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.

  • 22 Jan 2017 3:00 PM | Dane Claussen

    (Editor's Note: Lucy Morgan was unable to attend the AJHA's 2016 Convention in St. Petersburg to personally receive the 2016 Local Journalist Award; she was represented there by Tim Nickens, Editor of Editorials, Tampa Bay Times. But The Intelligencer caught up with her since then and asked her to tell us more.)

    I fell into journalism entirely by accident. I have never had a journalism course and I'm jealous of all of you who spent years at good schools learning things I have had to learn by trial and error.

    I got my first job as a reporter with absolutely no experience. A woman knocked on my door in Crystal River, Fla., where I was a stay-at-home mother of three children.

    Her name was Frances Devore and she was the area editor of the Ocala Star Banner, an afternoon daily in Central Florida. The local correspondent for the paper died in an auto accident a couple of weeks before her visit and she was looking for a replacement.

    I asked how she found her way to my door because I had never written a news story except for a high school paper in Hattiesburg, Miss., many years before.

    "The local librarian told me that you read more books than anyone else in town, so I thought if you read a lot you could probably write,'' she responded.

    We needed money and it was the sort of job I could do from home so I signed up and started out by covering our local Rotary Club's meeting and the Crystal River City Council.

    At my very first council meeting the Chairman nodded toward me and a few other correspondents for other papers and instructed us not to write about their discussion. They were talking about a new sewer system and the possibility of firing the police chief.

    I had never faced this question before, but it didn't seem right, so I wrote about what they were doing.

    The council was not happy with me. And in one way or another I've been in trouble with someone ever since.

    Over the years it has been the stories no one wanted me to write that gave me the best feeling about journalism.

    The ability to dig into the actions of public officials in Dixie and Taylor Counties where drug smugglers had literally taken over the area so they could bring loads of marijuana ashore each night without getting caught; sheriffs in other counties who abused their positions and state legislators who managed to eat and drink and travel at the expense of the lobbyists who wanted them to pass their bills.

    All were fair game and I was fortunate enough to work at a newspaper -- then called the St. Petersburg Times -- that was more than willing to publish the stories.

    One of my favorite projects involved a sheriff in Gulf County, Fla. (Port St Joe) who was forcing the female inmates in his jail to provide him with oral sex in his office at the jail.

    Several women with drug and alcohol problems had complained to the county judge and he called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. When it became apparent that state officials were not going to prosecute the sheriff or even force him out of office, someone called me.

    I believed the women. Individually they were not very credible, but their stories seemed real and very painful. I began writing about it. Federal authorities took over the case. Before it was over, 22 women testified before a federal grand jury, authorities found the sheriff's own semen all over the chairs and carpet in his office and the sheriff was convicted of violating the rights of the 22 women.

    They carted him off to jail at the end of the trial and I drove back to my office in Tallahassee. When I walked in the office, there was a beautiful vase of red roses with a card that read, "From the women you believed.''

    I don't know who sent the roses but I know that none of those women could have afforded them. It moved me to tears and remains one of my best moments as a reporter.

    We do have the power to right wrongs and force public officials to do what they were elected to do.  

    And there is no better feeling than getting a good story that does exactly that.

    --Lucy Morgan

    P.S. I still have never had a journalism course, but I do have a Pulitzer in investigative reporting--the first ever given to a woman.  And every now and then I still find a good story and write it.

    (Editor's Note: Morgan's biography from the 2016 AJHA convention program reads: "Lucy Morgan started her newspaper career in 1965 at the Ocala Star Banner, moving up to the St. Petersburg Times in 1968, where she covered crime, government and politics. She was chief of the Times capitol bureau for 20 years. She grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss., and attended Pasco Hernando Community College in New Port Richey and the University of South Florida but never took a journalism course. In 1973, Lucy was jailed for eight months after refusing twice to divulge a source's identity. In 1976, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the sentence and granted reporters a limited right to protect confidential sources. This landmark case continues to provide protection for reporters who refuse to identify sources. In 1985, Lucy shared the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting with Jack Reed for a series that led to the ouster of the Pasco County Sheriff. In 1982, she was runner-up for the 1982 Pulitzer in local reporting. In 2015, the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida named her Florida Citizen of the Year. Lucy is married to Richard Morgan, who retired in 1991 after a 30-year career with the St. Petersburg Times. They have three children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren."

