Donna Lampkin Stephens University of Central Arkansas
Go to: Program | Panel Abstracts | Research in Progress Jon Bekken, Albright College, “From Frontier Newspaper to Metropolitan Daily: John Wentworth & The Chicago Democrat” ♦ John Wentworth was editor and proprietor of Chicago’s first newspaper, the Chicago Democrat. The Democrat was the city’s leading paper until the 1850s, when it lost ground to an influx of more commercially oriented newspapers associated with competing tendencies in Illinois’ nascent Republican Party. Wentworth became an important political figure, elected to several terms in Congress, and helped establish the Republican Party in Illinois. Wentworth deftly combined his business and political interests, promoting a development agenda that simultaneously made Chicago a regional powerhouse, advanced his political career, promoted the circulation and revenue of his newspaper, and facilitated his career as a land speculator.
Ulf Jonas Bjork, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, “Race War Flares Up: Chicago’s Swedish Press, the Great Migration, and the 1919 Riots” ♦ This study of the large Swedish-language weeklies in Chicago examines how they covered the city’s African-American community during the latter half of the 1910s, a time when blacks migrated north in huge numbers. In Chicago, the result was that the African-American population almost tripled between 1910 and 1920. Little of that was visible in the columns of the three weeklies, however, with only a handful of items telling readers that blacks were arriving in record numbers. What news there was about African-Americans, moreover, tended to portray them as criminals. Consequently, the riots that shook Chicago in late July seemed to take the editors of the weeklies by surprise. A major explanation for the Swedish weeklies’ coverage was that they relied almost exclusively on the city’s English-language dailies for news that did not concern their own ethnic group and thus mirrored the negative way the dailies portrayed African-Americans.
Dianne Bragg, University of Alabama, “Newspaper Coverage of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Abolitionist Movement in the 1850s“ ♦ As the tumultuous 1850s began, the Abolitionist Movement in the United States gained momentum and began to expand its influence throughout the northern states. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s seminal work, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin“ published in 1852, played no small part in the Abolitionist Movement’s rising success. The book, which was first printed in an abolitionist newspaper, was a veritable boon for the abolitionist cause and helped fuel the expansion of antislavery politics. Stowe’s book, along with legislation like the Kansas-Nebraska Act, inflamed the slavery debate with a passion that would not abate. This paper will examine northern and southern newspaper coverage of the publication of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin“ and the varied responses to it. These reports give a clear indication of the rising tensions of the time and the impact Stowe’s work had on the slavery debate, one that would soon move from words to war.
Vicki Knasel Brown, University of Missouri-Columbia, “Commercial and Religious Press Coverage of the Mormon Struggle in Missouri, 1831-1838” ♦ Shortly after Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the group left its New York roots in search of space to practice their faith in peace. They moved to Missouri in 1831, settling near Independence and Liberty. But conflict rose between the newcomers and those already settled in the area, leading to violence and death. This study examined how selected commercial and religious newspapers represented Mormons and the conflict that ultimately ended when Gov. Lilburn Boggs issued Executive Order #44, which forced the Mormons from the state. Textual analysis drew out five themes—theology, politics and patriotism, theocracy, legal processes and First Amendment rights, and war and conflict—while showing how the selected commercial newspapers portrayed Mormons, how the selected religious newspapers portrayed Mormons, and how coverage differed between general circulation and religious newspapers.
Scott Burgess, Wayne State University, “Essential Allies: How the United Automobile Workers Persuaded African Americans to Join the Union” ♦ This paper examines the propaganda techniques used by the United Auto Workers to recruit African-Americans at the Ford River Rouge plant from 1937 to 1941 through union records, fliers, pamphlets and the twice-monthly UAW newspaper. This marks the first time the UAW specifically directed its recruitment efforts at African-Americans, and content and qualitative analysis of the material suggests the campaign was the first step in the UAW’s involvement in the civil rights movement. In publications aimed directly at African-Americans, the UAW adopted the look of popular African-American newspapers at the time with its use of photographs, testimonials and word choice that the white press would not typically use. Ultimately, the campaign worked and African-Americans joined the strike and became an essential ally for the union.
