Intelligencer is a blog featuring teaching and research essays as well as news about the organization and its members.

To submit member news or suggest a blog topic, contact Intelligencer editor Melony Shemberger.

PDFs of the Intelligencer in its previous newsletter form can be found at the Intelligencer archive. Visit the News page for press releases on the organization's activities.

  • 06 Nov 2018 4:05 PM | Dane Claussen

    The Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference (JJCHC),
    co-sponsored by the American Journalism Historians Association and the
    History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
    Communication, is now accepting submissions for the 2019 conference.

    This one-day interdisciplinary conference welcomes scholars and graduate students with an interest in journalism or communication history. Innovative research and ideas from all areas of journalism and communication history and from all time periods are welcome. This conference offers participants the chance to explore new ideas, garner feedback on their work, and meet colleagues from around the world interested in journalism and communication history in a welcoming environment. Graduate students are encouraged to apply.

    When:  Saturday, March 9, 2019, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Where: Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University 20 Cooper Square, 6th Floor, New York, NY

    Cost: $55 online by Feb. 23, 2019; $65 regular registration (includes
    continental breakfast and lunch)

    Research, research-in-progress, and panel proposals are all welcome. Your proposal should include a 500-word abstract detailing your presentation topic and a compelling rationale as to why your research would interest an interdisciplinary community of scholars. Participants are limited to a single submission per category.

    This year, JJCHC is returning to a new scholarly working group concept
    called “Up to Ten in a Den.” These round-table meetings are designed to
    foster intimate conversation among peers working with similar theories,
    ideas, or methods, or in related subject areas. Scholars are encouraged to
    propose meetings of any time length during the conference day with up to ten participants.

    The deadline for submissions is January 5, 2019. Proposals must be submitted via Easy Chair at:

    For more information, contact conference research co-coordinators Brian
    Creech at or Pamela E. Walck at 

    Follow us!: Twitter: @JJCHCNYC


    Hashtag: #JJCHCNYC

    Find us on the web (including past years’ programs):

    Mark your calendar:

    Meeting Dates: March 9, 2019, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Submission Deadline: January 4, 2019

    Acceptance Notice: February 2, 2019
    Nick Hirshon and Pam Walck
    Conference Chairs
    JJCHC 2018

  • 23 Oct 2018 11:42 AM | Dane Claussen

    The American Journalism Historians Association elected a new second vice president and three new board members during its 37th Annual Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. Aimee Edmondson of Ohio University will serve as second vice president during 2018-19, beginning a three-year tenure which will culminate in her serving as the organization’s president in 2020-21. 

    Elected to the board were Dr. Gerry Lanosga from Indiana University; Dr. Will Tubbs from the University of West Florida; and Dr. Ken Ward from Lamar University. Noting that she would be president of AJHA when its annual convention comes to Columbus, Ohio, in 2020, Edmondson said she was “eager to help continue the important work of the AJHA, especially in advocating for the teaching of media history in our journalism and communications schools.”

    “The work of the AJHA is more important than ever given that our profession has been under such heavy fire from this White House,” Edmondson said. “As media scholars, we must continue to educate our students and the public about the important role of the press throughout our history.”

    AJHA’s new president is Dr. Ross Collins from North Dakota State University, who was initially elected to serve as second vice president in 2016 and served as first vice president from October 2017- October 2018. Dr. Donna Lampkin Stephens from the University of Central Arkansas now serves as first vice president. The new administrative secretary is Dr. Erika Pribanic-Smith from the University of Texas-Arlington, and Dr. Carolyn Edy from Appalachian State University continues as treasurer.

  • 22 Oct 2018 11:38 AM | Dane Claussen


  • 19 Oct 2018 7:00 PM | Dane Claussen

    Scholars representing universities from across North America were recognized for their work on research papers at the American Journalism Historians Association’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier this month.