  • 22 Jan 2017 2:41 PM | Dane Claussen

    (Editor’s Note: Dawkins in Professor in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, Hampton University, the author of several books, and a former print and online journalist.)

    I believe I have a duty to make American Media History relevant to students who are aspiring journalists, communicators, and, consumers of information who should be civically engaged. I set out to accomplish my goal by meeting students on shared ground: I require of them effort, reading comprehension, narrative writing and participation, whether it is team projects or classroom discussion. Meanwhile, the students should appreciate me if I use technology, including digital media and video in order to bring history to life.

    Early in each semester I make the case that the Colonial Era reveals the DNA of journalists and communicators. Benjamin Franklin was a printer, a gifted and playful writer who as a teenage apprentice wrote under a pseudonym, Silence Dogood. Samuel Adams, first cousin of future president John Adams, was a celebrated brewer, and, a journalist. Thomas Jefferson perhaps wrote the greatest editorial of all time, the Declaration of Independence. I play the National Public Radio dramatic reading of that document in class. Thirteen British colonies defeated a superpower, not only with firearms, but largely with ink and paper. Indeed, journalism matters.

    My attempts to engage and influence students moves on to the 19th century and the Penny Press era. New York’s most recognized landmarks, Times and Herald squares, are the hallowed grounds of dynamic, visionary newspapers, the New York Times and the New York Herald [the latter which by the next century merged with an equally significant competitor, the New York Tribune]. Also during the early 1800s in New York, Freedom’s Journal was remarkable because black people could not vote, own property in most places, and were not citizens, nevertheless they could create their media and demonstrate for freedom and equality. 

    Indeed, journalism matters.

    After getting to know the students for a few weeks, I make it their turns to share what they have learned, and, believe. I task them to read about and then write essays about Colonial-era media makers, whether they are well known – Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Thomas Paine and, New York Post founder Alexander Hamilton – or are important and deserving wider recognition, i.e. Anna Zenger, wife of printer John Peter Zenger, who continued to publish the New York newspaper while her husband was in jail, and Sarah Updike Goddard, a Rhode Island publisher.

    The next round of essays are assigned about the time class will focus of the startups of electronic media – radio, film and television at the start of the 20th century. This task is to write about modern-day journalists, people they see on cable news or read online. A recent trend has been that about a dozen notable African-American journalists have written memoirs or narrative non-fiction books. I have used this opportunity to craft a list of authors for the students to write about. Examples include Michele Norris of NPR and author of The Grace of Silence; Don Lemon of CNN, author of Transparent, and BTW a student favorite because of his relative youth and visibility, and Gwen Ifill of PBS author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. [Ifill, 61, an iconic Washington correspondent turned anchor, died in November]. 

    Philosophically, this assignment is crucial because I teach mass media at a historically black university. It is important that students truly understand and appreciate the contemporary journalists who came before them.

    Usually by the midterm, the students are fully immersed in the class and the routines: lectures integrated with multimedia, discussions, weekly quizzes and writing assignments. At this point I task students to choose their three-member teams in order to work together to produce 10-minute end-of-semester multimedia projects on topics that mostly relate to television, film or digital media since that trio of topics is our focus in the second half of the semester. 

    I remind the students that for most of the semester I have dictated what I believe they must learn and know in a survey of 325 years of American Media History from 1690 and the publication of Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic, to the utility of 21st century social media networks. Now I say, it’s their turns to show me and their peers what media is relatable and important in their lives. 

    I will also get to assess students’ varied talents as I observe them present in teams: Some are bookish scholars, others are showmen and women, and still others are behind-the-scenes producers and directors. 

    In the end the variety makes for what I believe is a shared learning experience.

