38th Annual AJHA Convention
Dallas, TX | Oct. 3-5, 2019
From 1935 to 1940, Mary “Molly” Oyama [Wittmer] anonymously penned “I’m Telling You, Deirdre,” one of the most popular advice columns in the Southern California Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) press. Oyama informed readers (mostly women but also men) about the ways they could navigate the expectations of their Issei (first-generation) parents as well as the unspoken norms of middle-class white American society. A content analysis demonstrates that “Deirdre” went beyond other pro-Americanization Nisei journalists by illustrating the “why” and “how” of cultivating friendships with white Americans for the purpose of gaining greater acceptance as Americans and for serving as a “bridge of understanding.” In so doing, Oyama also pushed the generic boundaries of the newspaper advice column by drawing on her personal experiences as well as inviting correspondents to co-author the column to a far greater degree than many other advice columnists.
Publisher Frank Leslie, his wife, and several staff members embarked on a transcontinental railroad journey in July 1877. The lengthy journey across America at twenty miles per hour allowed Leslie’s staff the opportunity to explore the nation’s post-war identity, which they, like other writers, tied to industrial progress and individual initiative. The series’ authors and illustrators adhered to commonly-held beliefs in manifest destiny and Anglo-American superiority in representing that identity. The articles and their accompanying illustrations often reinforced popular stereotypes. The 1877 series also served as one of the last hurrahs for the illustrated press. The invention of the half tone process soon spelled the demise of wood engravings as a source of pictorial reproduction, and the illustrated press as the main source of pictorial news. The lengthy series allowed readers to enjoy, in vicarious fashion, a detailed view of their expansive, swiftly-changing nation, while also experiencing a train journey that many could not afford. The installments also served to inform and instruct the public about the possibilities of western tourism a few years before the massive middle-class tourism boom of the 1880s occurred. The American West was of particular interest to travelers and Leslie’s readers, alike. The region’s vastness, its unusual flora, fauna, and geological features, and its sheer distance from the more populated East Coast fascinated Americans and foreigners. Then, too, western geography was uniquely intertwined in the national mindset with the concept of American exceptionalism. The series offered Leslie’s readers a mix of romantic, mythic, and realistic portrayals that, collectively, depicted and praised American ingenuity and technology and lauded citizens’ hard work and individualism.
This paper illustrates how contempt of court was used to punish criticism and silence civil rights activists and the media from public expression relating to the growing civil rights movement after World War II and through the 1960s. Civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and journalists such as Hazel Brannon Smith, Daisy Bates and John Henry McCray were punished for their criticism of southern courts, part of an unjust legal system that stymied the civil rights fight for decades. This research is grounded in critical race theory (CRT), a framework in legal historical studies focusing on the intersection of society and culture within the judicial system and demonstrating the complicity of the law in upholding white supremacy throughout American history.
News coverage of Senator Joseph McCarthy has long been studied, but less examined is McCarthy’s influence on the development of journalism ethics. Some scholars have asserted that McCarthy had an impact, but relatively few have examined specifically what changed and how that occurred. This paper draws from trade publications and professional magazines to examine how journalists discussed McCarthy coverage. Because the senator routinely attacked journalists, they staunchly defended their freedom. At the same time, journalists critiqued the ethics of their craft. This paper complicates some portrayals of journalists as systematically outwitted by McCarthy’s manipulations until they were eventually able to unmask him as a demagogue. Instead, the McCarthy story was an opportunity to do better work. With this in mind, between 1950 and 1955 journalists reconsidered objectivity and expanded the idea of fairness beyond simple balance and toward a responsibility to interpret and explain facts and convey a fuller truth.
The Black Arts Movement developed concurrently as a counterpart to the Black Power Movement as writers and artists incorporated Afrocentric themes into their work. The most prominent periodicals of the Black Arts Movement was Black World. Using satire, the cartoons in Black World featured intraracial and interracial conversations between African American and White characters that affirmed, criticized, and challenged racial assumptions. These conversations reflect a shift in racial attitudes during the Black Power and Black Arts Movements. This study gives insight into how cartoons were used to address social politics. This analysis involves identification and interpretation of discursive themes of the cartoons. This research will bring to the forefront the voices of the cartoonists who contributed Black World. The scope of analysis includes issues of Black World spanning from May 1970 to April 1976.