    Gwyneth Mellinger of James Madison University won the Wm. David Sloan Award for Outstanding Faculty Paper for “The AP and the Negro Identifier: An Ideological Battle for Journalistic Standards.” The runners-up in that category were Patrick S. Washburn and Michael S. Sweeney of Ohio University for “Francis Biddle and the Jennings Case in 1934-35: A Freedom of the Press Complaint that Sucked in Franklin D. Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst, and Heywood Broun” and Debra van Tuyll of Augusta University for “The Transnational Paradigm as a Method of Analyzing Early Colonial American Journalism.”

    The Robert Lance Memorial Award for Outstanding Student Paper went to Natascha Roelsgaard of Ohio University for “‘Let Our Voices Speak Loud and Clear’: Daisy Bates’ Leadership in Civil Rights and Black Press History.” The student paper runners-up were Bailey Dick of Ohio University for “‘We Females Have to be Contented with the Tales of Adventures’: Gender Conformity in Dorothy Day’s Early Reporting” and Sara Browning of the University of Maryland for “Answering the Chinese Question: Print Media’s Responses to 19th-Century Immigration.”

    Roelsgaard also won the Maurine Beasley Award for the Outstanding Paper on Women’s History. Runners-up in that category were Dick as well as Pete Smith of Mississippi State University for his paper, “‘Raising Unshirted Hell’: The Journalism of Norma Fields, State Capitol Correspondent for the Northeast (MS) Daily Journal.”

    Mellinger also earned the J. William Snorgrass Memorial Award for the Outstanding Paper on a Minorities Topic. The runners-up in that category were Browning as well as Linda Lumsden of the University of Arizona for her paper, “Don Sotaco Finds His Voice: Visual Rhetoric and Farm Worker Identity in El Malcriado, 1964-1967.”

    Washburn and Sweeney took home the Wally Eberhard Award for the Outstanding Paper on Media and War. The runners-up in that category were Wayne State University’s Michael Fuhlhage, Tabitha Cassidy, Erika Thrubis, Darryl Frazier, Scott Burgess, and Keena Neal for “Spinning toward Secession: The Interplay of Editorial Bellicosity and Exchange News in the Press before the American Civil War” and Harlen Makemson of Elon University for “From Gibson Girl to Gibson Goddess: The World War II Illustrations of Charles Dana Gibson in Life Magazine.”

    The Jean Palmegiano Award for the Outstanding Research Paper on International/Transnational Journalism went to van Tuyll. 

  • 03 Oct 2018 4:11 PM | Dane Claussen

    (Editor's Note: The paper, "Barry H. Gottehrer and a 'City in Crisis,'" was presented at the AJHA convention in Little Rock, Ark., in October 2017. Earlier this year, The Intelligencer asked its author to share with us how he got interested in this topic, why it's interesting and important, and what else about it his fellow historians might want to know.)

    By Raymond McCaffrey

    While working on a history project that involved a look at the interplay of sports and media in New York City at the end of the turbulent 1960s, I kept encountering a somewhat mysterious figure at the periphery of key events.

    There he was in February 1968, as protestors stormed Madison Square Garden in an attempt to prevent athletes from competing in the 100th edition of a track meet sponsored by the restrictive New York Athletic Club, a protest staged by those who would organize demonstrations at the Olympic Games later that year in Mexico City. There he was months later, in April 1968, behind the scenes as the city's mayor, John Lindsay, tried to keep the peace on the streets of Harlem in the hours immediately after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis. He became involved with events such as the student protests at Columbia University in 1968; the demonstrations that erupted in 1969 after police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and prompted a backlash that has been heralded as the birth of the gay-rights movement, and the so-called “Hard Hat Riot” in 1970, when construction workers clashed with anti-war protestors in lower Manhattan.

    Whenever I looked at a major event in New York City during this era, I generally found this figure about whom I knew virtually nothing: Barry H. Gottehrer.