  • 22 Jan 2017 2:30 PM | Dane Claussen

    By Gerry Lanosga, Indiana University

    In 2015, AJHA members voted to convert the History in the Curriculum Task Force into a permanent standing committee. The decision reflects the reality that, in the face of our discipline’s digital turn, journalism historians must continue to vigilantly guard the place of historical study and research.

    In programs that have a professional mission, there is an ever-present risk that instruction in conceptual areas such as history and ethics will be marginalized. Many of us have seen this firsthand with the relentlessly increasing emphasis on technical skills. Several recent Intelligencer articles have addressed the challenges of teaching history in schools where many do not see it as a priority.

    Beyond the anecdotes, a review of the literature about the pedagogical priorities of journalism and mass communication programs yields some depressing results. In a 2012 survey of journalism program heads, for example, only 28 percent named history as a course they thought all of their majors should take. 

    But the literature also some bright spots. Just last year, Journalist’s Resource at Harvard University surveyed about 300 journalism instructors on the importance of journalism history in the curriculum, and about three-fourths of the respondents said they think it is very or extremely important.

    Such data animates the work of our committee, whose mission is to identify and implement strategies to communicate the value of history as part of the core curriculum in both graduate and undergraduate settings. Last year, the committee determined that our task to do that would be greatly aided by fresh data about the state of journalism history education. 

    The first part of our data gathering – a member survey – is now complete. The online survey, conducted last fall, garnered 105 responses (about 43 percent of AJHA’s active membership) from faculty at 92 different colleges and universities. Thanks to all who participated! Some of the key takeaways:

    *47% of the respondents work in ACEJMC-accredited programs

    *25% said their programs had lost a media historian within the past five years, and a fourth of those respondents said the position was not filled with another historian.

    *80% come from programs that regularly offer an undergraduate course dedicated to journalism or media history. Only about 28% of the programs require the course, but another 14% require a course that includes history as an element.

    *About 44% of programs that have graduate degrees include a course dedicated to journalism or media history, but only about a third of those have offered the course within the last two years. About 8% of the graduate programs represented in the responses require a history course, and another 5% require a course that has history as an element.

    It’s clear from the data that, even at schools where our members work, we face challenges in maintaining commitments to history in the curriculum.

    Now that we have an updated snapshot of our own membership, the committee hopes to follow up in 2017 with a broader survey of deans and chairs of journalism and mass communication programs to get fresh metrics on the status of history in the curricula. Once we have that data in hand, we can use it in a variety of ways to promote history in the broader conversations now taking place about the future of journalism education. Specific initial activities could include publication of the survey data and follow-up contacts with program directors.

    Beyond that, we hope that having comprehensive new data will help us prioritize renewed efforts to advance our committee’s mission. In reviewing previous work of the task force, it is clear that many strong ideas have been discussed yet never implemented. They include a mentoring program for grad students, posting information about publishing opportunities, an annual conference panel on teaching, maintaining a list of schools offering coursework in history, preparing a brochure or section of the website to promote successes of schools and scholars specializing in historical work, and even considering some type of accreditation or recognition of programs that have strong journalism history offerings.

    Implementing even a few of those ideas will take hard work, but it’s the work of the angels! If you’d like to join the committee and help out, we would love to have you. Or if you just have an idea to share, please let me know. You can reach me at

    One thing you can do right now to help is answer two questions that will provide information we can use to further our work. We distributed these questions at the conference in St. Petersburg but received only a few responses. If you have some time soon to send me your answers, we would be most appreciative. The plan is to use the information we gather to enhance the materials on the AJHA website. Here are the questions:

    Please list 3-5 of your favorite/most useful online research resources.

    Why do you think it is important for students to study history in general, and journalism/media history particularly. If you are willing to have your name associated with you answer, please so indicate.

    Please send your answers directly to me at

    Thank you for your support, and best wishes for a Happy 2017!