This paper examines stories of fugitive slaves and those who aided them in a Black-edited newspaper, Frederick Douglass’s North Star, and the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society’s newspapers, the Signal of Liberty and its successor, the Michigan Liberty Press, from the North Star’s founding in December 1847 through the last issue of the Liberty Press in August 1848. A total of 226 articles involving the flight of fugitives were examined. Three categories of article are analyzed: those emphasizing interracial cooperation in the struggle for slave freedom, those that put Blacks at the center, and those that put whites at the center. White-centric stories featured idealistic appeals and efforts to fight slavery within the bounds of the law. Black-centric stories featured the outrages of slavery and the agency of fugitives. Co-operation stories showed whites taking action to aid “self-emancipated” slaves, thereby answering Douglass’s call for whites to do more to promote emancipation.
Rosser Reeves and the advertising he created at Ted Bates & Company is widely reviled by the advertising community, especially those in the creative class and the advertising press. They have dismissed Reeves’ creative work as pedantic, irritating, and devoid of any creativity. He has become synonymous with bad advertising; a one-dimensional caricature for all that is wrong with advertising. Analyzing Reeves’ personal papers located in the Wisconsin Historical Society archives revealed a much different individual than the one perceived by Madison Avenue creative elites. Reeves had a range of interests and activities away from the grind of the New York advertising scene. He was fascinated with collecting paintings and jewelry. He loved competitive activities, such as chess, yacht racing, and pool. He was an aviator, but he was most connected with writing. His poems, shorts stories, and novels reveal the inquisitive and probing intellect of a Renaissance man.
Chicago Daily News reporter Ruth Russell sailed to Ireland in 1919 as revolution erupted against British rule. She wrote more than two dozen dispatches over four months, later expanded into magazine articles and the 1920 book, What’s the matter with Ireland? Russell’s experience transformed her into a pro-Irish activist who joined at least one Washington, D.C. protest against British rule in Ireland. She also testified before an American commission exploring conditions in Ireland. This paper explores Russell’s vivid accounts of revolutionary Ireland, including sketches of impoverished women and children, at the centenary of these events. It presents important context about the Daily News and key biographical details about Russell. Her private thinking about Ireland and decision to leave journalism in 1921 remain mysterious without the insight of personal papers. Yet her published work and public comments reveal much about this pioneering American woman journalist.
More than sixty years after the death of Senator Joseph McCarthy, his name continues to resonate in the American political culture. The senator attracted a passionate following during his lifetime, and his supporters fiercely defended him following publication of an article by Richard Rovere, “The Last Days of Joe McCarthy,” in Esquire to mark the year anniversary of McCarthy’s death. This analysis of letters to the editor preserved in the manuscript collections of Rovere and Esquirepublisher Arnold Gingrich found that those readers who felt compelled to respond to the article did so to defend McCarthy against those people and groups who they believed had schemed to bring down the senator, to praise McCarthy for leading the critical fight against communism, or to critique the style of journalism practiced by Rovere and by Esquire. These findings demonstrate the ability of conservatives to craft powerful narratives that continue to echo today.
Nineteenth century newspaper editors made statements on a daily basis. Few, however, can lay claim to having made a state. A.W. Campbell Jr., owner and editor of the WheelingIntelligencer for nearly one-half of the nineteenth century, could. Make no mistake, Campbell didn’t achieve such a feat alone; however, he and his newspaper were integral to the improbable realization of West Virginia statehood during the Civil War, at a time when the region was critical to the country’s survival. Campbell contributed far more than just his talents as a writer and editor, he made a statement through his actions, working his political and personal connections to overcome barriers that threatened the success of the statehood movement and the safety of the region. This brief biographical sketch encompasses the years 1855-1863, focusing on examples that illustrate Campbell’s contributions to West Virginia’s beginnings.
