book of mine, "The Political Performers." This book was followed by several more with contributions from members like Don Godfrey, Mary Beadle, Roy Moore, Maurine Beasley, Bernell Tripp, Peggy Blanchard, Fred Blevens, Kathy Bradshaw, David Copeland, Erika Engstrom, Elliott King and Kim Voss. All are AJHA devotees and friends.

    Who were some of the other early members who worked with you in areas beyond research?

    AJHA has always been blessed with very talented and dedicated leaders. I'm thinking now of people like Carol Sue Humphrey, Wally Eberhardt, Therese Lueck, Erika Pribanic-Smith and David Vergobbi. I’ve worked on a large number of collaborative projects with many AJHA members. Interaction with AJHA members helped me to remain active in writing and publishing.  They also, on occasion, provided some sorely needed perspective. Jim Startt had been years in the academy before we met and he helped me navigate some tricky waters in advancing various academic initiatives and new degree programs. Barbara Cloud was also a major influence in that regard. Barbara hosted an early AJHA meeting held in Las Vegas and introduced me to Hank Greenspun, the Nevada publisher who became a key benefactor and namesake of University of Nevada-Las Vegas' Journalism School. I followed Barbara in office as AJHA president.

    I was able to join Barbara, Greg Borchard, Tony Ferri and Larry Mullen, plus the rest of UNLV's journalism faculty in getting that new school started and well-underway before returning back to our home base in Missouri. In the years following that assignment, professors from my previous schools, including the late Sam Riley of Virginia Tech and John Ferre, now retired from University of Louisville, were making solid contributions to the organization—and our field—and so I was grateful when they would sometimes credit me for having involved them. I don't get to attend many national meetings these days but I do get a genuine kick out of it when I look over an on-line conference schedule for AJHA and notice some current names like Stephen Bates of UNLV or Cayce Myers from Virginia Tech.

    Betty Winfield was also a great help to me -- and on many occasions. Some of our more senior members might remember that AJHA worked on the initiative to get a U.S. Postage Stamp established to honor Edward R. Murrow.  We hosted a "First Day of Issue" ceremony in St. Louis and Betty was kind enough to drive in from Columbia to give a talk about Ed's radio broadcasts. She also helped me out when I was honored with a Goldsmith Award for a book I mentioned earlier, "The Political Performers." Betty even took a photo of me with Mrs. Murrow on that occasion and whenever anyone asked me if I ever met Ed Murrow, I could stop responding: "No, he passed away when I was in high school," to now boast instead: "But I did have dinner and screen some broadcasts with his wife Janet -- at Harvard." 

    What are your interests outside of academia?

    I am now in "Governor Emeritus" mode with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences here in the Midwest, so I stay in-touch by assuming some EMMY judging chores. We also support a major bicycle race here thru an organization called "Forest Park Forever." But my one guilty pleasure is being a total basketball nut. During that season, I become obsessed. In fact, my family likes to say that all the teaching assignments I have held were based on college basketball rankings. That's not TOTALLY true—in spite of some administrative positions I held in Kentucky and UNLV. 

    Louisville men's basketball has fallen on hard times lately but the last thing I heard from that University was an inquiry from John Ferre and the President's Office there when the University was responding to media inquiries regarding the confirmation of the CIA Director, Gina Haspel.  It turned out that when I got U of L's academic program established and its bachelor's degree approved back in 1976, Gina was one of many students who transferred from the University of Kentucky to the University of Louisville. She attended UK for a few years and was able to transfer and graduate from U of L in 1978. Louisville's development office wanted to know if I remembered Gina when she was still a student there? I said something like: "Recalling that it's been over forty years—unless she played basketball or appeared on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated,' probably not." What can you say? Right, I'm a hopeless case.

    Michael D. Murray is a Board of Curator’s Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri--St. Louis. He served as national president the American Journalism Historian’s Association and received the organization’s highest honor, its Lifetime Achievement (the Sidney Kobre Award), as well as the highest recognition by the Broadcast Education Association, the Distinguished Service to Education Award. He was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ honorary society, Silver Circle. 