  • 22 Jan 2017 12:04 AM | Dane Claussen

    The Journal for MultiMedia History (JMMH) accepts multimedia history submissions for peer review and possible publication. Videos and films, hypertext, computer based and internet projects, or blends of media as ancient as theater and as new as interactive mobile technology are welcome. Projects covering any and all topics of history are welcome. Submissions can be entered via links on the sidebar of the main page of the JMMH at

    The Journal also welcomes scholarly analyses of the field of multimedia history. Scholarly analyses would typically be peer reviewed by the JMMH. The JMMH also welcomes reviews of works relevant to multimedia history (reviews of multimedia history projects or of books relevant to the field, and so on). Reviews can be submitted to the link above for consideration by the editor for possible publication. Reviews and analyses can take text or multimedia form.

    The Journal for MultiMedia History is the first peer-reviewed electronic journal that presents, evaluates, and disseminates multimedia historical scholarship.  Begun in 1998, the JMMH has undergone a recent revitalization and is accepting submissions for forthcoming issues. The JMMH is a history journal, guided by the same principles as the discipline of history overall. The JMMH, though, takes as its starting point the idea that different forms can enhance or even revolutionize how we question, pursue, experience, understand, and portray history. Therefore, the JMMH promotes, showcases, and examines the field of multimedia history.

    As noted, submissions can be entered via links on the sidebar of the main page of the JMMH at However, if there are any questions about how to submit a multimedia history project to the JMMH, please follow directions on the website, including how to email the editor directly. Submissions must be original and should not have been published previously or be under consideration for publication while being evaluated for publication in the JMMH.

    Dates: Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.  For inclusion in the first revitalized issue, submissions should be made before March 15, 2017. Publication date of all approved submissions to be determined by the Editor.

    Contact Info: Kwinn Doran, Editor

    Contact Email:


  • 22 Jan 2017 12:00 AM | Dane Claussen

    The Georgia Historical Society in Savannah will host the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer InstituteRecognizing an Imperfect Past: History, Memory and the American PublicCollege and university instructors are invited to apply. The institute will explore how Americans recognize, remember, and memorialize controversial people and events in our past. Through lecture, discussion, and site visits, participants will engage with leading scholars in exploring topics such as slavery, the Confederacy, the Jim Crow era, lynching, and the Civil Rights movement. The institute will be held June 11-23, 2017. Applications are due March 1, 2017. Visit for more information.

    Contact Info: 

    For more information, please contact Elyse Butler at

  • 21 Jan 2017 11:57 PM | Dane Claussen

    Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University

    May 11-13, 2017 

    Organizer: Meghan Forbes, NYU and UT-Austin

    Keynote Speaker: Jenna Freedman, Barnard

    The printing and distribution of the avant-garde magazine, illustrated weekly, and underground zine have developed in the twentieth century in tandem with technological advancements in printing and access to these technologies in various regions, gaining traction in different parts of the world at different times based on economic, social, and political conditions. At its best, the magazine is an efficient, relatively affordable (for both publisher and consumer) vehicle for the artists and intellectuals it represents, and has the capacity to innovate with new technologies and engage in pressing social, political, and artistic issues.

    This is even more true now, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, as we observe new models for content, design, and distribution of the periodical or magazine published on-line, which has the potential to involve an even wider audience, and host a variety of multi-media content. The magazine thus continues to be a leading platform for social and political engagement, and artistic innovation.

    Corresponding to a turn towards the digital, the field of Periodical Studies has gained traction as it situates the magazine as a cultural product that incorporates text, image, and graphic design toward various political, social, artistic, and pedagogical ends. With large scale projects dedicated to digitizing print based magazines, such as the Blue Mountain project at Princeton University or the Modernist Journals Project at Brown, and a concurrent turn towards digital mapping and data visualization, periodicals that were once sequestered in the archive now have the capacity to reach a wider audience, and make visible previously overlooked networks and connections enacted within and across the magazines.