John Coward, University of Tulsa, “Indian Ideology in The Warpath: Lehman Brightman’s Red Power Journalism” ♦ This research documents the activist journalism of Lehman Brightman and his newsletter, The Warpath, one of several radical Indian rights publications established in the late 1960s as part of the nascent Red Power movement. The Warpath was founded in San Francisco as the official publication for Brightman’s new organization, United Native Americans, Inc., a pan-Indian group that challenged government power and advocated for Indian self-determination. Brightman was a caustic, equal opportunity critic, ridiculing moderate Indians as well as politicians and bureaucrats who did not share his vision of Indian liberation. More importantly, The Warpath fostered Indian pride, attacked stereotypes, highlighted racial discrimination, investigated government abuses, and argued vehemently—if not always successfully—for more political power for American Indians. Thanks to the energy and militant vision of Brightman, The Warpath became an important voice in the struggle for Indian rights during its five-year lifespan.
Mary Carver, University of Central Oklahoma, “Giving Voice to a Movement Through the Pages of the Woman’s Journal” ♦ The Woman’s Journal was the dominant, representative voice for the woman suffrage movement for 47 years. It was developed, financed, and kept in print for the first two decades by Lucy Stone. When the paper began in 1870 there was great division and disappointment in the woman suffrage movement. This essay will explain how Stone used the paper to initiate and support political change during a time when little progress was made in the movement. Stone’s regular contributions to the Woman’s Journal show a leader working to forward a conservative feminist ideology yet still fulfill the operational functions of a movement. This essay examines how Stone fulfilled the functions of long-term movement maintenance through a weekly, national newspaper. Little has been written on long-term movement maintenance, and this research seeks to contribute to our understanding of the many voices required during such a phase of social movements.
Tabitha Lynn Cassidy, Wayne State University, “Come One, Come All: Advertising and Framing of Opening Day at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair in the Chicago Tribune and the New York World” ♦ This paper explores the advertising practices and agenda setting of opening day articles within Pulitzer’s New York World and Medill’s Chicago Tribune during the week leading up to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (April 24-May 1, 1893). Most people are knowledgeable of the fair in the context of its architectural feats, revolutionary inventions, or the serial killer H. H. Holmes. However, few are aware that the exposition nearly took place in New York City. Both primary and secondary sources reveal that New York was bitter about losing the monetary benefits of hosting the event, while Chicago publicly suffered great embarrassment over repeated mishaps during construction and near financial failure. During this time, Gilded Age publishers were shaping American journalism and advertising practices. Analyzing the two newspaper’s opening day articles and advertising for the exposition provides a clearer understanding on how two competing cities handled the nation’s largest event.
Bailey Dick, Ohio University,“Faith as the Basis for Radical Vision: The Reporting of Dorothy Day as a Catalyst for Social Movement” ♦ Journalist and Catholic activist Dorothy Day demonstrated her values through both actions with radical groups outside the conventional structures and norms for women of her time at the beginning of her career, and later through the small, quiet daily acts of radicalism. This paper discusses Day’s understanding of her work as a movement leader and journalist, as well as her place within social, political, and religious contexts evolved over time via her confrontations and recognition by Church and government authorities, her establishment as a leader within her own movement and through her involvement of others in this success, through the Catholic Worker’s establishment as a reputable organization and Day as its voice, as recognized by the mainstream press, and her inward turn toward the end of her personal life. It examines the way Day’s experience as a journalist shaped her writing, activism, personal interactions and understanding of the world.
Wally Eberhard, University of Georgia, “Pulitzer Prize Winner Turned Propagandist: The Korean War Ordeal of Pappy Noel” ♦ Francis (Frank) Noel was a 45-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer when the unit he was reporting from became encircled by North Koreans and Chinese forces near the Chosen Reservoir. When he went in search of ammunition and supplies, he was captured and sent back to ask for the surrender of the unit, a mixture of Marines, Army soldiers and British Marines. This began a 32-month ordeal for Noel, often called “Pappy” by the soldiers he was with because he was about twice their age. The unit, about 270 in all, marched for 10 nights to a prison camp in North Korea, enduring cold, hunger, maltreatment and little or no medical attention for the wounded. But more than a year later, a unique arrangement with a Communist-sympathizing reporter delivered him a 4x5 Speed Graphic plus film and equipment. He became a POW-photographer, overcoming possible charges of collaboration to send photos of fellow prisoners to the negotiating area at Panmunjom where AP colleagues waited. This research developed a clearer picture of Noel’s imprisonment and activities as a proficient but captive press photographer, and examined the role of the photos he took in the propaganda campaign waged by the Communists.