  • 24 Feb 2023 6:53 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Elisabeth Fondren

    As soon as I entered the Stanford University campus, got off the free Marguerite shuttle bus, and walked towards the iconic Hoover Tower, which is the home of the Hoover Archives, I felt energized. And a sense of relief that my trip from New York City to Palo Alto had been so smooth.

    With a bit of delay (the archives closed during the pandemic), I was fortunate to use the 2020 AJHA Joseph McKerns Grant in August 2022 to spend a week at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Archives and Library to collect primary sources for my ongoing research on propaganda-press history during World War I and II.

    I had not been back to Stanford since 2017, when I had had the opportunity to work at the Hoover Archives for my dissertation on World War I international propaganda. These archives are famous for their large collections on international propaganda, counterpropaganda, war, and conflict.

    Researching Propaganda, Fascist Publicity and Psychological Warfare

    Specifically, I worked with the collections on propaganda posters 1914-1945, the Paris Peace Conference delegation propaganda, American fascist and Nazi groups in the interwar period, and World War II propaganda and psychological warfare in the European Theatre.

    One study that I am currently writing explores how propaganda ideas and techniques from the Great War—the first modern mass propaganda war—informed states’ campaigns during the ParisPeace Conference, as well as the press’ growing skepticism and discourse around the expectations (and limitations) of what propaganda and mass publicity could do. I am interested to investigate the tepid interactions between post-World War I propagandists and journalists.

    At Stanford I also studied the German American Bund records to see how press covered the U.S. home-grown Nazi movement leading up to World War II. By accessing these records, specifically, the minutes of the Executive Committee, translations of Führer commands, financial records, propaganda, and photographs, relating to activities of the Bund, I was able to read about the fascist roots and ideas of this organization, which tried to rally support for its pro-Nazi, antisemitic, and U.S. isolationist agenda during 1936-1941. I am immensely grateful to AJHA for funding this research trip.

    On a personal note, that trip also was the first time for me to leave my 1.5-year-old toddler at home with my husband and embark on a solo research trip. The prospect of studying wartimepropaganda, and to spend a full week reading primary documents 3,000 miles from home, was exciting for all of us. The Stanford University campus was quiet since I visited during the summer break, but most cafés and eateries, and the large bookstore were open. Face-time video calls on the campus lawn, and seeing my little one eat strawberry smoothies, while saying ‘da, da, da” is a very happy memory.


    Planning your research: The Hoover Archives reading room is located in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Building and open Monday-Friday. The archives are internationally renowned, and reservation is required, at least several weeks in advance. As with most archives, materials need to be requested in advance. In my experience, the excellent staff is happy to add to requests on site and is very thorough in working with researchers on site.

    Reading Room Reservations:

    The Hoover Archives are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm and by reservation only. Reservations can be made via the online portal:

    How to get to Stanford University: Fly to San Francisco or San Jose airport, take BART subway and CalTrain to Palo Alto, or use Taxi/Uber. There are many accommodation options (hotels, AirBnB) close by in Palo Alto or Menlo Park. The Marguerite shuttle is free and open to the public.

    Elisabeth Fondren is an assistant professor of journalism at St. John’s University in New York.

  • 22 Feb 2023 10:30 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Ken Ward 

    While struggling with how to write this column, I realized that I was approaching it as the new guy. “Hi, you probably don’t know me, but …,” as if I’m that new grad student in the organization. I was that guy in New Orleans, ten years ago. Columbus will be my tenth consecutive conference. 

    I like you folks. And I guess time flies when you’re with friends. A decade is a long time, but I like journalism history, and you’re the people with whom I like talking about it. 

    Each year has brought me further into the organization—first as grad committee chair, then registrar, then board member, and now as treasurer. I’ve learned more about what we do each step along the way. As treasurer, I’m learning about things AJHA does that I never understood before.  

