39th Annual AJHA Convention
Virtual Conference   |   Oct. 2-3, 2020

Convention contacts

Convention Coordinator
Caryl Cooper
University of Alabama

Registration Coordinator
Ken Ward
Lamar University

Program Coordinator
Mike Conway

Indiana University

Paper Abstracts

Jon Bekken, Albright College, "Relations of Production at The Chicago Defender: Union-Busting, Contingent Labor & Consolidation in the Black Press."

This paper examines labor relations at the Chicago Defender from the 1920s, when the Defender established its own typesetting and printing facilities, through the 1970s, when these functions were contracted out and the newly reorganized workforce fired.  Throughout this process, Defender management fought unionization, demanded the right to dismiss employees at whim, and generally pursued profitability on the backs of its workforce. This disconnect between the newspaper’s ostensible mission and its treatment of its workforce may have undermined the paper’s image and effectiveness, especially as a result of the high turnover resulting from low wages and terminations of employees who sought to assert their rights.

Susan Bragg, Georgia Southwestern State University, “Emma Bugbee and the ‘Girl Reporter’: The Mid-Century Print Culture Politics of Juvenile Literature.”

Starting in the late 19th c., the ‘girl reporter’ became an increasingly popular character in fictional literature aimed at adolescents.  These ‘girls’ reflected the popularity of early stunt journalists like Nelly Bly.  Yet in the 1930s, a new genre of ‘girl reporter’ books appeared with an emphasis on professionalism and newsroom relationships.  This essay is a case study of children’s literature produced by well-known reporter Emma Bugbee in the mid-20th c.  Through five novels tracing the journalism career of “Peggy Foster,” Bugbee sought to share professional knowledge about journalism while encouraging more recognition of pioneering female journalists like herself.  While eclipsed by ‘sexier’ versions of the girl reporter like Brenda Starr in the post-WWII years, Bugbee’s creative work remains important in understanding the continuation but modernization of visions of female opportunities in journalism and the supportive networks of mid-20th c. female news workers.

Brian Carroll, Berry College, "Isabella Goodwin: Gendered Newspaper Coverage of New York's First Female Detective."

Part of a larger project that explores the origins of conventions in crime coverage and in dramatizations of crime, this paper charts how newspapers covered the nation's first female detective, looking in particular for tropes and themes of domesticity and gender-based roles and descriptions. Examining how periodicals and their reporters and writers described Isabella Goodwin, her authority, her place in the law enforcement firmament, and her worthiness could promote a better understanding of a period of American history that relegated many women in the labor force to caretaking roles. Searches of newspaper coverage between 1896, when Goodwin joined the force as a matron, and 1943, when she died, created a data set of 237 articles that mention Goodwin by name. Importantly, histories of the New York Police Department -- both official and popular -- omit her from the record.

Matthew Cikovic, Pennsylvania State University, “Mister Rogers: The Public Broadcasting Champion.”

The narrative to emerge from a popular video of Fred Rogers testifying before the Senate positions him as ‘David’ standing up to Senator John Pastore’s ‘Goliath.’ It is an easy story which seems factual given the six and a half minute video and two rude comments from Pastore. This narrative, however, ignores the hearing record of almost universal support for the full federal funding of public broadcasting. Since then Rogers’ and Pastore’s interaction has become firmly fixed in pop culture, and this continuing media narrative has been continually used to promote the virtues of public broadcasting.

Brendon Floyd, University of Missouri, “From Nationalism to Imperialism: Musgrave, Burk, and the Irish Rebellion of 1798.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, two divergent histories emerged that contested its meaning and competed to define its narrative through print culture. Sir Richard Musgrave’s Memoirs of the Different Rebellions in Ireland (1801) and John Daly Burk’s History of the Late War in Ireland (1799) provide two prime examples of these competing views. Traditionally, these histories have been approached through a nationalist lens: Musgrave representing the conservative ultra-Protestant unionist and Burk the transnational radical republicanism of the United Irishmen. While these approaches have proven fruitful in illuminating different connections in and the evolving nature of Irish identity and nationalism, I argue they have also obscured their imperial context by projecting the dominance of Irish nationalism into the past. By challenging the ascendancy of the Irish nationalist historical lens using these narratives, this paper reveals a broader imperial ideology where United Irishmen like Burk understood themselves as members of a global anti-imperial project raging during the Age of Revolution and print culture as one of its most effective weapons.

Michael Fuhlhage, Anna Lindner, and Keena Neal, Wayne State University, "From Empire Builder to Failed Despot: News Framing of William Walker’s First Nicaragua Filibuster Campaign."