Teri Finneman, South Dakota State University, “The Greatest of Its Kind Ever Witnessed in America: The Press and the 1913 Women’s March on Washington” ♦ More than 1 million women participated in women’s marches in early 2017 to protest the inauguration of new President Donald Trump and to promote women’s rights and civil rights. One hundred years earlier, women across the country also mobilized to protest gender inequality in the United States and an unsympathetic incoming president. This research examines press coverage previewing the 1913 women’s parade on Washington to foster a better understanding of how the press covers women’s activism and social movements in general. Using social movement theory to examine the framing strategies used by the press, this study found an emphasis on motivational and counterframing focused on episodic rather than thematic coverage. This research also builds on prior literature of women in political roles facing pushback from other women, thereby undermining the advancement of women for all of them.
Brendon Floyd, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, “The Worst Kind of Democrats This Side of Hell: John Daly Burk, the United Irishmen, the Federalist Party, and American Identity in the Early Republic” ♦ The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 have been studied through the perspectives of national politics and, more recently, Atlantic history. Neither of these approaches, however, capture the primacy of local politics on these famous, if understudied, acts. These acts have become marginalized as either a draconian reaction of Federalist authority to the emerging rival political party of Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic-Republicans, or the French Revolution’s increasingly radical turn. While this impression may be broadly accurate, it overlooks all historical nuance in its generalization. Upon closer examination, it is clear that the Federalists reacted to a sensitive and timely shift in evolving perceptions of American identity and authority in light of emerging radical ideologies mouthed by immigrant groups, best exemplified by the United Irishmen settling in New York and Philadelphia before and after the failed Irish uprising of 1798.
Elisabeth Fondren, Louisiana State University, “Publicizing Tragedy: The Sinking of the Lusitania as an International News Story” ♦ Few news stories during World War I polarized international opinion as much as the sinking of the R.M.S. Lusitania passenger liner by a German submarine on May 7th, 1915. In Europe and abroad, governments and national media publicized this event to change peoples’ hearts and minds. But how did the American, British, and German mainstream press report the Lusitania attack? And how was the event curated and consumed as an international news story? Within the broader questions of media and propaganda during the First World War, this comparative analysis explores American, British, German and French media coverage (editorials and news stories), during the immediate period (May 7 - May 21, 1915) following the Lusitania attack. The results of this media history show that the international press had not one but many accounts of the Lusitania sinking. The journalistic tone varied from euphoric to nationalistic, neutral, antagonizing, and hostile. The dominant themes that emerged from the primary accounts were a) moral and normative judgements, b) divergent audiences and c) government management of news. This study argues that the sinking of the Lusitania must be considered as a turning point in how WWI was publicized and politicized.
Nicholas Hirshon, William Paterson University, “The ‘Sheer Magic’ of Phillies Jackpot Bowling: A Pioneer in Sports Television” ♦ During an eighteen-month period in 1959 and 1960, NBC broadcast the television series Phillies Jackpot Bowling on Friday nights. The show provided a pioneering format in which professional bowlers could win tens of thousands of dollars for rolling six consecutive strikes in nine throws. With its large payouts, suspenseful formula, blue-collar contestants, and famous hosts, the show played a historic role in changing the perception of the frowned-upon sport and precipitating an era of unprecedented popularity for bowling. Contestants who hit the jackpot made more money in a few minutes on the lanes than many baseball and football stars earned over an entire season, a dynamic that is unthinkable in today’s sports landscape. This study uses two surviving episodes of the series, NBC press releases and internal reports, period newspaper and magazine coverage, and oral history interviews with four bowlers who appeared as contestants.