    We’re a much more complex organization than it appears at first glance. We directly publish one academic journal and aid in the publication of another, throw one big conference and support two others, maintain multiple websites, administer thousands of dollars in awards and grants, publish a newsletter, and do a bunch of other cool stuff I’m forgetting about.  Each of those activities relies on the support of your donations, memberships and conference fees. 

    My job as treasurer is two-fold. First, I have to manage the day-to-day flow of financial resources through our organization. When you give the organization money, I’m the person on the other side of the screen (or envelope), making sure our expenses are paid and awards funded. It’s a serious job, and I’m grateful to you all for trusting me with it. I spent a year shadowing our capable past treasurer, Carolyn Edy, before taking the reins myself. I’m thankful for her guidance and for the work done by all past treasurers in helping keep the lights on. 

    My second job is to make sure this organization can keep doing all this great work not just this year or next but long into the future. I know this is something we all want, but I’m grateful it has the immediate attention of our president, Mike Conway, who in Memphis formed an ad hoc committee to ensure the ongoing financial health of AJHA. He was kind enough to put me on that committee, and we’re well into the process of researching the current situation of our finances and developing a plan to keep this organization hosting conferences, publishing journals, and administering grants and awards well into the future. 

    In the next few months, our committee will recommend to the board steps for securing the lasting financial health of AJHA. As Mike said in his column last fall, we’ll have to take a hard look at how what we’re doing now impacts what we are able to do in the future. But the outcome—the knowledge that we can continue working and learning together through this great organization long into the future—is worth the hassle. 

    Again, thanks for letting me serve you, and if you ever have anything I might be able to help with, don’t hesitate to reach out at  

  • 22 Feb 2023 9:48 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    How did you become involved in AJHA? 

    I don't remember how I learned about AJHA. I attended my first conference in 1988, in Charleston. I had done a collective biography of labor press editors for a social history seminar as part of my Ph.D. program at Illinois, and presented the paper there (and later published it in American Journalism). I felt welcome, and experienced a welcome break from the pretentiousness I saw at some other conferences. I've attended several times since then, reviewed for the journal, and such. It's been harder to make the conferences recently; they hit at a fairly awkward time in our academic calendar and it's not as easy to skip town for a few days as it used to be.

    What drew you to the labor press?

    I entered Illinois thinking I would do a dissertation on the American labor press, grounding it in social movement theory and exploring the ways the labor movement sought to construct a democratic, accountable communications system. But it quickly became obvious that this was a far more complex task than I had imagined. On the one hand, I had not given nearly enough thought to the role of immigrant workers and the vast array of working class newspapers they created and sustained. While there was some excellent work on a few of these papers, overall there was very little.

    The situation has improved a bit in recent years, especially as regards the Yiddish-language press. There was also a lot of work to be done on the English-language labor press, and especially on local labor papers -- most weeklies, but also including daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee, New York and Seattle. It became clear that I was going to have to do a lot of basic research, and so I shifted to studying the working class press in Chicago. Chicago had several dailies published by and for working class communities, in Czech, English, German, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovenian and other languages, as well as scores of weekly and monthly publications issued by local and national unions, mutual aid societies and political organizations. And these existed in a particular ecological context, negotiating the relationship between ethnicity and class within their communities as well as their place in the broader media and political environment.

    As I was exploring the Chicago Daily Socialist's rise from an undercapitalized small-circulation political daily to the city's largest circulation daily newspaper (which inevitably led to its bankruptcy, given its inability to attract the advertising dollars that subsidized its capitalist competitors), this quickly led me to turn to the archival records of the Chicago Federation of Labor and Chicago Daily News publisher (and head of the Newspaper Publishers Association) Victor Lawson, which contained a wealth of material about collusion between the publishers to manage competition, control labor, and ensure a business-friendly political environment. The hiring of gangsters by rival publishers to control newsboys was documented in Lawson's papers, as were squabbles over publishers refusing to share the costs of gunmen to shoot up news wagons delivering rival papers. This led to studies of the Chicago Newspaper Trust, Chicago newsboys, and book chapters on the economic role newsboys played in the U.S. and on newsboy strikes. The newsboys themselves left few records, but there is quite a bit of material in the archives of publishers and other labor organizations, and also in the records of social reformers and organizations battling child labor. These materials need to be read critically, of course, filtered as they are by economic interest and middle class sensibilities, but we can learn quite a bit from them about newsboys and the central role they played in newspaper distribution for over a century.