    So began a research project within a research project, one in which a peripheral character became the subject of a stand-alone paper. For it turned out that Gottehrer, who was commonly identified as a special assistant to the mayor, had emanated from the world of journalism. Moreover, Gottehrer had been a journalist of considerable note – he had won a prestigious George Polk Award for his work on a major investigative series that did a deep-dive into the troubles facing New York City in the 1960s, and ended up ousting the sitting mayor. Gottehrer eventually went to work for the new mayor, Lindsay, not as press officer, but as the coordinator of a task force that attempted to quell civic unrest and violence.  

    Researching the background of such an obscure yet important figure proved challenging. I did not find a wealth of primary-source material waiting. Gottehrer boldly emerged on the scene in the mid-1960s and disappeared into the shadows just as quickly as he appeared. The paper trail revealed that he had gone from the Columbia Journalism School to a job with a small Massachusetts newspaper, the New Bedford Times, then ended up working for a number of national publications, including Sport magazine and Newsweek, before ending up at the Herald Tribune. His work on the award-winning “City in Crisis” series certainly put him on the journalistic map, but his role as Lindsay’s chief peacekeeper earned him much wider acclaim. The New York Times devoted considerable real estate in its Sunday magazine in September 1968 to a profile of Gottehrer, whose job was described as “keeping the city cool.” (A interesting tidbit that had no real place in my paper concerned the identity of the author of the profile: Nicholas Pileggi, who would go on to author a book about organized crime that Martin Scorcese used as the basis for his movie, "GoodFellas," and also eventually marry another famous director, Nora Ephron.)  Yet, by the time Gottehrer was referenced in another New York Times article in 1984, it was clear that the author--the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Lewis--thought he was writing about a faceless Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company executive who had distributed a pamphlet that was sharply critical of the ethical standards of journalists. 

    How did a journalist who had won one of the profession’s highest honors decide to abandon the cloak of objectivity and cross the lines to try to make a difference in government in a bold and distinctive way--and why did that same journalist become a virulent press critic after he disappeared into obscurity? 

    The answers to these questions had not been explored in depth in any research that I could find. But not surprisingly Gottehrer turned up in the margins of some in-depth works of history that focused on Lindsay and New York City during the 1960s, as well as a hefty book about the New York Herald Tribune, which was formed in 1924 and represented the merger of two noble journalistic bloodlines dating back to century before: James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald and Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune

    Ultimately, Gottehrer provided the best primary-source material about himself. There was a memoir, “The Mayor's Man,” which focussed on his years as the city’s peacekeeper, but offered little discussion of his years as a journalist. An early book, a history of the New York Giants football franchise, did little to suggest the investigative prowess that would later be displayed. A scholarly paper titled, "Urban Conditions: New York City,” published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1967, showed his ability as a thinker. Perhaps the best primary-source material was the “City in Crisis” stories, which conveyed hard facts with the kind of strong writer’s voice common at the Herald Tribune, known as a launching pad for such “New Journalism” practitioners as Tom Wolfe. 

    But Gottehrer left that world of journalism behind when he went to work for Lindsay, and just as readily as he retreated from the spotlight when he gave up government work. His name pops up sporadically in the press during a brief time working as a top executive for Madison Square Garden after leaving City Hall; then he effectively disappeared. There was the mention by Lewis in the article about Gottehrer's attack on the press. Then his name only appeared in occasional newspaper or magazine stories looking back at Lindsay and the city he ran during the 1960s. Gottehrer’s professional life was lived in the shadows with scarce clues: lists him working as consultant from 1996 to 1998 for the TV show, Spin City, about a fictional New York City mayoral administration. 

    Finally, when Gottehrer died of pancreatic cancer in 2008, there was an expansive Times obituary, as well as a posthumous tribute entered by a Congressman into the Congressional Record, that tied some of the loose ends together, focusing on the curious story of the award-winning journalist who took to the streets in the 1960s to try to keep the peace. 