    The Symposium on the Periodical, Printed Matter, and Digital Archiving, to be held at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU invites publishers, editors, artists, and scholars from the Social Sciences and Humanities to come together around various methodologies and archival practices, and explore the following topics and questions:

    • Politics of language and translation in multilingual or internationally circulated publications.
    • Trans-networks: serial print culture as an intersectional axis for place, culture, genre, language, race, gender, sexuality.
    • Does printed matter “translate” digitally?
    • How does the library intervene in its archived periodicals through systems of cataloging, binding, and preservation? How does this affect the accessibility of these collections for researchers?
    • Gaps in the archive: what periodicals and other printed ephemera have been left out? What can be done to source and preserve historical periodicals originally not held in collections?
    • Likewise, what historical print magazines have not been digitized? What geographic-linguistic regions, gender, cultural, religious, and racial orientations are neglected?
    • Effective strategies for making visible and accessible digitized collections through Open Source platforms, as well as data visualization and digital mapping projects. Distant versus close reading strategies. Possible pedagogical applications.
    • The role and relevance of the print-based mag in our highly digital moment.
    • How does the digital magazine correspond with or subvert the conception of periodical as a material product and cultural form?
    • How do zines, comics, and avant-garde publications resist the potential for the periodical to be simply an inevitable by-product of consumerist, capitalist culture? Do they?

    All panels and the keynote address will be held at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. Site visits to relevant periodical collections at the New York Public Library and Barnard Zine Library, as well as the library of the Museum of Modern Art, have also been arranged.

    Those interested in participating should submit a CV and abstract of no more than 300 words by e-mail with the subject heading: IPK SYMPOSIUM ON THE PERIODICAL to organizer Meghan Forbes <>, Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge no later than Friday, February 3, 2017.

    Supported by the Institute for Public Knowledge, Center for the Humanities and the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, in partnership with Public Books, the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room at the New York Public Library, the Zine Library at Barnard College, and the Museum of Modern Art Library.

    Contact Email:

  • 21 Jan 2017 11:53 PM | Dane Claussen

    May 23-24, 2017

    Deadline for submissions: February 10, 2017

    Media, Communication, and Film Studies Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges (MCFLAC) invites proposals for papers, panels, and exhibits for a two-day symposium, to be held at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The symposium will bring together faculty engaged in the scholarly and pedagogical praxis of media, communication, and film studies in the liberal arts context for two days of resource sharing, student-work showcases, workshops, and panel sessions.

    Building off the momentum of last year’s inaugural symposium, at Muhlenberg College, this year’s theme is “Revolutions.” We have chosen this theme in keeping with Colby College’s Center for the Arts and Humanities year-long focus, which is broadly conceived to encompass revolutions in the “political, literary, artistic, cultural, social, scientific, … conceptual,” and, we suggest, pedagogical and institutional realms.

    We invite proposals (250 to 500 words) that engage with our theme, including:

    * Revolutionary approaches to teaching
    * Teaching about revolutions--past and present
    * Revolutionizing the (increasingly neoliberal) institutional structures in which we are located
    * Mobilizing theory and pedagogy to facilitate revolutionary thinking
    * Analyzing the impact of ongoing revolutionary changes (sociocultural, economic, epistemological) upon our work in liberal education, including ideas for redirecting, capitalizing and/or adapting.
    * Interrogating the “revolutionary” rhetoric around higher education, with the liberal arts college said to be ripe for “disruption”
    * Responding to the Trump “revolution” and its reverberations on our campuses

    Preference will be given to submissions that fit the symposium theme, but we welcome submissions on all topics reflecting MCFLAC’s unique emphasis on praxis in liberal arts settings. We seek to bring together a diverse group of teachers, scholars, and students, from different backgrounds with various life experiences, teaching styles, and intellectual orientations.

    Presentation formats include:

    * individual paper abstracts
    * panel session abstracts (identifying three to four participants)
    * student-work showcases (featuring scholarship, media work, and/or hybrids in digital or other formats)
    * pedagogy workshops (on core assignments, capstone courses, and/or pedagogical techniques)
    * research workshops (on projects, strategies, publishing models, and/or research/exhibit and tools)
    * Additional formats considered

    *** In addition to these formats, we invite submissions for 3-minute short cuts: lightning fast presentations in which participants give a quick run-down of innovative or useful tech tools, assignments, teaching strategies etc. The presentations are three minutes long and we ask you to use one slide per minute. Please label your “short cut” submissions accordingly.