    What are you working on now?

    Recently I've returned to work I was doing in grad school on the political economy of the media. I had published some articles on the retail book industry, on radio regulatory policy, and on collusion between newspaper publishers at the turn of the century. A few years ago I became intrigued by the debate over news deserts, a problem that to me involves much more than the decline in the daily press. Even before papers began closing and news departments were transformed into Potemkin Villages of prognosticating pundits, the lives and concerns of ordinary people had disappeared from the news columns. Several years ago I developed a first year seminar on the intertwined crises in democracy and the media, and three years ago began offering a political economy of communications course that meets our college's general education junior seminar synthesis requirement. I've been revisiting Bagdikian's Media Monopoly books, trying to better document the extent of a problem he wrote about quite convincingly, but largely anecdotally, and to explore how these trends have continued in the two decades since his last volume was published. I'm also looking back to concerns over concentration in book publishing and newspapers dating back to the 19th century. I have a fairly heavy teaching schedule, but there's certainly a book in this if I can carve out some time for it.

    As I've poked around in archives over the years, I've gathered quite a bit of material that I need to develop more fully. I have some papers on labor struggles in Chicago newspapers  that I'd like to get into publishable shape. I had been holding off on these for a larger book on Chicago newspaper ecology, but I have several hundred pages written on different aspects of that and it's probably time to start letting them out into the world. A couple of years ago I published a chapter on Cultura Obrera, a Spanish-language anarchist labor paper published in New York City under different auspices from 1910 into the 1950s. This was an explicitly transnational publication, distributed by seamen from Buenos Aires to Boston, and in its first two decades played a central role in efforts to build an international maritime workers union. The Spanish immigrant marine firemen who sustained the paper into the 1920s (when they were displaced by diesel engines) were one of the anchors for the Industrial Workers of the World's strong presence in the industry (the other was its control of the Philadelphia docks and its strong appeal particularly to African-American dockworkers across the country), resulting in Congressional hearings, deportations, and other repressive measures.

    What hobbies (outside of academia) do you have?

    I don't know that I have hobbies as such. Years ago I used to play trumpet and go to jazz clubs. But between work and my wife not much caring for jazz and my daughter's homework, I don't get out that often. We have a community bookstore that takes a fair bit of time, and publish a labor magazine and a labor history calendar. And I read, not as much as I'd like to, but certainly more than most.

    Jon Bekken is a Professor of Communication at Albright College in Pennsylvania. 

  • 30 Jan 2023 9:36 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    When and how did you become involved in AJHA?

    I attended my first AJHA conference as a master’s student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. I took a media history seminar with Dr. Betty Houchin Winfield that focused on press coverage of historic American heroes, considering what scholars had written about the concept of heroism. For my paper, I wanted to write about a woman, a “heroine,” but I had a hard time finding one. I flipped the assignment and focused on how the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book wrote regularly about female heroism in the 19th century, despite the fact that women weren’t supposed to be either heroic or well known. Betty proposed an AJHA panel that included several studies from that seminar, and the panel was accepted. We presented at the 13th AJHA convention in Roanoke, Va., in October of 1994, and it was a blast.

    I fell in love with AJHA. It was remarkable to me how welcoming the association was to graduate students. Senior researchers whose books and articles I read for class were there! They didn’t put themselves on a pedestal. They attended sessions, listened and encouraged emerging scholars. I have been involved in AJHA in one way or another ever since. I love attending research presentations, and the conversations about history in-between sessions. I always leave an AJHA conference fired up to do more or better research.

    What drew you to studying memory?

