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.

  • 09 Jul 2018 9:16 PM | Dane Claussen

    (Editor's Note: The Revolution was televised, but not this part..... Thanks to Mark Feldstein, University of Maryland--College Park, for bringing this to our attention.)

  • 09 Jul 2018 8:57 PM | Dane Claussen

    By Dianne Bragg

    University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa

    My thoughts for this particular column were pretty straightforward.

    It’s July, but it feels like August.

    Soon, though, it will be October and we will be wearing jackets in Utah.

    A quick reminder to check the AJHA website for convention details.

    A hopeful note that some of us will be together in D.C. for AEJMC. 

    And, oh yes, best wishes for a happy 4th of July. 

    Just a usual mid-summer laundry list.

    But, the usual this summer has changed.

    When a man armed with a gun chose to murder five people at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., what has become usual hit really close to home for many of us. 

    The gun violence in our country has taken on surreal proportions, with no sign of it abating any time soon. It has become our usual.

    The vilification of journalists has reached extraordinary heights.

    The Oval Office historically has not always been pleased with the press, despite what is written in the Constitution. This is not the first time those who hold power have gone after journalists who try to hold them accountable.

    At some point, though, in the 21st century, it would seem that our leadership would condemn violent rhetoric in no uncertain terms. But, they do not. This, too, has become our usual.

    As a columnist I follow wrote last week, we seem to forget that words matter.

    Might this murderer have picked up a gun no matter what? Maybe.

    Or, did the constant barrage of words calling journalists evil, unpatriotic, criminal, and “fake,” along with encouragement for physical violence against them, possibly push him over the edge? This, too, is our usual.

    What do we tell our students who are learning the journalism craft? 

    How do we teach them to do their jobs as they withstand such an environment?

    I have a son whose first journalism job was with a Maryland newspaper and who now works for another paper in the area. We all have friends or family in the field. What do we say to them? How do we support them in this new usual?

    As historians, we try to pay attention as we look to the past to help us navigate the present. And, for an example of what we hold dear, we need look no further than the Capital Gazette staff who, while in shock and grief, put out their paper.

    I think no matter how bleak it may seem, our best journalists will continue to stand up, call out questions and speak the truth. That is our usual.

    Because, in the end, the pen really is mightier than the sword.

  • 06 Jun 2018 7:34 PM | Dane Claussen

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

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

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

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

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

    Deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. Aug. 15.  Nominations may also be made from the floor.

  • 01 Jun 2018 11:35 PM | Dane Claussen

    Dale L. Cressman, associate professor of communication at Brigham Young University, has won the first annual Michael S. Sweeney Award for his scholarly article in Journalism History, “News in Light: The Times Square Zipper and Newspaper Signs in an Age of Technological Enthusiasm.”

    The award, which honors the best article published in the quarterly journal over the past year, was created by the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) to honor the outgoing editor.

    Mike Sweeney, since 2012 editor of the independent peer-reviewed journal at Ohio University, announced two years ago that he wanted to turn over Journalism History to the Division and to a new editor. The reason was two-fold, he told the division with frankness: he was being treated for a Stage IV cancer and the journal’s self-publication was no longer financially sustainable. 

    Sweeney, who was also the incoming head of the History Division at the time, appointed an ad hoc task force to examine having the Division take over the journal. The mission that Sweeney initiated has now cleared the way for the Division to publish the journal for its nearly 300 members and institutional subscribers. The Division has also named the next editor, Gregory A. Borchard of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. 

    In appreciation of Sweeney’s tenure as editor and his actions to ensure the journal’s future, the Division created the Michael S. Sweeney Award. The editor, in this case Sweeney himself, nominates four or five top articles from four issues over a recent 12-month period. The winner is selected from among the nominated articles by the Division’s three officers and is honored with a plaque at the AEJMC conference in August.

    The other nominees for this first award were Juanita Darling, for “Jewish Values in the Journalism of Alberto Gerchunoff”; Michael Fuhlhage, for “To Limit the Spread of Slavery: A Boston Journal Correspondent’s Multiple Roles in the Kansas Free State Movement”; and Debra Reddin Van Tuyll, for “Protecting Press Freedom and Access to Government Information in Antebellum South Carolina.”

    Cressman’s winning article, “News in Light,” traces the evolution of signs posted outside newspaper buildings, notably in New York City, feeding a public appetite for major news events. Electricity and technological advances, under competitive pressure among newspapers, led in 1928 to the “moving letter” sign around the New York Times building known as “The Zipper.” Cressman uses archives from The New York Times to document fights over the patent, but also theorizes that this history prefigured TV news consumption in the way it transformed readers into a collective audience.

    The Division officers, Doug Cumming, Erika Pribanic-Smith and Teri Finneman, were impressed by the article’s insight, scholarship and readability. 

    Cressman, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Utah, was formerly a television news editor and producer in Salt Lake City, Green Bay, Wis., and Waco, Texas, and an editor at the Canadian Broadcasting System.

  • 21 May 2018 4:08 PM | Dane Claussen

    The American Journalism Historians Association Board of Directors has appointed Rich Shumate to the position of Web Editor.