As the ratification of woman suffrage made its final journey in August 1920, a cultural shift that would manifest itself in the secretary of state’s unceremonious signing of the Nineteenth Amendment was draining significance from the woman vote. Across the nation, victory had been declared with the pro-suffrage vote in the Tennessee legislature, but in the news-filled days between Tennessee’s vote and the federal enactment, the victory of suffrage was reconstructed. At the heart of the legal and political battle, Nashville’s anti-suffrage newspaper brought states’ rights to the forefront with constitutional objections, forcing the city’s pro-suffrage daily into a defensive position as it tried to hold onto the victory. This narrative analysis of the press construction of suffrage recovers historical meaning by revealing dynamics of racism and sexism that propelled a cultural shift that was instrumental in shaping the role of women in modern America.
Yoichi “Oke” Okamoto was the first official presidential photographer in the White House. He had unrestricted access to President Lyndon B. Johnson and produced a body of work, that not only served its purposed for Johnson during his presidency, but also for historians to be able to study “500 years in the future.” Okamoto’s images provided a behind-the-scenes look at the man who occupied the White House and served at the pleasure of the American people. There are very few people who have access to the inner-workings of the presidency and there is only one person who has the sole job of documenting those activities – the Presidential White House photographer. This paper explores the philosophy that supports Okamoto’s argument for access to the president, outlines the standard he set for others to emulate during succeeding presidencies and analyzes the value his photographs have demonstrated for future generations.
Hays Gorey enjoyed a distinguished collegiate career with the University of Utah campus newspaper before working at the Salt Lake Tribune as a reporter, night city editor, and city editor. In 1949, Gorey won a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University to study economics, government, and history. He was named news editor of the Tribune in 1957, when he also began working as a stringer for Time. In 1965, Gorey joined the magazine’s national political staff and began the second half of his long career. Gorey was one of the most respected journalists of his era. Today, few recall his name. This qualitative paper, the first scholarly work to focus on Gorey, uses framing to examine his collegiate journalistic career during 1938–42. This biographical study also contributes to research on college newspapers, which lend themselves to rich explorations of campus life and journalism but remain largely understudied by communication historians
Existing literature on the relation between media legitimacy and effective political leadership shows the utility of Max Weber’s “charismatic” leader attributes based on a leader’s behavior, his/her political principles, and his/her fidelity to those principles. But few studies so far have considered this relationship between media and charismatic leadership in polarized political contexts. Our examination of Governor George Wallace’s paradoxical relationships with the Birmingham News in 1960s Alabama showed no legitimation of his leadership either during his 1962 campaign for office or during his first term as governor -- despite his high popularity and despite News support for his segregationist political platform. The paper strongly opposed manipulation of racial divisions for political gain because of the negative implications of such conflict for Alabama’s future prosperity and for execution of the rule of law. The News instead supported Wallace’s opponent, Ryan deGraffenreid, for promoting unity of all Alabamians; and ascribing to him charismatic attributes of honesty, competence, and credibility.
Seven days after the Greensboro, N.C. sit-in demonstrations began to protest Woolworth’s segregated lunch counters, students from North Carolina College, a historically black college, and students from Duke University participated in a similar protest of their own at a store in downtown Durham. There to cover it, and the other protests and related events that followed in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, were the student newspapers of the predominately white and black colleges in the region. This paper examines the frames these newspapers used to cover the protests that occurred during the spring 1960 semester, and how it compared to the mainstream and traditional black newspapers in the same region.
Editorial cartoons are a reflection of the attitudes of society and serve as a lens through which events can be succinctly viewed. As the chief cartoonist for The Washington Post for more than 50 years, Herbert Block, or Herblock, portrayed a large span of political and economic events. While his drawings featured presidents in their best light and their worst, few were given as much attention as President Richard Nixon and President William Clinton, who each faced the gauntlet of public outrage in the wake of their respective scandals. As the only two American presidents in recent history to have gone through the impeachment process, a comparison of Herblock’s portrayal of the two offers insight into the difference in public opinion and political ideology that resulted in Nixon’s resignation and Clinton’s acquittal.