    That first heroism study was really about how the press reflects and reinforces mainstream values, for better or worse. We venerate heroes (and heroines) based on our own needs and ideas about what’s important. As those ideas change, so do our heroes. I find this fascinating.  My next big project looked at newspaper obituaries, which also mirror cultural values. As America evolved culturally, who we remembered in death and how we remembered them changed dramatically.

    I study memory because I believe that it matters. People care deeply about the past.  Consider the recent controversies over the removal of Confederate monuments or the nation’s reaction to The 1619 Project in The New York Times. Consider the importance of the “founders” and the American Revolution, or the icons of the Civil Rights Movement. Consider the damage done by the “lost cause myth” following the Civil War. Journalism and pubic memory are connected in complicated ways, and I believe that relationship is worthy of study.

    Why is memory important to the study of journalism history?

    The cliché insists that journalists write the first draft of history. Perhaps. Journalists produce subsequent drafts, too. They use history as a storytelling tool. Consciously or not, they sometimes misuse, distort and “forget” history, and those narratives also enter the public consciousness.


    What are you working on now?

    I’m still interested in how the press reflects values, but in this period of media disruption, I’m narrowing my focus to journalism values specifically. I’m starting with obituaries of journalists from the American Revolution to the establishment of journalistic codes of ethics in the early 20th century.

    I also spend a lot of my time on my duties as associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at UGA.

    What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of academia? 

    I am a fan of murder mysteries and read them like crazy. My dog is actually named for a famous fictional British detective’s sidekick, Inspector Lewis. I live near a park with excellent trails, and walk every day with MY sidekick, Lewis, who likes to inspect/sniff out anything he can. I like sports (as a spectator), mainly football and women’s gymnastics. Go Dawgs! I love attending classical concerts at UGA’s performing arts center.  

  • 30 Jan 2023 9:26 AM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Dianne Bragg

    On the first weekend in February 2023, a small band of AJHA journalism teachers and their students will descend upon Panama City Beach, Florida, for the AJHA Southeast Symposium. It will be the first such gathering since 2020, as COVID prevented the group from meeting the last two years, and the excitement over being together and showcasing students’ work is palpable. I am fortunate to be a part of this group, a tradition that began for me with my first Symposium in 2007.

    The Southeast Symposium began in 1992 with Dr. David Sloan from the University of Alabama and his idea to have a small weekend retreat for a small group of journalism historians from various institutions. Sloan recalled that they initially met in the mountains for a couple of years, but an intervening snowstorm put the skids on that. Afterward, the Symposium moved around to various locations, but eventually settled on Panama City, where the chance of snow was pretty remote. More importantly, it evolved to having faculty attendees choose up to six graduate students to participate and present their original historical research.

    The Symposium was one of the first places I presented my historical research. I remember feeling instantly at ease, as people like Vanessa Murphree, Dave Davies, and Bernell Tripp, along with many others, seemed interested in my work and offered critiques and words of encouragement. I already enjoyed the research I was doing, but the Symposium and the faculty there sealed the deal for me and my decision to pursue journalism history as my focus.

    We often hear the phrase “Pay it Forward” used in various situations, usually referring to monetary aid or acts of kindness. But it most certainly also applies to the teaching profession, both in and out of the classroom. The AJHA Southeast Symposium does just that. Several of us who first attended as students are now bringing our own fledgling historians to the Symposium. I remember meeting Willie Tubbs there when he was a graduate student under the tutelage of Dave Davies. He is now teaching at the University of West Florida with some of his own students attending.

    I share this story in the hopes that maybe AJHA members in other regions of the country might consider starting their own annual regional gathering. Without question, the faculty at the Southeast Symposium have developed a special connection over our years of meeting together. Many of my students who have attended consider it to be a highlight of their graduate school experience.

    Part of the Symposium’s success lies in the opportunity for the faculty members, now scattered across several states, to reconvene, reconnect, and revitalize our research and our teaching. We share ideas, see what’s happening in history courses in other classrooms, and come away feeling inspired by new ideas and treasured friends. Often when we “pay it forward,” we are not able to see the results of doing so. Since its small start forty years ago, the AJHA Southeast Symposium has become one place where we can.