    Please include a brief bio and note any technology requirements with your proposal. Include your bio, proposal, and tech needs in one PDF document and attach to an email addressed to Beth Corzo-Duchardt, at If you are submitting a short cut proposal in addition to another proposal, please attach as a separate document.

    Deadline for submissions: February 10, 2017
    Questions? Contact Beth Corzo Duchardt, at
    For more information

  • 21 Jan 2017 11:17 PM | Dane Claussen

    “This volume represents a terrific research undertaking. Carolyn M. Edy has done a thorough job of exploring the intersection of public policy and gender identity. Her work displays a sophisticated understanding of gendered discourse and the construction of the genre of woman war correspondent. This study makes a significant contribution to both women’s studies and the history of war correspondents in general, male as well as female. While highlighting the careers of notable women, this book also explores the careers of those whose work had previously been omitted from media history and places them within the context of the journalism of their times.”

    —Maurine Beasley, University of Maryland, College Park, author of Women of the Washington Press: Politics, Prejudice, and Persistence

    “Edy has broadened and deepened our understanding of women war correspondents. In so doing, she has expanded our appreciation of the scope and quality of their work and has corrected the many incomplete or incorrect conclusions of those who wrote the first drafts of history. These women served, and served well, their country and their profession, and it is good to have them restored to their proper place in history.”

    —Michael S. Sweeney, Ohio University, author of The Military and the Press: An Uneasy Truce


    This book demonstrates the ways in which the press and the military promoted and prevented women’s access to war, outlining the rich history of more than 250 women who worked as war correspondents up through World War II. It also reveals that the concepts of “woman war correspondent” and “war correspondent” helped and hindered the work of all war correspondents even as they challenged and ultimately expanded the public’s understanding of war and of women.


    Carolyn M. Edy is assistant professor of journalism at Appalachian State University.

    Special 30% OFF discount offer!*

    Hardback: ISBN 978-1-4985-3927-2 Dec. 2016. 192 pages. Regular price: $80.00 / After discount: $56.00 eBook: ISBN 978-1-4985-3928-9 Regular price: $79.99 / After discount: $55.99

    To get discount, use code LEX30AUTH17 when ordering

    *May not be combined with other offers and discounts, valid until 12/31/2017.

  • 21 Jan 2017 11:07 PM | Dane Claussen

    At the AJHA Convention, St. Petersburg, Florida, October 6, 2016:

    I am delighted to accept the Sidney Kobre Lifetime Achievement Award. When I first became involved in journalism history, much of the work being done was what we would term progressive professional history. It was the story of how journalism developed as a profession and how it improved over the years. Rarely did journalism historians address the broader media landscape or make an attempt to anchor journalism history in what was happening in the larger society.

    There were a few exceptions to this. One of those exceptions was embodied in the work of Sidney Kobre, who, as David Sloan has pointed out, in many ways adhered to the progressive professional approach, but who approached journalism history from a sociological framework. By using that approach, Sidney Kobre introduced the concept of interdisciplinary approaches to journalism history.

    Lifetime achievement awards cause us to look backward perhaps more than forward. I recently received a congratulations note from former Kobre winner Hazel Dicken-Garcia, and in it she included a quotation, “If we celebrate the years behind us, they become stepping stones of strength and joy for the years ahead.” I thought it particularly appropriate, especially when coupled with an Oliver Wendell Holmes quote she cited:  “There is no time like the old time, when you and I were young!”

    Looking back—into the old time--, I want to recognize and thank colleagues and mentors. I’d like us all to think about the mentors who helped us create the stepping-stones that will carry us through the years. Our colleagues are important to our achievements, but all of us together serve a greater good – to preserve the teaching of history throughout our universities.

