35th Annual AJHA Convention
St. Petersburg | Oct. 6-8, 2016
Go to: Program | Panel Abstracts | Research in Progress
Erin K. Coyle, Louisiana State University, “Turning Point: Exploring Journalists’ and Judges’ Attempts to Protect Free Press and Fair Trial Rights after Sheppard v. Maxwell” ♦ The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a conviction after pervasive coverage of a crime and court proceedings deprived a defendant’s fair trial rights in 1966. Two North Carolina judges subsequently issued a rule of court restricting information trial participants, court workers, and law enforcement could publicly release between the time of an arrest and the end of a trial. Journalists indicated that a blackout on crime news followed, as law enforcement officers cited the rule when refusing to release crime and accident reports. Editors initially presented the rule as a threat to press freedom that undermined the press’s responsibility to scrutinize criminal justice. News editorials criticized the rule, reflecting journalists’ fears that the North Carolina experience exemplified the potential for police and judges to create broad blankets of secrecy. Members of the press and bench, however, ultimately came together to address ways to protect free press and fair trial rights.
Glen Feighery, University of Utah, “Questioning the Atom Masters: News Coverage of Above-Ground Nuclear Testing, 1951-1953” ♦ Between 1951 and 1953, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission detonated thirty-one bombs at the Nevada Test Site, making the mushroom cloud a Cold War icon. By examining national, state, and local news coverage of the tests, this paper contributes to the scholarly literature in two ways. First, it complements the history of science journalism by addressing a chronological gap in the literature and by showing how factual reporting helped debunk myths and educate the public. Second, this study contributes to the history of news coverage of nuclear testing. Scholars in this area have concluded that national security often trumped reporting of safety concerns, or that journalists even overtly colluded with authorities to downplay the hazards of fallout from above-ground tests. Complicating those portrayals, this paper finds that some early reporting of atomic tests was more substantive, nuanced, and critical than previously depicted.
Elisabeth Fondren, Louisiana State University, “Disloyal or Merely Distrusted? Editorial and Political Views of the German-Language Press in 1917” ♦ This historical media study explores the editorial and political views of the German-language press during the summer of 1917, adding to the body of knowledge on ethnic press research of World War I. More specifically, through a historical survey and close textual analysis, this research assesses the tone of a sample of German language newspapers, ranging from patriotic to critical of the United States’ war efforts. The findings show that the overall coverage during these three months was less loyal to Imperial Germany than had been argued by U.S. officials and censors and more balanced towards the American war efforts – and at times overtly patriotic. The German language mainstream press had varying degrees of balance and emphasis on different issues of public affairs. Lastly, these papers widely published the U.S. government’s official position to show support and loyalty for the American war efforts. A total number of 250 newspaper editions were analyzed from July 1, 1917 to September 30, 1917 and drawn from a geographically and politically diverse sample: Der Deutsche Correspondent (daily), a liberal-leaning mainstream paper from Baltimore; the daily liberal New Yorker Staats-Zeitung; the daily independent Tägliches Cincinnati Volksblatt; and the German-patriotic, New York-based magazine The Fatherland (weekly).
Nathaniel Frederick II, Winthrop University, “Swinging in the Pews: The Black Press’ Campaign Against Swinging Spirituals” ♦ Black spirituals were unknown outside of the slave community until introduced by groups like the Fisk Jubilee Singers in the 1870s. Singing to mostly White audiences, this represented the first public performances of Black church music. The spirituals garnered mainstream attention again during the Swing Era of popular music in the 1930s and 1940s. While swing music was a popular musical trend, the “swinging spiritual” was a mainstream interpretation of Black sacred music played by popular bands and singers. This study is a historical analysis of the public debate over swinging spirituals in the Black press in the 1930s and 1940s by clergies, music artists, and various members of the Black community. Using articles and editorials in four metropolitan Black newspapers: Pittsburgh Courier, Chicago Defender, New York Amsterdam, and Philadelphia Tribune, this study highlights a range of perceptions on racial identity, commercialism, and the nature of religious music.
Melissa Greene-Blye, University of Tennessee, “Great Men, Savages, and the End of the Indian Problem” ♦ This manuscript examines newspaper coverage of the Miami Indians during the period 1790-1900, a critical time in the tribe’s history as well as the history of our country. Examined through the framework of key historical events and Manifest Destiny, this paper uses critical discourse analysis to examine how newspaper portrayals of the Miami people were influenced by the social, cultural, and governmental agendas of the time. The author examined more than 100 newspaper articles from the time period under study to explore and assess how the shifting power dynamics of this historical time period shaped how the Miami and other tribes were portrayed in the newspapers of the day.
Jason Lee Guthrie, University of Georgia, “Poor Richard’s Copyright: Benjamin Franklin and the Theorization of Intellectual Property in Colonial America” ♦ Benjamin Franklin was the most prolific and profitable author in colonial America, yet his writing career has often been remembered as a footnote to his subsequent scientific and political achievements. Some aspects of his career have been examined such as his pioneering efforts in journalism, his influence upon the American literary aesthetic, and his visionary insight into integrating content creation with distribution networks. However, his understanding of intellectual property remains largely unexplored. This article returns to the extensive primary source material left by Franklin for evidence of his thoughts on plagiarism, academic inquiry, copyright, and patent. In doing so, a complex understanding of intellectual property emerges that defies simple categorization and refutes the tendency in some historical work to remember Franklin as “representative” of colonial America or Enlightenment philosophy. This study further illuminates an understanding of Franklin and informs a historical understanding of problems in the theorization of intellectual property.