Debra Jenson, Utah State University, “Echoes of Opposition: The Language of Citizen Action to Save Dinosaur National Monument” ♦ In the 1950s the United States government announced plans for the Colorado River Storage Project, including two dams inside Dinosaur National Monument. Conservation groups formed a coalition and mobilized their publics to fight against the dams. The United States Congress received hundreds of letters and telegrams. This campaign has been called the birth of the modern environmental movement, but it has been largely forgotten in current conversation. Expanding on previous qualitative analysis of the official communication from the coalition, this project is a content analysis of the constituent communication. More than 300 items were coded for themes and terms that had been used by the conservation groups. Results revealed significant similarities between themes and terms used in conservation group communication and constituent letters and telegrams. This campaign can be informative for scholars, communication professionals, and Western historians.
Charles Lewis, Minnesota State University, “This Means War: A Case Study of Caustic Political Copy in the Frontier Press of Minnesota, 1857-1861” ♦ Merciless, soulless, brutal, dull, selfish, slanderous, silly, reckless, mangy, damnable, debased, laughable, outrageous, vain, pathetic, whining, petty, filthy, ludicrous, criminal, windy, brazen-faced, scurrilous, venal, mortifying, heartless, monstrous, bloviating, and last but not least — disrespectful. These and other words were printed in issues of two American frontier newspapers in the late 1850s and early 1860s. They were aimed by editors and contributors at the people, practices and ideas of the political opposition, especially those most responsible for message delivery — the ink-stained wretches themselves. This research details aspects of two competing Minnesota frontier newspapers in the late 1850s through April of 1861 — a period of regional racial conflict, looming national civil war, major economic expansion and venomous political upheaval. The nature and scope of political divisions in frontier-press publications are explored through the Democratic Mankato Record and the Republican Mankato Independent newspapers as case studies.
Kim Mangun, University of Utah, “Florabel Muir, the ‘Newspaperman in Skirts’ (1889-1970)” ♦ Newsweek in 1950 called Florabel Muir “one of the best women reporters who ever covered a local beat in America.” Muir spent fifty years covering Hollywood celebrities for a wide variety of publications that included Photoplay, Universal Weekly, Motion Picture Herald, and the New York Daily News. Despite her longevity in journalism, however, she is only mentioned briefly in books. This qualitative study is the first to explore Florabel Muir’s newspaper career, which began in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1918. The paper focuses on the early years of her profession and her work for the Salt Lake Herald, Salt Lake Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday Evening Post, and Modern Screen. In all, about 200 articles were located in these periodicals and studied in conjunction with her autobiography, Headline Happy, and articles discovered in TIME, LIFE, and Newsweek. This project utilized the historical research method and feminist theory.
Raymond McCaffrey, University of Arkansas, “Barry H. Gottehrer and a ‘City in Crisis’: The Path from Journalist to Peacekeeper in New York City’s Turbulent Streets in the 1960s” ♦ This historical case study focuses on Barry H. Gottehrer, who authored an acclaimed New York Herald Tribune series, “City in Crisis,” about the problems facing New York City in the 1960s, then joined Mayor John Lindsay’s administration to help quell civil unrest in the face of events such as the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. This study considers Gottehrer’s place among journalists who abandoned journalistic neutrality to become active government players. Gottehrer's methods reflected a novel communications strategy in which he tried to avoid press coverage of himself and his associates while working to give media access to disenfranchised people with the understanding that gaining such attention was often the underlying goal of protests and riots. This strategy was employed at a time of a shifting media landscape with the close of numerous newspapers in New York City and the rise of local TV news.
Michael Martinez, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, “Managing the President’s Image: A Comparative Analysis of Visual Journalists’ Access to President Ronald Reagan and President Barack Obama” ♦ On his first day in office, President Obama promised transparency in his administration. What visual journalists faced was one of the most closed administrations in recent years and a White House Photo Office that was in direct competition for the American public’s attention. Through the lens of First Amendment theory, this study explores the watchdog concept of journalism, visual journalists’ ability to record the President’s activities during the Obama administration and the Reagan Administration and what role, if any, presidential photographers may have played in advocating for media access. Specifically, this study uses historical research, legal research and in-depth interviews to compare the role the White House photographers during the Reagan administration and the Obama administration played in facilitating access by the media to presidential activities.