    I’d like to thank my colleague Betty Winfield. Many of you know Betty, who has been active in this organization, who is a Sidney Kobre Award winner and who nominated me for this award. Betty established herself as a presidential scholar and throughout her career, Betty always graciously gave her expertise to students and colleagues. I suspect she advised dissertations for some of you in this room.

    I’d also like to thank Hazel, who encouraged many of us with serious criticism. One presenter at an AEJMC History Division meeting once referred to her as “Hazel the Knife,” because we all knew Hazel would not let us off the hook if we presented sloppy work. But Hazel, like Betty, always had time for anyone interested in research.

    My dissertation adviser, Rita Napier, advised me that the dissertation was not the book and that the only good dissertation was a finished one. Her field was different from mine, but she was an insightful critic and a champion of her students. She taught me the difference between journalistic and scholarly writing and helped me develop a narrative style that gave life to history. The article recently published in American Journalism was begun many years ago under her guidance.

    The late Dwight Teeter helped me secure my first book contract. He was to be lead author on Voices of a Nation. But when life intervened and Dwight didn’t have as much time to devote to the book as I did, on his own initiative, he graciously revised the contract, made me first author and assigned me 75% of the royalties. I hope that all senior authors show the same regard for newly minted assistant professors. When I decided to leave Texas, where Dwight was department chair, to get married to my husband, he wouldn’t let me resign, but gave me a leave of absence instead. He said he just wanted to give me time to make sure I was making the right decision. That was nearly 35 years ago.

    None of us can succeed without the help of others. In other words, we all are in it together. In 1982, Dave Nord and Owen Johnson came to the first presentation I made at AEJMC – despite the fact it was scheduled for late afternoon on the last day of the convention. Owen often organized a crowd to sing happy birthday to me at the annual AEJMC convention, which almost always fell on my birthday. The late Catherine Covert introduced me to a group of women at that same convention, and one of those women, Mary Ann Yodelis Smith, later wrote a letter supporting me for promotion to full professor.  

    One of the people who wrote a letter supporting me for this award, James Baughman, recently died at an altogether too young age. Jim was a kind and supportive colleague and mentor, not only for Wisconsin students and faculty, but also for those of us who interacted with him primarily at annual journalism or history meetings. He always cheered me onward with great good humor and high standards.

    Not only are our mentors important in helping us achieve our goals, but also our students inspire us, force us to stay current, challenge us with their questions and rely on our good judgment and our willingness to support and challenge them. It is our obligation to treat them with respect and good will, to be there for them when they need us, and to let them fly away when they need to become independent.

    It is this circle of being mentored and mentoring—of creating an environment of graciousness and respect—that allows us to create the world of intellectual inquiry important to us all.

    Which brings us back to the present and to the necessity of looking forward. I can repeat the lamentations of how media programs have dropped history requirements in favor of teaching digital techniques and how freedom of speech is in jeopardy and must be defended constantly. These issues are of major concern. These two concerns seem quite different, but in reality they are not. They both speak to the necessity of preserving the freedom of—and the need for—intellectual inquiry. I think that’s what excites many of us about studying the past. We are curious about what happened and when and why. We want to know what implications different events have for the present and future. And we simply revel in following the curious pathways that lead us to our conclusions.

    Some years ago a distinguished Southern historian, C. Vann Woodward, wrote about the meaning of time and place in a slim volume titled Thinking Back. Woodward said, "Much has been made of time and place and ideas as influences on the writing of history.” In this retrospective view of being a historian, Woodward describes how time, place, ideas and audiences influenced the subjects he chose to write about and the questions he chose to ask.  

    In this election year, we are confronted with time and place and the seeming lack of intellectual inquiry. We lament the horse-race media coverage of the elections and wish for more in-depth analysis of issues.  We ask ourselves what questions will emerge from this time and place for historians in years to come.

    Despite current predictions of democratic demise, we know, because we are historians, that some things change while others remain the same, or at least similar. And the democracy probably will survive.