On the night of November 14, 1917, 31 suffragists and members of the National Woman’s Party (“NWP”) were taken to Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia and tortured and beaten. This so-called “Night of Terror” captured national headlines at the time and has been memorialized through digital sites today. This article examines versions of the Night of Terror from the NWP’s official newspaper, The Suffragist, national newspapers of the day gathered from the Chronicling America database, and modern digital memorials of the event to understand the ways that the mediated telling of events create the fractured popular memories that are retold as the authoritative version of events. In the case of the Night of Terror, the NWP’s media strategies appealed strongly to pathos and captured public imagination then and now, making these retellings the narrative embedded in history as the authoritative version.
In the fall of 1968, Wilbert Jordan, Jr. made history as Mississippi’s first black collegiate athlete when he walked on to the previously segregated University of Southern Mississippi basketball team. Despite the integration of colleges and universities in Mississippi in 1962 and the 1963 elimination of the state’s unwritten law banning segregated athletics, sports in the Magnolia State had yet to welcome an athlete of color. Jordan’s historical addition to the Southerners and his status as the state’s first black athlete was ignored by the press, particularly the local Hattiesburg American, which was owned by the segregationist Hederman family. This paper examines the newspaper coverage of Jordan’s first two years on the USM basketball team and argues that the silent approach taken by Mississippi’s journalists was indicative of a white elite desperate to maintain a level of power during an ideological shift in the Magnolia State.
Erika Pribanic-Smith, University of Texas at Arlington, and Jared Schroeder, Southern Methodist University, "Breaking the White Circle: How the Press and Courts Quieted a Chicago Hate Group, 1949-1952"
Joseph Beauharnais’s story illustrates the dilemma created in cases of hate speech. The government and courts of Illinois decided that in Beauharnais’s case, it should not be protected. Just more than half of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed—in a case that has been cited more than 300 times. After reviews of the societal and legal environments in which this story occurred, this paper examines Beauharnais’s White Circle League literature, the means Chicago’s press and other organizations used to counter it, the legal ramifications of Beauharnais’s rhetoric, and the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling. The authors supplemented resources from a substantial FBI file with additional government documents, newspaper articles, and court cases. This paper reveals that many in Illinois—and some Supreme Court justices—considered the racist nature of Beauharnais’s expression intolerable. Furthermore, this paper demonstrates the role of Chicago’s alternative press in shutting down the White Circle League.
This study peers into the past to address the laxity of definition of the term “constructive journalism.” This analysis found an association existed in the minds of thought-leaders, journalists, and the public between the concept of the constructive and the idea of service to society. It found that (1) the idea of service to society arose in contravention to the pernicious aspects of the profit-driven press during the rise of the commercialized newspaper; (2) that the concept of the constructive applied to the newspaper was an argument for the imposition of a new form of journalism intended to better address the societal transformations and the accompanying aberrations of the age; and (3) that journalism yoked to the concept of the constructive has an ethical and correlative resonance of obligation that offers direction to the renewed calls for “constructive journalism” in this current era of social transformation driven by the digital arena.
The purpose of this manuscript is to explore the negotiation of Carter’s image by Carter’s imagecraft apparatus and the news media during (in)visible primaries, and this examination involved analysis of archival materials; oral histories and in-depth interviews; and select news media texts from January 1 to December 31, 1975. The manuscript contends billing himself as a progressive leader from the down-home, New South, the peanut farmer from Plains traveled across the country, hobnobbing with influential powerbrokers of showbiz politics and pedaling his antiestablishment message of moral reform to grassroots leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida, and under new rules of U.S. politics, the “Ramblin’ Man” achieved success by incorporating his showbiz-inspired grassroots media campaign to garner electoral name recognition accompanying national news media exposure, and future presidential aspirants followed his lead in coming years while party regulars late to recognize modern techniques of presidential politics struggled to survive.
The objective of this paper is to review a case in which a newspaper focused on a breaking story, ignoring moral and ethical standards, resulting in the lynching of 16-year-old Roscoe Parker. Through a thematic content analysis of sixty-one newspaper articles, following Roscoe Parker's lynching from 1893 to 1894, this paper analyzes the press’s role as not simple bystanders, but a key social voice which accepted the practice of lynching in America.