This paper examines three newspapers’ framing of mercenary and newspaper editor William Walker’s filibuster campaign in 1855-57. Walker’s mission was to colonize Nicaragua, conquer the rest of Central America, and then petition for annexation by the United States, as Texas had done the previous decade. The newspapers analyzed are the New York Herald, the paper with the highest circulation in the United States; El Nicaragüense, the bilingual English-Spanish official state newspaper of the Walker regime in Nicaragua; and El Diario de la Marina, the Spanish-language official paper of Cuba’s Spanish colonial government, the chief foreign adversary to the United States in the Caribbean region, which neighbored Nicaragua. This analysis is significant for its contribution to understanding of how propaganda was produced, spread through news networks, and was contested in the transnational partisan press.

Julien Gorbach, University of Hawaii at Manoa, "No Monsters and No Heroes! How the Realism of The Front Page Changed the Movies."

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s The Front Page has been called “the Rosetta Stone of journalism,” and “the prototype of the journalism movie,” ever since its sensational debut on Broadway (1928) and appearance as an early talkie (1931). It has been adapted into a film four times and been revived an equal number of times on the Broadway stage. While many newspaper reviews and scholarly discussions have sought to explain the story’s success and enduring relevance, Joe Saltzman calls for a reexamination of this question with his recent discovery and survey of 3,462 movies about journalism made during the silent era. This study argues The Front Page played a crucial role in a transformation of public consciousness that came with the birth of sound in the movies; that it was groundbreaking as a movie functioning as “journalism about journalism”; and that it brought the “American realism” of literature into the movies.

Nicholas Hirshon, William Paterson University, "Bowling Headliners (1948-1950): The Creation of a Spectator Sport in Television’s Emergent Years."

Bowling Headliners, a television series broadcast from 1948 to 1950, played a significant role in earning the game’s acceptance as a spectator sport in the United States. Premiering in the pivotal year when television arrived as a mass medium, the program showcased the skills of top bowlers while also encouraging novel forms of audience participation and complementing the sometimes dull activity on the lanes with appearances by famous announcers and attractive models. Its host, a quick-witted New York City journalist named Al Cirillo, combined sports and entertainment in a trailblazing format that became a blueprint for selling bowling to the masses. The series embodied the enterprising spirits of three of the most notable media organizations of the twentieth century: its host networks, ABC in the first season and DuMont in the second, and Cirillo’s employer, the New York Daily News, America’s most widely-read newspaper at the time.

Owen V. Johnson, Indiana University, "That's All We Did for Him: The Story of Ernie Pyle and His Relationship to Blacks."

This paper examines stories about Ernie Pyle and his relationship to Blacks, as well as Pyle's writing about Blacks.  The body of Pyle's work provides conclusions many readers perhaps will not expect.  In general, he was positive to Blacks. He portrayed them objectively, although some readers today would be offended that on occasion he simply mentioned them as maids or houseboys.  This study reviews all references to Blacks in the almost 4,000 columns Pyle wrote, and the 1,300 private letters with which the author is familiar.  This paper will briefly outline Pyle's life and career and what might have made him comfortable reporting about and understanding of Blacks, including his experience with the Ku Klux Klan.  It will then examine writing about Pyle's reporting about Blacks, and finally investigate Pyle's reporting itself in three periods of his life.

Amy Mattson Lauters, Minnesota State University, Mankato, "'Giving Cheap Knowledge to the People': Community-building Among the British Working-class Through the Poor Man’s Guardian, 1831-1835."

In the wake of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, the British Parliament enacted harsh legislation designed to suppress freedom of speech and the press in Britain and stop any incipient working-class rebellion. Working-class reformers and printers reacted by going underground and publishing illegal newspapers, collectively called the Unstamped. This paper examines one such newspaper, the Poor Man’s Guardian, which was published in a crucial four years in British labor history and directly challenged Parliament’s suppression of the press in its stand for universal suffrage and freedom of the press. Using the theoretical lens of community-building, this paper attempts to demonstrate that the newspaper itself acted as a community-building platform to bring together readers surrounding a common political interest to ultimately bring about social and political change.

Autumn Lorimer Linford, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "'They’ll Never Make Newspaper Men': Early Gendering in Journalism, 1884-1889."

Journalism scholars have long since noted that journalism is a gendered field, but when did such gendering begin? Through an examination of the first five years of the Journalist, the first news trade publication dedicated to defining and standardizing modern journalism in the late 1800s, this research argues that gendering in the news industry began as early as 1884 and suggests that gender and professionalization shaped each other, intertwining so that modern journalism was gendered from the start. The Journalist provides evidence that male newsworkers standardized masculine character traits and behaviors as standards of the field that still exist today.