    As with any project, I was left wanting to know more about my subject. The trouble is that as I continue to look at sports and media in New York City in 1960s, I keep encountering other figures at the periphery. There is the TV executive who brought “happy talk” to one local TV news station and helped create a nationwide phenomenon. There is the Madison Avenue adman who brought bold images to the cover of Esquire magazine, such as the one showing Muhammad Ali--dethroned as heavyweight boxing champ because of his draft resistance--riddled with arrows like the martyr, Saint Sebastian. And how did Marshall McLuhan end up in the middle of all this as a visiting professor at Fordham University, eventually mulling the significance of the relatively new mass phenomenon, the Super Bowl, after Broadway Joe Namath made good on his guarantee to win one with the New York Jets. 

    In other words, there are too many other stories to tell, too many other figures at the periphery.

    Raymond McCaffrey, Ph.D., is assistant professor and director of the Center for Ethics in Journalism, School of Journalism & Strategic Media, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

  • 24 Sep 2018 7:57 PM | Dane Claussen

    By Joel Thurtell

    I discovered the AJHA in Alumni Updates in the University of Michigan History Department newsletter, History Matters. I did not know there was such an organization. I googled and just joined. I learned of the existence of AJHA while reading a UM History Matters item about me:

    "Joel Thurtell (MA 1968) and Emily Merchant (PhD 2015) published the article 'Gender-differentiated Tarascan Surnames in Michoacán' in the spring 2018 issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. Thurtell writes: The idea for using Mexican parish registers came out a History class I took from Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie in fall of 1969. Almost fifty years ago!"

    You well may be wondering, "What do seventeenth-century indigenous Mexican surnames have to do with journalism?" To help explain, see a 2011 article I wrote for the UM History Department: "Why Historians Make Good Journalists." [available upon request to Intelligencer Editor Dane Claussen] 

    I earned a B.A. in history from Kalamazoo College in 1967. I was awarded a fellowship in Comparative Colonization in the New World at the University of Michigan. I was required to attend weekly discussions at the Institute of Social Research. These sessions promoted scientific history -- a history whose generalizations were based on data analysis rather than the historian's impressions. Prof. Le Roy Ladurie gave me an A+ in his studies course on quantitative methods. I proposed to go to Mexico, find church registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials, and analyze family relations through time. First, I would have to lean to speak Spanish. I went to Mexico, found parish registers, lived with a Catholic priest in a Tarascan village and discovered a secret unknown to historians, anthropologists, priests or anyone: post-Conquest Tarascans preserved their ancient system for tracking genealogy and transmitting everything from personal property to personal identity through a bifurcated structure of name-giving. I saw a means of measuring change over time. A practice like gender-differentiated surnames will evolve over time. One group may retain it. Another may abandon it. By comparing rates of erosion, I can track the retention or loss of indigenous culture in different communities. In other words, I can measure the rate of change -- of assimilation, or lack of it. I am scheduled to read my paper, "Advantage and Disadvantage in Two Tarascan Villages" on November 9 at the conference of the Social Science History Association.

    On returning to Ann Arbor in summer 1971, I found that I had no fellowship. I supported my research by working in the law library and driving taxicabs. My girlfriend joined the Peace Corps and went to Togo, West Africa. I visited her in Togo in fall 1972 and wound up joining the Peace Corps, learning French and supervising school and well projects in northern Togo. On returning from Africa, we were married. We lived and worked on a friend's fruit farm in western Michigan. I did radio reporting for WMUK-FM, the NPR station at Western Michigan University.

    If you want to know more about how I became a reporter, you might read my book, Shoestring Reporter, subtitled: How I Got to Be a Big City Reporter Without Going to J School, and How You Can Do It Too! (I just noticed that Amazon has jacked the price way up. I will have to correct that.)

    In 1978, we lived in Berrien Springs, Mich. My wife was a teacher at the county juvenile home. I was hired over the phone to cover local government meetings in Berrien Springs. I also did features and investigative reporting. My wife wanted to become a doctor. I got a job on the Detroit Free Press in 1984. I retired from the Free Press in 2007. My wife's name was Karen R. Fonde, M.D. She did pre-med, med school and residency at UM and was a professor there until her death in 2015 of Alzheimer's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.

