Intelligencer is a blog featuring thoughtful essays on mass communication history teaching and research as well as highlighting the work of our members.

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  • 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.

  • 21 Jan 2017 9:52 PM | Dane Claussen

    The History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication is soliciting entries for its annual award for the best journalism and mass communication history book of 2016.

    The winning author will receive a plaque and a $500 prize at the August 2017 AEJMC conference at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile Hotel in Chicago, where the author will give a short talk about the experience of research and discovery during the book’s composition.

    The competition is open to any author of a media history book regardless of whether he or she belongs to AEJMC or the History Division. Only first editions with a 2016 copyright date will be accepted. Edited volumes, articles, and monographs will be excluded because they qualify for the Covert Award, another AEJMC History Division competition.

    Entries must be received by February 3, 2017.  Submit four copies of each book -- along with the author’s mailing address, telephone number, and email address -- to:

    John P. Ferré

    AEJMC History Book Award Chair

    Department of Communication

    310 Strickler Hall

    University of Louisville

    Louisville, KY  40292

    Please contact John Ferré at 502.852.8167 or with any questions.

  • 21 Jan 2017 9:47 PM | Dane Claussen

    By Teri Finneman and Will Mari

    AEJMC History Division Membership Co-Chairs

    As media historians, part of our mission is to emphasize the importance of what we do to our colleagues in journalism studies and out in the professional world. To that end, we’re calling for participation in the second annual Media History Engagement Week, slated to start April 3, 2017. 

    Like National News Engagement Day, Media History Engagement Week will not only raise awareness about the importance of our field, but also expose students to the messiness and continuing relevance of history to the present. 

    Last year, participants from 20 states and six countries took part in the #headlinesinhistory Twitter discussion, with dozens of students tweeting images, videos and text from ongoing research projects, assignments and classroom activities. 

    While there’s a serious benefit to getting students and faculty friends to tweet about media history, it’s also fun. 

    We’d like to give you some basics about the media-history-engagement initiative and ideas you could include in your spring syllabus.

    The main mission of the week is to promote journalism history during the week of April 3-7. The Twitter hashtag is #headlinesinhistory. We hope campuses across the country (and even the world) will be tweeting #headlinesinhistory to share why journalism history matters and/or share class projects about journalism and communication history.

    Media History Engagement Week can make #headlinesinhistory a national conversation. Here’s a few concrete ways to make that happen: 

    • Collaborate with other colleagues and their students across the country on a specific project or assignment.
    • Have your students research the archives of their campus newspapers. Post/share images of front pages or something visual (cartoons are especially fun).
    • Have students search for family history in newspaper archives

    If students are doing an oral-history project, have them tweet about the most surprising thing they found

    • Organize a movie night on campus of journalism history-related movies (you could open this up to the general public, too). You might show one movie and then have an open forum discussion after.
    • Have students read the First Amendment on campus or from collections of historic journalism.
    • Have students research and then profile of a significant journalist/photojournalist or a publication. A time frame could be specified (anyone between 1900 and 1980, etc.). The end result could be a paper presentation or a poster presentation. If poster presentations are the desired medium, the instructor could arrange to have the posters displayed as an exhibit for the public and campus to enjoy.
    • The above doesn't have to be an assignment. It could be a contest sponsored by the journalism department/school/college, with awards of some kind given for the best projects.
    • Digital curated project that focuses on a person or an era, with Storify or some other digital/online platform used. A 10-minute slideshow could accompany it.
    • Plan for a trip to a local archive or museum and have our students share via Instagram or Twitter (or both) some of the things they’ve found. For those of us without the means or institutional support to put together an archive field trip, the assignment could be configured for digital archives.
    • Scavenger hunt with media-history clues.
    • Organize a class field trip to your local media outlet and have students dig through archives there.
    • Turn class into a game of Jeopardy! or journalism-history trivia with prizes.
    • Create a museum space in a department foyer or hallway within the department for students to showcase journalism history.
    • Create a vintage photo Instagram page. Partner with a local newspaper and pull tons of their early-to-mid twentieth century photos and create a fun Instagram page to share with the community.
    • Assign students to find out how area media are preserving journalism history (or not) at their outlet.
    • Create an activity to do with local elementary, junior high or high school students (might be good to get your College of Education colleagues on board, too).
    • Partner with a local media outlet and do oral histories with their staff.
    • Plan an evening talk about your research that is open to the general public in your community.
    • Get prominent historians on board to do a live Periscope, Facebook Live, or a live Twitter Q&A with students.
    • Engage with your English department colleagues to see if any of them are up for an interdisciplinary media-history project