Madeleine Liseblad and Greg Pitts, Middle Tennessee State University, "Breaking the Billboard Magazine Mold: The Barbara Streisand, Michael Jackson and Julio Iglesias Super Specials."

Battling a recession, Billboard—one of the world’s oldest trade publications—dramatically changed its look and feel with a “super special.” The smashing success of the December 1983 issue, “The Legend of Barbra Streisand,” brought much needed revenue. It was also a significant marketing tool for Streisand’s movie Yentl and its soundtrack. Two other super specials followed: “The Saga of Michael Jackson” and “The World of Julio Iglesias.” Jackson approved photos and copy, timed with the Victory Tour. Iglesias’ issue dropped at the same time as his new album—considered his breakthrough in English-speaking markets—and subsequent tour. These super issues for subscribers and newsstand consumers brought Billboard added recognition. Crossing over from trade to celebrity consumer publication also helped Billboard financially. These issues had an advertorial nature, but they also cemented Billboard’s role as the music industry bible, not only as a trade publication but also for a consumer audience.

Tracy Lucht, Iowa State University, "Amelia Bloomer, The Lily, and Early Feminist Discourse in the U.S."

The Lily, a temperance and woman’s rights publication started by Amelia Bloomer in 1849, was among the first periodicals published by and for women in the U.S. Previous scholars have treated the two primary subjects addressed in its pages—temperance and woman’s rights—as separate. This research, based on analysis of the Lily and other archival sources, reveals the connection between them and shows how Bloomer used the publication to advance the discourse, dialogue, and practice of woman’s rights from the time she began publishing. Laying the groundwork for modern feminism by making the personal political, the Lily linked the bitter humiliations of women’s daily lives to their political disenfranchisement. At the same time, her work set an agenda for feminism that centralized the perspectives of middle-class white women and marginalized issues involving race and ethnicity.

Thomas Mascaro, Bowling Green State University, "A Journalist’s Guernica: With 'East Pakistan, 1971,' NBC’s Robert Rogers Introduces Rhonda Schwartz to Documentary Method in a Haunting Critique of U.S. Policy in the Pakistani Civil War."

This paper provides the first detailed historical, analytical, and interpretive account of a unique network news documentary on the Pakistani Civil War of 1971. The program aired on November 26, 1971, on the NBC News program Chronolog. It was produced by Robert F. Rogers. Contrary to theories of journalism that “manufacture consent” by parroting official sources, documentary journalists dare to challenge the highest authority of the U.S. government. In addition to developing its thesis through case-study method, this paper introduces the career-origin story of an important-but-overlooked woman in documentary journalism history, Rhonda Schwartz, and it analyzes a documentary in the filmography of Robert Rogers in terms of artistic expression in the manner of Picasso’s Guernica. The overarching theme invites historians to identify other works of documentary journalism that challenge dominant powers and also contest cultural theories that perpetuate narratives about journalism’s complicity in a political economy.

Raymond McCaffrey, University of Arkansas, "The Oklahoma City Bombing, 25 Years Later: Institutional Values and Professional Practices Employed by Journalists on the Biggest Story of Their Lives."

This historical case study looks at the Oklahoma City bombing through the eyes of the journalists who covered it. This study examined how theory concerning institutional codes translated to journalism practice during an event that killed 168 people in 1995. More than 2,000 pages of transcripts of interviews with more than 100 journalists were reviewed at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Their accounts serve as evidence of a clear-cut link between professional journalism practices and the institutional rules taught in journalism schools and outlined in journalistic ethics codes. Their most powerful motivation was a sense of responsibility that demanded them to follow core principals such as seeking the truth, providing accurate information, and remaining impartial and fair. The journalists spoke of following unwritten rules calling for courage, risk-taking, emotional detachment, and stoicism. The journalists also talked about experiencing symptoms common to those suffering from trauma- and stressor-related mental disorders.

Emily Muhich, Louisiana State University, "Before Scopes: God, Darwin and America’s First Anti-Evolution Campaign."

In 1922, the Kentucky State Legislature considered the nation’s first bill to prohibit public schools from teaching evolution. Local newspapers and church pulpits quickly became the battleground for a referendum on the purpose of education. The newspapers featured article after article on the legislation as three potential anti-evolution bills were eventually considered by the state congressmen. Within this forum, conflicting goals for American education were promoted, and each side saw the potential demise of the Republic in the outcome of these bills. Voices from around the country similarly clamored to condone or praise the legislation in large and small publications alike. Although all three Kentucky bills were eventually defeated, similar legislation appeared before many other governing bodies throughout the country over rest of the decade. As a result, the discourse from the Kentucky newspapers helped to shape what would become a national referendum on science education as the decade progressed.