    In 2009, Wayne State University Press published Up the Rouge! Paddling Detroit's Hidden River. Originally, this was a Free Press report on Michigan's dirtiest river. In the midst of production, Knight-Ridder sold the Free Press to Gannett, and the new editor scuttled our Rouge story. What eventually appeared was timid and insipid. I convinced WSUP that we had a book with my writing and photographer Patricia Beck's photos. The book was named a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan in 2011. That was the year that the faculty of Wayne State University named me Journalist of the Year (I think) because of my blogging ( about the trucking magnate who owns the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

    I also broke the story of how California public schools were being bilked by purveyors of a very expensive form of municipal debt known as Capital Appreciation Bonds. I did not receive an award for that work. I was retired. But the California League of Bond Oversight Committees paid my air fare and hotel costs so I could be the featured speaker at its 2013 annual meeting in Sacramento. That work was based on my previous articles for the Free Press in 1993 that described how bond underwriters, bond attorneys and financial advisers were a cartel sucking huge amounts of interest money away from Michigan public schools. As a result of my articles, the Michigan Legislature banned CAB's in 1994. That ban is still in effect. California's Legislature enacted a milder ban in 2012 as a result of my blog posts. Still, Michigan and California are the only states that have taken action to regulate this pernicious form of public debt. Thanks to the Free Press in 1993 and thanks to joelontheroad.con in 2012.

    I also wrote a satire on the news industry: Cross Purposes, or, If Newspapers Had Covered the Crucifixion. I've gotten flak about his book from some J-school profs, one of whom wrote that she would not assign my book in her class because I'm telling her students they don't need her. Indeed, marketing of Cross Purposes has not gone well. Sales are stuck in the high two digits.

    I am looking forward to receiving AJHA journals. I want to see what kind of articles you are publishing. I believe that I could contribute.

    I have taught News Reporting and Writing and Investigative Reporting at Wayne State University. I taught Mexican History at Eastern Michigan University.

  • 24 Sep 2018 3:48 PM | Dane Claussen

    Laura Díaz-Esteve, a  Ph.D. student in History in Universitat Pompeu Fabra, in Barcelona, Spain, reports that she is spending a month doing research in Washington, D.C., and will attend the AJHA convention in Salt Lake City while in the USA. She describes her background and research interests with, “I graduated in Journalism in 2015 and I got a master’s in global history in 2016. Already in my master’s thesis, I showed my interest in journalism history as it dealt with coverage of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide in the Spanish newspaper, El País. Nowadays I am in the second year of my Ph.D. program and my research interests are journalism and imperialism at the turn of the 20th Century.”

    George Garrigues, emeritus, Lincoln University of Missouri and University of Bridgeport, has published Marguerite Martyn, America’s Forgotten Journalist as an ebook through It is available on Amazon, and a print version will be ready soon.

    Information from Marilyn Greenwald’s biography A Woman of the Times, Journalism, Feminism and the Career of Charlotte Curtis (Ohio University Press, 1999) was used in a September 21 New York Times story, “When the Times Kept Women Reporters Upstairs,” about the history of the women’s pages at the Times.

    Mark Holan's piece about American journalist William Henry Hurlbert’s 1888 travels in Ireland was published on “The Irish Story,” a Dublin-based website. The article was drawn from Holan’s 40-part blog serial, "Ireland Under Coercion, Revisited," and included research at Trinity College Dublin.

    Jon Marshall, Northwestern University, co-authored an Op-Ed for The New York Times, “The Myth of Watergate Bipartisanship,” published Aug. 14. Jon collaborated on the column with Michael Conway, who served as counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during its impeachment inquiry of Richard Nixon. Jon also appeared on CNN’s “Newsroom” Aug. 25 to discuss the column and historic similarities and differences between the Watergate era and now.