    If anyone is interested in starting their own similar event, please reach out to me, and we can share how ours is organized. Meanwhile, it looks as though we will need a warm coat for a walk on the beach this year!

  • 20 Dec 2022 2:10 PM | Autumn Lorimer Linford (Administrator)

    By Kimberly Voss 

    More than three decades ago, there were few archives that documented the work of women journalists. Today, much has changed. In 2022, the State Historical Society of Missouri celebrated its 35th anniversary with an elaborate exhibit exploring over a decade’s worth of women in journalism. In Their Own Words: Celebrating the National Women and Media Collection features diaries, photos, letters, and interviews from the Collection.

    The collection includes documents of media organizations and professional and personal papers of more than 120 notable women from across the country who worked as reporters, editors, publishers, press spokespersons, and other positions in mass communication. They addressed the changing roles for women in the media industry, trends for the future, and how they were able to navigate careers in a typically male-dominated industry.

    • Established in 1987, the National Women and Media Collection is housed at the State Historical Society of Missouri. The papers and other materials document the roles women played in various media fields, both as employees and the coverage of women. It includes how those roles have changed over time.
    • “By drawing attention to the anniversary with a large-scale display, we hope the collection will grow and be supported by the voices of additional women in the media today and in the future,” said archivist Elizabeth Engel, who oversees the collection.
    • The National Women and Media Collection includes materials from the NWMC, including correspondence, diaries, and interview clips. Many of the items have been digitized. The National Women and Media Collection documents the many roles that women have played and are playing in the field of mass communication, both as media representatives and as objects of coverage. The collection offers opportunities to study how those roles have been altered over time and how attitudes toward women have changed. The primary sources are valuable to researchers and the press.
    • There were podcasts about the anniversary available through “Our Missouri” on Apple Podcasts during June and July. The episodes examine the history of the Collection and how its documents had been used by historians.
    • There was also a panel in honor of the exhibit and the Collection’s anniversary. The panelists included Betsey Bruce who spent 46 years covering St. Louis area news. She was the first woman assigned to daily hard news TV reporting in the area when KMOX-TV (now KMOV) hired her in 1971.
    • Sheila Gibbons is a communications executive with extensive experience in journalism and public relations. She is the longtime editor of the quarterly publication Media Report to Women about the relationship between women and media.
    • Andrea Stone spent 24 years at USA Today where she covered national news, presidential and congressional politics and foreign affairs. In 2009, she became Washington bureau chief for AOL News and, in 2011, The Huffington Post hired Stone as senior national correspondent in politics. In 2013, she launched the website of Al Jazeera America as a senior online executive producer.
    • Elizabeth Engel is a senior archivist for the State Historical Society of Missouri and manages the National Women in Media Collection. Engel was instrumental in helping to put together the current exhibit for the collection. Engel, an Iowa native and a University of Iowa graduate, holds a master’s degree in library and information science. She has been with the State Historical Society since 2006.
    • As the NWMC moves into its 36th year, the Collection continues to collect papers – including working with JAWS. The Journalism And Women Symposium (JAWS) works to advance the empowerment of women in the field of journalism, as well as advocating for more inclusive coverage of diversity. According to Jean Gaddy Wilson, a founding member of JAWS and the National Women & Media Collection: “As all communications’ structures shift their shapes, the mission of the National Women and Media Collection to gather the insights and materials of media women, and stand strong as a witness to our shared worlds of information and news, becomes even more important.”
    • Many of the organization’s members are JAWS members and can help with that mission. NWMC seeks to document more about JAWS’ women’s careers and careers of women of color whose work is not being preserved in other archives. For those interested in donating, here are a few tips to donate materials:
    • Do not throw away any materials. After all, rough drafts can be as important as the published article. The NWMC archive will help with the organization.
    • Browse through the current holdings by clicking on the “finding aid” by each woman or organization’s name.
    • Contact Elizabeth Engel ( to discuss your donation.

    Kimberly Voss is a Professor of Journalism at the University of Central Florida.

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

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software