Social protest was a defining experience on many college campuses in America during the 1960s. But while campuses in the North and West became well-known for student activism, campuses in the South experienced no such notoriety. This project compares local newspaper coverage of violent campus protests in Madison, Wisconsin, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. While overage of Madison’s unrest was more nuanced, the Tuscaloosa newsroom adhered strictly to a guard-dog approach despite a mixed response from readers, suggesting that reporters in Alabama may have been slower to respond to social change than their audience was.
Only recently have cultural historians begun to examine the political content of Bert Williams’ theatrical work. However, this study seeks to examine how coverage of increased participation in the arts by Williams and his collaborators made a critical contribution to the development of entertainment journalism in the black press at the turn of the 20th century. Black participation in the theater was a component of race leaders’ growing emphasis on the concept of “celebrity” and its ability to create positive images and shape politics regarding race. What spurred black publications’ interest in including entertainment as a prominent section for their readers? How much did shifts in mainstream news reporting influence the amount of attention and interest black journalists chose to allot to the entertainment culture? Did emphasis on finding positive popular culture role models minimize black leaders’ fears of perpetuating inappropriate images of the race.
In 1943, after having ordered the detention of thousands of Japanese-Americans, the Roosevelt Administration allowed the American-born children of Japanese immigrants to volunteer for military service. The resulting 442ndInfantry Battalion became the most decorated unit of the Second World War and its members grew into beloved, iconic figures of patriotism and courage. This paper examines the portrayal of the Nisei during and after the war in both print and film. While celebrations of the Nisei were frequent and warranted, coverage and memorialization typically glossed over the racism and jingoism that led to an environment in which Americans were robbed of their liberty. Drawing on scholarship about scapegoating and public navigation of tragedy, the authors argue portrayals of the 442ndconcurrently honored the Nisei and allowed society to forgive itself, in regular intervals, for transgressing against its purported values.
As a popular columnist for one of the largest black newspapers in the country, Evelyn Cunningham felt the palpable, unrelenting pressure of representing her race in the press. It was the inescapable lens through which she saw the world and filled her with guilt whenever she turned a blind eye to it. On the surface, Cunningham was an unlikely feminist and race crusader. In her Pittsburgh Courier column, “The Women,” published between 1951 and 1955, she was more likely to tackle topics ranging from how passé bridal showers had become to the challenges of navigating a dying romance. But as this study found, upon closer inspection, her women’s column reveals a mid-century writer well ahead of her time—especially when it came to embracing her feminism, sexuality, and the world around her nearly a decade before white peers ushered in the second wave of feminism.
The creation of 1964 Civil Rights Act banned sex discrimination in the workplace. Beginning in the late 1960s, U.S. newswomen began forming coalitions to fight against discriminatory practices at Newsweek, the New York Times, and several other publications. This study asks and answers what press coverage exists from these class-action lawsuits. Feminist theory is applied to these findings.
In 1942, the Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. near Chester, Pennsylvania, expanded by creating a fourth shipyard that was entirely staffed by blacks. They did the same jobs and received the same pay as both white and black workers in the company’s other three yards. This raised a unique question: Was this arrangement a true embodiment of the much-abused concept of “separate but equal” as established in Plessy v. Ferguson? This paper examines how the NAACP and the black press viewed the shipyard’s employment arrangement as well as the pressures on the black press during World War II. Somewhat oddly, the nation’s largest-circulation black paper, the outspoken Pittsburgh Courier, took no stance on the yard even though its powerful columnist, George Schuyler, assailed it.
When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created at the height of the Cold War in 1958, it was charged with informing the public of its activities. Throughout the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions (1958-1972), the image of the mid-century astronaut-hero emerged. Despite the long-standing astronaut-hero myth, recent films such as Hidden Figures (2016) and Mercury 13 (2018) have given credence to the little-known contributions of women to the space agency. This paper examines the mythology of the mid-century astronaut-hero in media artifacts from these missions using frame and discourse analysis to better understand the creation and lasting presence of this gendered mythology, despite the contributions of women throughout the agency’s history. The frames identified include the hero frame, family man frame, missing frame and “women’s place” frame, which have all perpetuated NASA’s gendered media mythology—particularly the mid-century astronaut-hero.