  • 21 Sep 2018 10:59 AM | Dane Claussen

    By Dianne Bragg, University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa

    Football and fall have finally arrived, but temperatures have still been scorching down South. Many of us are looking forward to cooler weather when we meet in Salt Lake City for the 2018 AJHA National Convention. In Alabama, though, historians have good reason to remain hot under the collar.

    The Dallas Morning News has reported that the Texas State Board of Education recently voted to remove certain historical figures from their curriculum, which means they will also be absent from future textbooks. Their reasoning is that children are required to learn about too many people from the past, and there needed to be some streamlining. They designed a rubric to determine which historical figures would score high enough to remain in the curriculum and who would be removed. 

    After the scores were tallied and the penalties assessed, it was decided that third graders would no longer be forced to learn about one of the most influential and inspirational women in our country’s history, Alabama’s own Helen Keller.

    Like a kicker who missed one too many field goals, she just didn’t make the cut.

    But, Keller, whose story is recounted in plays, movies, and books, isn’t alone. In fact, some would say she’s in pretty good company, as she is joined by the first woman to run for president as the candidate of a major political party. That’s right, the one who actually won the popular vote only to lose the Electoral College. Gender aside, it seems just the civics lesson involved in how our elections work would be enough to keep Hillary Clinton in the history books.

    But, that’s not how they do it in Texas. No, in Texas, history is often influenced by groups such as Texas Values, whose president, Jonathan Saenz, is pleased by the board’s decision to keep textbook passages on Moses’ influence on the Constitution, Arab countries’ responsibility for conflict in the Middle East and the Rev. Billy Graham.

    “In Texas, you don't mess with the Alamo and you don't mess with our Christian heritage. We applaud the majority of the State Board of Education for doing the right thing by restoring our foundational rights and history,” Saenz said in a statement reported by the News. “We are prepared to fight to protect these standards all the way to the end.”

    All of this should give us pause for several reasons, and foremost among them would be the idea that a partisan religious organization would wield any influence in the area of public school textbooks. But, historically, they do, and that’s not just in Texas. In fact, textbook decisions made in Texas often influence and reflect school board curriculums across the country. 

    All said, we are reminded once again about the importance of teaching an inclusive history, one that represents the varied cultural historical heritages of our country. That’s what a public school history education should do in order to teach and inspire American students of all races, genders and religions. Removing women like Clinton and Keller from curriculums that too often are saturated with one historical perspective does a disservice to all underrepresented groups, and especially to their children.

    Sadly, the truth is that many school districts won’t decry the removal of Clinton from the history books. Some will be glad to see her go because they disagree with her politically or just don’t like her. There are a great many men, though, with whom I disagree, say Joseph McCarthy or Robert E. Lee, but they certainly belong in our history books. History is not a popularity contest, no matter what the rubrics say. It’s a record of our past, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    As for Keller, there might be a bit of a backlash. Maybe Texas thinks it’s ok to mess with Keller, but they should be careful with Alabama, on and off the football field.

  • 14 Sep 2018 1:48 PM | Dane Claussen

    The peer-reviewed quarterly journal of the American Journalism Historians Association has awarded its 2018 “Article of the Year” prize to Dr. Tom Mascaro of Bowling Green State University.

    American Journalism’s editors selected Mascaro’s “The Blood of Others: Television Documentary Journalism as Literary Engagement” as the best article to have been submitted to the journal over the last year.

    “I was particularly pleased to have had this article accepted by American Journalism, because it takes documentary scholarship in a new direction,” Mascaro said, “but to have it selected as the Best Article by people I truly admire far exceeded my expectations. I am genuinely honored and thrilled.”

    In his article, Mascaro argues that documentary journalists have been too narrowly defined as strictly journalists.

    Mascaro posits documentarians, like their counterparts in literature, intimately engage with and immerse themselves in the topics they research, which warrants examining documentaries as both acts of journalism and engaged literature.

    Mascaro will be recognized for his work at the upcoming AJHA National Convention, Oct. 4-6 in Salt Lake City.

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