Scott Morton, Catawba College, “Hanoi Hannah and the Anti-War Movement: How the American Print Media Covered a Female Enemy Radio Propagandist Who Exploited U.S. Societal Unrest During the Vietnam War” ♦ Hanoi Hannah was the “Tokyo Rose” of the Vietnam War. Each night she broadcast to tens of thousands of U.S. troops, warning them of certain doom should they continue to fight, and reminding them of the rapidly growing anti-war movement at home. Hanoi Hannah represented a new type of female shortwave propagandist unlike her predecessors in that the American media seemed to take the propaganda element of her broadcasts more seriously than her predecessors. Less media attention was paid to her sexualized personae and her “cooing” to U.S. forces than the arguments she presented, which often involved commentary on the growing anti-war movement and racial strife consuming American daily newspapers and newscasts. This study explores how Hanoi Hannah made use of societal unrest in the United States during the Vietnam War as covered through the American print media, which helped construct the legacy for which she is remembered.
Dante Mozie, South Carolina State University, “Eyewitnesses to a Tragedy: How the Collegian, the Student Newspaper of South Carolina State College, Covered the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre” ♦ On the night of February 8, 1968, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, a town located 90 minutes away from Charleston, state highway patrolmen were stationed at the edge of South Carolina State College, a historically black institution, hoping to gain control of a crowd of unarmed students protesting a nearby segregated bowling alley. Triggered by what they erroneously believed was gunfire aimed towards them, the patrolmen fired into the group, killing three young men and wounding 28 others. Among those covering what became known as the Orangeburg Massacre was the college’s student newspaper, The Collegian. Using textual analysis and the media framing theory, this paper examines how the publication’s staff used their coverage to honor their fallen peers, and to communicate the anger of a campus community that felt betrayed by state lawmakers, and frustrated over what they believed was a lack of accurate news coverage by the mainstream media.
Vanessa Murphree, University of Southern Mississippi, “Universal Localism: Community Radio Station WWOZ, 1980-2006” ♦ New Orleans-based WWOZ, one of the nation’s most widely known community radio stations, serves as a framework to historically review how local culture can establish universal relevance and redefine traditional notions of community while simultaneously creating an established financial base. This paper examines WWOZ’s history, and focuses on technological internet streaming changes that significantly broadened the station’s audience. This research is important because it helps us better understand how non-profit highly localized radio can redefine traditional notions such as that “sense of place” and local culture and then use the internet to serve the interests not only of a defined geographic community but also a defined psychographic and emotionally bonded community. Moreover, by studying WWOZ, we can better understand how local content and technology can be combined to create a world-wide local community that can maintain, preserve, and promote localized culturally relevant music and political and social ideas.
Candi Carter Olson and Erin Cox, Utah State University, “A Mighty Power: The Defenses Employed by Utah’s Women Against Disenfranchisement by the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887” ♦ In 1887, the United States Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act, a law that disenfranchised the women of Utah Territory, even though they had the vote for more than a decade. This act, which was aimed at polygamist Mormons, forced wives to testify against their husbands in court or face prison themselves, and it unincorporated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, leaving Utah’s Mormon-dominant population to watch their churches and ancillary buildings being raided. The women saw the Act as a battle among men that had bridged into their realm to punish them instead. This paper argues that Utah’s women used their public forums, including the Mormon women’s periodical the Woman’s Exponent and an indignation meeting that overflowed the Salt Lake Theater with more than 2,000 people, to speak out as their own best defenders against the indignities heaped on them by this law.
Earnest Perry and Keith Greenwood, University of Missouri-Columbia, “Connecting the Long Struggle: Reflections of Iconic Civil Rights Photographs in Coverage of the Black Lives Matter Movement” ♦ Photographs played an important role in documenting events of the civil rights movement. They also have been important for communicating actions and responses in the Black Lives Matter movement. This visual analysis connects the different periods as part of the long struggle for equal rights. Symbolism and juxtaposition combine to create photographs that not only capture specific events but also stand for the larger issues of the movements. The decisive moments and themes captured in the iconic civil rights images of protestors, confrontations with police and marches of support are present in modern images. The repetition of cultural conventions and expectations in photographs from different eras connect viewers of current images to the past, even if they are unfamiliar with the historic images.