    If any of you are interested in speaking during live Twitter Q&As or video chats with students, please let one of us know at or

    If you plan to participate and/or you have some more ideas to add to this list, please either email one of us or post in the AJHA or AEJMC History Division Facebook pages. We would love to note which campuses plan to participate so we can watch for each other and work together in early April. 

    Let’s continue to make media history relevant this spring with Media History Engagement Week!

  • 21 Jan 2017 9:37 PM | Dane Claussen

    Brian Gabrial of Concordia University, Canada, was awarded the Hazel Dicken-Garcia Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Journalism History at the 2016 Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil war, and Free Expression at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

    * * *

    Linda Lumsden of the University of Arizona published a profile of suffrage martyr Inez Milholland in the 'Longform" section of Lumsden's biography of Milholland, who died 100 years ago on Nov. 25 while campaigning for votes for women in California, came out in paperback this fall to commemorate the centennial of her death. Lumsden also conducted a livechat  on the article for TPM. The article link is (get a free three-day trial subscription to read the full article):​

    * * *

    Ellen Gerl of Ohio University published the article, ”'Out of the Back Rooms': Physician-publicist Virginia Apgar Makes Birth Defects a Popular Cause,” in the Fall 2016 issue of  Journalism History. An earlier version of the article was presented at the 2015 AJHA conference where it was a runner-up for the Maureen Beasley Award for the Outstanding Paper on Women’s History.

    * * *

    Owen V. Johnson of Indiana University gave the paper, “Light & Shadows:  Living and Doing Research in Communist Czechoslovakia, 1972-1989,” at the annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, Washington, D.C., on November 18, 2016. He also published two articles in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History: “Wrestling with Fame:  Ernie Pyle & the Pulitzer Prize,” 28:2 (Spring 2016), pp. 46-53 [with Holly Hays]; and “Keep Them Smoking:  The Ernie Pyle Cigarette Fund,” 28:2 (Spring 2016), pp. 54-55.  

    * * *

    Dane S. Claussen of Thiel College has been nominated as one of two candidates for Vice-President of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). The election will be held in Spring 2017. If he is elected, he will take office on Oct. 1, 2017. Claussen would then automatically become President-Elect in 2018-19; President in 2019-20; and Past President in 2020-21. He would be a member of AEJMC’s Board of Directors during all four years. Claussen’s opponent in the vice-presidential election is David Perlmutter, Dean and Professor, College of Media and Communication, Texas Tech University.

    Claussen is probably best known within AEJMC for serving as Editor of the quarterly scholarly journal, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator (J&MCE) from March 2006 until September 2012. In addition, he has served as Head of the AEJMC’s History Division; Mass Communication & Society Division; Magazine Media Division; Media Management, Economics & Entrepreneurship Division; and LGBTQ Interest Group, among other division roles. Claussen also has been an elected member of AEJMC’s Teaching Committee; appointed member of its Publications Committee; and ex officio member of its Diversity Task Force.

  • 21 Jan 2017 9:26 PM | Dane Claussen

    From Webmaster Erika Pribanic-Smith and

    History in the Curriculum Chair Gerry Lanosga:

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

  • 21 Jan 2017 9:23 PM | Dane Claussen

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

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

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

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

    Deadline:  February 1, 2017 

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

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

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

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

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

  • 21 Jan 2017 8:54 PM | Dane Claussen

    We Can Help Protect the First Amendment

    By Dave Vergobbi

    “Democracy depends upon journalism.”

    -- The Society of Professional Journalists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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