    Shumate will assist with the AJHA website over the summer and will take over the Web Editor position officially in October.

    An award-winning journalist and media history scholar, Shumate is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University.

  • 12 May 2018 4:29 PM | Dane Claussen

    The annual Covert Award in Mass Communication History has been won by Andie Tucher, a Columbia Journalism School professor who directs its Communications Ph.D. program. Tucher won the 34th annual award for “‘I believe in faking’: The Dilemma of Photographic Realism at the Dawn of Photojournalism,” Photography & Culture, 10:2 (June 2017), 1-20.

    The piece was selected from 8 articles nominated. The judges commended Tucher for her “spectacular” scholarship on an important topic, supported by “deep research and original analysis.” 

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

    The Covert Committee includes some long-time members, among them Covert’s colleagues, as well as the current and past heads of the History Division. Committee members this year were: Douglas Cumming, Washington and Lee University; Kathy Roberts Forde, University of Massachusetts; Richard Kielbowicz, University of Washington; and Nancy Roberts, Chair, State University of New York at Albany. 

    The History Division will present the $500 award to Tucher at its Members' Meeting at the annual AEJMC convention in August, this year in Washington, D.C.

  • 12 May 2018 4:25 PM | Dane Claussen

    The 2018 AEJMC History Division Book Award, honoring the best journalism and mass communication history book published in 2017, has been won by Fred Carroll for Race News: Black Journalists and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Twentieth Century (University of Illinois Press).  Carroll is a lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy at Kennesaw State University, where he teaches courses in U.S. history and African-American History.

    A panel of three distinguished media historians chose Race News from a field of 29 entries. Race News is an exhaustive archeological dig that reveals the ways that ideological, political, and commercial dynamics of progressive politics shaped how black journalists reported news. The judges praised Carroll’s scholarship and accessibility, saying that Race News “should appeal to anyone with an interest in black culture, dissident and mainstream journalism, and the social and political forces that shaped the American Century.”   

    Carroll, who will receive a plaque and a cash prize, has been invited to speak about his work during the History Division members’ meeting on Tuesday, August 7 from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention in Washington, D.C.

  • 12 May 2018 3:57 PM | Dane Claussen

  • 01 May 2018 3:16 PM | Dane Claussen

    The American Journalism Historians Association has named the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Kathryn J. McGarr, formerly of Princeton University, as the winner of its annual Margaret A. Blanchard Doctoral Dissertation Prize.

    AJHA has granted the Blanchard Prize to the best doctoral dissertation dealing with mass communication history annually since 1997. “I'm always amazed at the diverse possibilities that can be included under the broad umbrella of media history,” Jane Marcellus, chair of the Blanchard Prize Committee, said. “The Blanchard Dissertation Prize competition continues to bring in excellent work from students at top universities, including those whose Ph.D.s--like our top winner--are not in journalism and mass communication per se but whose work intersects with the field. The members of the committee work carefully and diligently to evaluate entries; they deserve our thanks.”

    McGarr and three runners-up will present their research at AJHA’s Annual Convention Oct. 4-6 in Salt Lake City. McGarr’s dissertation, “Gentlemen of the Press: Post-World War II Foreign Policy Reporting from the Washington Community,” was chaired by Julian Zelizer at Princeton.

    Joining McGarr will be Jeremiah Favara and Thomas Schmidt, both of the University of Oregon, and Willie R. Tubbs, formerly of the University of Southern Mississippi, now at the University of West Florida. Favara completed “Recruiting for Difference and Diversity in the U.S. Military” under the direction of Carol Stabile. Schmidt’s “Rediscovering Narrative: A Cultural History of Journalistic Storytelling in American Newspapers, 1969-2001” was chaired by Gretchen Soderlund, and Tubbs’ “Forward Myth: Military Public Relations and the Domestic Base Newspaper 1941-1981” was chaired by David R. Davies. 

  • 27 Apr 2018 12:55 PM | Dane Claussen

    Scholars interested in the American Journalism Historians Association’s annual Joseph McKerns Research Grant Awards have until June 1 to submit all required documents to the appropriate committee. McKerns grants are intended to provide research assistance and to recognize and reward the winners. Up to four grants for up to $1,250 each will be rewarded upon review and recommendation of the Research Grant Committee.

    All current AJHA full members with a minimum of three years' membership at the time of application are eligible. However, the applicant must be the principal investigator of the research project and the research project must be related to mass media history. Awardees are expected to continue their membership through the grant period, and to submit a report discussing the method, findings, complications, and significance of their research to the organization’s newsletter, the Intelligencer, by Sept. 1, 2019.

    To be considered for a McKerns grant, AJHA members must submit:

    • An application form.

    • A one-to-three-page overview of the project, including a budget (which should include a listing of amount and sources of other support, if appropriate), timelines, and expected outlets for the research.

    • If appropriate, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from the applicant's university.

    • A shortened curriculum vitae (no more than three pages). Grant applications must be submitted via email to Research Grant Committee Chair Erin Coyle at Materials may be submitted as PDF files or Word documents.

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