    During the 1884 presidential campaign, the Buffalo Evening Telegraph reported that Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland had fathered an out-of-wedlock child in his youth. There was more than a little doubt about whether Cleveland was indeed the father, but he had supported the child for some years. During the campaign the press pressured Cleveland into admitting his affair with Maria Crofts Halpin, at which point opponents marched in the streets, crying, “Ma! Ma! Where’s my pa?  Gone to the White House, ha! Ha! Ha!” The suffrage press was particularly outraged. A political cartoon depicted Cleveland throwing an angry tantrum while a woman weeps, holding in her arms an infant who cries, “I want my pa.” At the time the cartoon was published the “infant” was ten years old.  

    Two years later, when Cleveland married the twenty-one-year-old Frances Folsom, a woman less than half his age (Cleveland was 49), reporters for the leading newspapers staked out the president’s Maryland honeymoon cottage and tried to peer into the bedroom windows with spyglasses.  

    President Cleveland was outraged, chastising reporters for repeating “ridiculous” stories and writing to the New York Evening Post that the press had “used the enormous power of the modern newspaper to perpetuate . . .a colossal impertinence.” The Washington Post told the president he had no right to consider his public First Lady a mere private citizen, stating that “privacy about a private matter does not suit the American people who, since the advent of modern journalism, have no private matters.

    The rhetoric during the Cleveland campaign could be likened to that of this time and place—but during this time pegged more to social media and the result of everyone having his or her own voice. Perhaps these are the voices we will question when we look back from the future, wondering whether they reflect a certain time and place or whether they misrepresented the true voices of early twenty-first century society.

    Whatever questions arise, we know that our time here—at this moment—will give rise to new historical questions. I hope we will be able to organize the current “noise” voiced through so many avenues and apply a sense of true historical inquiry to better understand the societal climate. Sidney Kobre was one of the pioneers in trying to understand how media are interwoven with society. I hope that this award reminds us all of the importance of his pioneer work.

    This organization—AJHA-- has done much to foster historical inquiry and the teaching of media history. I’ve used materials from the website in my own classes, and I’ve always appreciated the shared wisdom, the guidance of those who have been in the field for a long time, and the enthusiasm and new ideas from the young. I hope that you continue the good work you have carried out over the years and that young historians continue to benefit from your collegial efforts.

    Thank you again. I am very grateful to all of you. 

  • 21 Jan 2017 10:58 PM | Dane Claussen

    The AJHA Margaret A. Blanchard Doctoral Dissertation Prize, given for the first time in 1997, is awarded annually for the best doctoral dissertation dealing with mass communication history.

    An honorarium of $500 accompanies the prize, and a $200 honorarium is awarded to each honorable mention.

    Eligible works should be historical dissertations (either qualitative or quantitative), written in English, which have been completed between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016. For the purposes of this award, a "completed" work is defined as one which has not only been submitted and defended but also revised and filed in final form at the applicable doctoral-degree-granting university by December 31, 2016.

    To be considered, please submit the following materials in a single e-mail to the address below:

    1. A cover letter from the applicant containing complete (home and work) contact information (postal addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses). The letter should express a willingness, should the dissertation be selected for a prize, both to attend the awarding ceremony and to deliver a public presentation based on the dissertation at the 2017 American Journalism Historians Association Annual Convention 12-14 October 2017 in Little Rock, AR.

    2. A letter of nomination from the dissertation chair/director or the chair of the university department in which the dissertation was written.

    3. A single PDF containing the following (with no identifying information):
      • A 200-word abstract.
      • The dissertation table of contents.
      • A single chapter from the dissertation, preferably not exceeding 50 manuscript pages (not including notes, charts or photographs). The chapter should, if possible, highlight the work’s strengths as a piece of primary-sourced original research.
    4. In a separate PDF but in the same e-mail, a blind copy of the complete dissertation.

    To be considered, all identifying information—including author, school, and dissertation committee members’ names—must be deleted from items 3 and 4 above.

    Nominations, along with all the supporting materials, should be sent to

    Questions should be directed to Dr. Jane Marcellus, chair of the Blanchard Prize Committee.

    Deadline for entries is Feb. 1, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

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

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software