Jason Peterson, Jacksonville State University, “Mississippi’s Forgotten Son: Billy Barton and his Journalistic Battle for Redemption in the Closed Society” ♦ In the summer of 1960, Billy Barton, a junior journalism major at the University of Mississippi, worked as an intern at the Atlanta Journal. Barton, a reporter and assistant editor at the university newspaper, The Mississippian, was considered a promising candidate for the position of editor. However, due to his journalistic presence at an Atlanta sit-in, Barton was misidentified by a Citizens’ Council informant as a participant in the Civil Rights protest and a member of the NAACP. As a result, Barton faced a number of damning accusations through a “whisper campaign” perpetuated by Governor Ross Barnett, the State Sovereignty Commission, and the Citizens’ Council that ruined his reputation within the ideological borders of Mississippi’s Closed Society in an attempt to keep him from the editorship of the student newspaper. In an effort to clear his name, Barton took his story to the press in the Magnolia State, igniting a firestorm of controversy concerning the treatment of the student journalist and challenging the pervasive nature of Mississippi’s white ideology. While Barton’s plight unified the majority of editors in the state, the Closed Society ultimately prevailed. This paper details Barton’s quest for retribution through the pages of Mississippi newspapers.
Patti Piburn, Arizona State University, “Discovering the Arizona Republican Newspaper, 1896-1898: Yellow Journalism in America’s Territorial Press” ♦ Yellow journalism is widely believed to have grown out of a circulation battle between Pulitzer and Hearst in the 1890s. Most scholarship on its inception has been confined to newspapers in large Eastern cities. To date, no study of the period’s journalism has investigated whether elements of yellow journalism were practiced by newspapers in Western states and territories. An examination of the Arizona Republican in the 1890s shows yellow journalism was not confined to the East where it was incubated. In territorial Arizona, yellow journalism flourished. The newspaper possessed cutting-edge printing technology. Needing to attract readers in an area growing in population, it did so with enlarged headlines, attention-grabbing news, and illustrations. Not only did yellow journalism thrive on America’s territorial frontier, but the force which brought on yellow journalism—publishers’ needs to attract readers—was not confined to the East but likely was universal throughout the 1890s United States.
Erika J. Pribanic-Smith, University of Texas-Arlington, and Jared Schroeder, Southern Methodist University, “Manifestos, Meetings, and Mother Earth: Emma Goldman's No-Conscription League and the First Amendment in 1917” ♦ This paper marks the 100th anniversary of Mother Earth editor Emma Goldman’s arrest and her magazine’s suspension under the Selective Service and Espionage Acts, filling gaps in the literature on one of America’s most notorious rebels and First Amendment scholarship. Goldman’s Supreme Court appeal occurred during a transitional point for First Amendment law, as justices began incorporating arguments related to free expression into decisions on espionage and sedition cases. This study analyzes the communications that led to her arrest—writings in Mother Earth, a mass-mailed manifesto, and speeches related to compulsory military service during World War I—as well as the ensuing legal proceedings and media coverage. The authors place Goldman’s Supreme Court appeal in the context of the more famous Schenck and Abrams trials to demonstrate her place in First Amendment history while providing insight into wartime censorship and the attitude of the mainstream press toward radical speech.
Felecia Jones Ross, Ohio State University, “In Plain Sight: How the African-American Covered Extraordinary Women as Figures in the Community” ♦ The purpose of this manuscript is to explore the way African-American newspapers covered the four subjects in the academy award-nominated movie and best-selling book titled “Hidden Figures.” This story about four African-American women whose mathematical knowledge contributed to the success of the space race raises questions about why the public did not know about them. The African-American press is examined because it functions as a chronicler of African-American achievement. Findings show that while these newspapers did not emphasize their contributions to space exploration, they were quite visible in other areas of their lives. These finding raise questions about how readers and the press define what is considered to be valuable information. The study also shed light on the way the press covered women in STEM fields, as well as how it covered the space race.