Pete Smith, Mississippi State University, “'To Be Up and Doing': Kate Markham Power’s Crusade Journalism and Case Against Woman Suffrage in the Post-Antebellum South."

Mississippi journalist and editor Kate Markham Power spent much of her career drawing attention to the needs of the underprivileged—women overburdened with the duties of work and home, orphans, or those too ill to help themselves. She also worked to assist the educational and professional pursuits of the state’s middle-class women. At the same time, Power took every opportunity to express her anti-suffragist views to her readers. Using her own weekly publication, Kate Power’s Review, as well as two different editorial columns from her family’s newspaper, the Jackson (Miss.) Daily Clarion-Ledger, Power spoke of woman suffrage as a threat to traditional gender roles and the southern hegemony that helped maintain her family’s comfortable socio-economic position. This paper examines Power’s brand of what Christopher Daly calls “crusade journalism” and discusses the implications of that work against the backdrop of post-antebellum southern politics, gender roles, and issues of class and privilege.

Michael S. Sweeney, Ohio University, "The 'Exactest' Color and Situation: James Cassidy’s Two Radio Voices in World War II."

Historian Gerd Horten tells us little research has been done about radio from the 1920s through the 1940s, and “[n]o period better reflects historians’ neglect of radio broadcasting than World War II.” This paper addresses that neglect by examining the radio war correspondence of James Cassidy, previously ignored by historians, from August through December 1944. Cassidy was the first to broadcast from inside Germany and to broadcast a Jewish service from German soil. He often risked his life to report on the Battle of the Bulge. It argues that Cassidy mastered two styles, or voices: one of hard news for NBC, and one of color designed specifically for his home station, WLW in Cincinnati. The paper is based upon Cassidy’s long-forgotten radio scripts, his private war diary (quoted here for the first time), a 1981 Cassidy oral history interview, and the author’s oral history interview with his daughter.

Thomas Terry, Utah State University, "Its Racist Plunder: Opposing Agendas and Representations of the Elections of 1898 and 2008 through White and Black Press Political Cartoonists."

This study, couched in agenda-setting theory, looks at the pivotal 1898 and 2008 elections through the cartoons of one White press and three Black press editorial cartoonists: Norman Jennett of the white, Democratic Raleigh, North Carolina, News & Observer in 1898 and African Americans David Brown with the Los Angeles Sentinel, Walt R. Carr, Jr., of the Call & Post (Dayton, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, Ohio), and an unidentified African American editorial cartoonist with the Las Vegas Sentinel-Voice in 2008. Through savage racist rhetoric and cartoons, News & Observer publisher Josephus Daniels helped split the Fusionist alliance of white progressives, African Americans, and Republicans, ushering in southern segregation for at least seven decades. By 2008, the national political climate had dramatically changed with the candidacy of Barack Obama. The African American cartoonists employed the modern political cartoonists’ tradition of sarcasm, incisive comment, and exaggeration, rather than racism.

Ashley Walter and Karlin Andersen, Penn State University, "All the President’s Media: How the Traditional Press Responded to New Communications Technology Adopted by U.S. Presidents."

Franklin D. Roosevelt was not the first U.S. president to broadcast to the nation, but his mastery of the radio is imprinted into history. Similarly, John F. Kennedy is known for his innovative use of television despite not being the first U.S. president to address the nation over the medium. Both men mastered a new communications medium, ridding themselves of gatekeepers to communicate directly to U.S. citizens. This study attempts to understand how the traditional press reacted to unfiltered messages via new communications media. To date, research has focused on Roosevelt’s radio use and Kennedy’s television appearances, however, researchers have not looked at these phenomena together in conjunction with editorial and news content. This study threads these presidents’ use of media together into a broader historical narrative to understand how the traditional press perceived new communications from 1933 to our current administration.

Patrick Walters, Temple University and Kutztown University, "Boundaries and Journalistic Authority in Newspaper Coverage of the Hutchins Report."

This study closely examines U.S. newspaper coverage following the March 1947 release of the Hutchins Commission’s report on the press. Using textual analysis, it looks at news and editorial content in newspapers across the country in the weeks after the report’s release. Building on the work of Margaret Blanchard, Victor Pickard, Stephen Bates and others, the paper finds that newspapers immediately began working to stake their claim to journalistic authority amid the increasing rise of broadcast. Newspapers took great pains to tell the audience that they – more than any other entity – answered to their interests. The paper argues that, with radio thriving and the rise of television just around the corner, this coverage marked an early case of newspapers attempting to set boundaries and establish themselves as the true “press,” one willing to take responsibility on its own terms, one that knew the audience better than any other medium.

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