Thomas Schmidt, University of Oregon, “The Narrative Turn in American News Writing: How Newspapers Adopted Narrative Journalism in the Late 20th Century” ♦ When faced with social, economic, political and technological change in the late 1970s, editors and reporters at American newspapers actively introduced and promoted narrative journalism. Overcoming deep-seated skepticism towards an interpretive approach to news writing, they gradually legitimated the use of narrative techniques in daily news production. A combination of individual efforts and institutional initiative changed newsroom cultures, fostered an interpretive community and created rituals, establishing an alternative way of reporting and writing the news in American newspapers. Eventually, the expansion of narrative journalism challenged the orthodoxy of traditional news reporting, leading to porous boundaries between news and entertainment but also to charges of sensationalism, de-politicization and commercialization. Relying on archival research and examining proceedings of the American Society of Newspaper Editors as well as trade publications, this paper traces and analyzes the emergence of narrative journalism in American newspapers between the late 1970s and the late 1980s.
Chris Stidley, University of Arizona, “The Thalidomide Tragedy: An Agenda-Setting Analysis of Early News Media Coverage” ♦ Starting in the late 1950s, the incidence of phocomelia, a severe birth defect with stunted fetal development of limbs, dramatically increased in dozens of countries. This study explores news media coverage of the drug thalidomide in the year following the November 1961 discovery identifying it as the probable cause. It considers why media coverage was sporadic while the tragedy was coming to light in the United States and Great Britain. It attributes their differences in coverage to dissimilarities in the number of affected families, laws, and government responses. Both nations were slow to address the disaster and initially responded with a focus on public protection through drug safety, with little attention to the victims. The paper uses agenda-setting theory to demonstrate how emotional photograph essays finally focused attention on thalidomide’s young victims in US periodicals.
Pat Washburn and Mike Sweeney, Ohio University, “Grand Jury Transcripts in the Chicago Tribune’s 1942 Espionage Act Case: What Is Missing Is Significant” ♦ In 1942, the government sought unsuccessfully to get an Espionage Act indictment for a story that Chicago Tribune war correspondent Stanley Johnston wrote about the Battle of Midway. While numerous historians have studied the case, one major piece of evidence—the grand jury transcripts—did not become available until late 2016. The transcripts provide little new information; instead, their significance is showing what did not occur. A naval pilot, who saw how Johnston got the information for his story, was not interviewed by the grand jury. This paper examines why he almost surely lied to the FBI, and thus did not appear before the grand jury, and then apparently lied again about the case in 1975. By hiding what he knew, he almost surely saved Johnston and maybe the Tribune from being indicted.
Dominique Trudel, Concordia University, “Revisiting the Origins of Communication Research: Walter Lippmann’s WWII Adventure in Propaganda and Psychological Warfare” ♦ Based on a close study of Walter Lippmann’s correspondence and publications, this paper aims to critically reconsider his legacy in the field of communication. To this end, the author focuses on Lippmann’s involvement in propaganda and psychological warfare activities during the Second World War. Following a succinct overview of the history of the psychological warfare and propaganda agencies, the author successively explores three different aspects of Lippmann’s involvement. First, Lippmann’s contribution to the activities of the Committee for National Morale. Second, the relationship between Lippmann and William “Wild Bill” Donovan–the director of the Office of the Coordinator of Information and the Office of Strategic Services. Third, the author turns to the relationship between Lippmann and Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, and explores Lippmann’s role in the War Department’s Psychological Warfare Branch.
Pamela Walck and Ashley Walter, Duquesne University, “Soaring Out of the Private Sphere: How Flyin’ Jenny and Her Comic Strip Helped Pioneer a New Path for Women’s Work During World War II” ♦ Throughout World War II, newspaper comic strips and propaganda posters presented Americans with not only depictions of major shifts in societal norms, but also helped them accept the dramatic social changes spurred by a total war effort. One historian has argued that pop cultural art, such as comics and graphic illustrations, featuring women in non-traditional jobs did important cultural work during the war years by creating platforms that helped ease societal fears about dramatic changes afoot in the workplace. This research argues that while Flyin’ Jenny and its brave aviatrix, Jenny Dare, was among these hard-working graphic stories—and perhaps even led the charge by predating more popular icons during the war years such as Rosie the Riveter and Wonder Woman—this narrative of a non-traditional woman dominating in a man’s world was softened through the regular use of paper dolls, reader-submitted content and pin-up-like poses.