Katlin Hiller, Ohio University, “The Chicano Fight for Educational Equality” ♦ Ruben Salazar was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times for more than a decade, but in lieu of being known for a successful career, he is more known by his status as an unintentional martyr of the Chicano movement for educational equality and for the disputed evidence surrounding the circumstances of his death. However, the impact that he had in the Mexican-American community in Los Angeles in the 1960s cannot be ignored. This paper presents a description and analysis of ten of Ruben Salazar’s articles and columns with the aim of providing a glimpse into the Mexican-American sector of Los Angeles at the height of the Chicano movement in 1969 and 1970. This paper also details numerous grievances and recommendations for improvement regarding educational policies and practices affecting the Chicano community. Salazar’s writing highlights the personal struggles of a few of the many thousands of Mexican-Americans who strove for their own version of the ever-so-elusive American dream during the mid-20th century.
Paula Hunt and Lirley McCune, University of Missouri-Columbia, “E.S. Wells: The Advertising Genius Behind Rough on Rats and the Battle of Progressive Era Food and Drug Reform, 1874-1906” ♦ In the late nineteenth century, Rough on Rats was not simply a popular, cheap, and widely available arsenic-based poison Americans used to get rid of their pest problems. They also used it for what might be called “off-label” purposes as well — namely ridding themselves of unwanted spouses, irritating employers, or wealthy parents, not to mention taking their own lives. In the unregulated marketplace of an era when product claims were unfettered, labeling unregulated, and consumer safety often disregarded, there was little to protect buyers from ineffective or even dangerous products. This study focuses on the intersection of pure food and drug reform and advertising by examining a single product, Rough on Rats, and how some reformers sought to address the very real problems related to its misuse. It also seeks to recover the story of Ephraim S. Wells, who oversaw an advertising campaign that made Rough on Rats a household name.
Richard Anthony Lewis, University of Southern Mississippi, “Beyond Question: Wendell D. Rimer, Troy A. Peters, and the Documentation of War Crimes at Hadamar Institute, April-May 1945” ♦ The paper examines the use of photographs as documentary evidence in prosecuting crimes against humanity committed by the Germans during World War II. It examines a group of photographs taken by Troy A. Peters, a U. S. Army photographer, in the Wendell D. Rimer Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi and in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C. The photographs depict exhumed bodies at Hadamar Institute, one of six sites where the Germans carried out a campaign of mass euthanasia. The photographs were used as part of the testimony during the first prosecution of Nazi officials by the War Crimes Investigation Commission. These photographic images are analyzed from the vantage of visual framing and in relation to perceptions of credibility. The documentary photographs of Hadamar are situated in the context of news images depicting German concentration camps published during the summer of 1945.
Yun Li and Marilyn Greenwald, Ohio University, “Getting Lucky: How Prosecutors Thomas E. Dewey and Eunice Carter Used the Press to Convict Mob Boss Luciano” ♦ In 1935, Thomas Dewey was appointed special prosecutor to investigate organized crime in New York. Within a year, Dewey had convicted notorious mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano, in part by currying favor with news managers at the time for favorable coverage, and in part by creating for the public the perfect villain in Luciano, who until then was known primarily by other mobsters. In an era when law enforcement was almost exclusively white and male, Dewey appointed Eunice Carter, an African-American female lawyer, to his team. Drawing on archival sources and newspaper articles, this study explores how the intersection of the careers of Dewey and Carter helped to bring about one of the most sensational criminal investigations of the 20th century. Dewey’s cultivation of the media combined with Carter’s knowledge of crime in Harlem ultimately enabled the prosecution of the racketeers. Through examining the newspaper coverage of Dewey’s racket investigation and the Luciano trial, this study reveals the media’s role in shaping Dewey’s heroic gangbuster image.
Linda Lumsden, University of Arizona, “Trailblazing in Social Movement Media: The Sierra Club Bulletin’s Role in Building the Environmental Movement, 1893-1970” ♦ The paper uses social movement theory to explore the central but largely forgotten role the venerable Sierra Club Bulletin played in the creation of the modern environmental movement, from its January 1893 inaugural issue to the first Earth Day in 1970. The study uses the Bulletin to address larger questions about how social movement media create and sustain collective identity, mobilize collective action, and struggle to remain relevant to an evolving movement in changing times. Unpublished club records offer gleanings into how the Bulletin manifested, managed, and survived the growing pains, philosophical differences, and personality clashes that by the 1960s threatened the club’s existence. These insights may be applicable to other social movement media, which must constantly evolve to remain relevant. The study shows how the Bulletin transformed into SIERRA, a glossy magazine distributed to 2.4 million members of the club that today is an institution of modern environmentalism.
Kimberley Mangun, University of Utah, “‘The issue of our time is civil rights’: Coverage of the Civil Rights Movement in The Nation, 1955-1960” ♦ The Nation commemorated its 150th anniversary in 2015 with fanfare befitting the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. Live events featured mixed-media programs. A documentary, Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation, was screened at venues across the country. Book signings celebrated the release of The Nation: A Biography. And a quintuple-length special issue of the magazine was published. Throughout The Nation’s 150th anniversary year, much was made of its commitment to civil rights. But scholars have not studied how the periodical covered the period that became known as the Civil Rights Movement or the scope of its coverage. This qualitative study entails a textual analysis of nearly 150 items about civil rights that were published between January 1955 and December 1960 in the weekly magazine. Results illustrate that coverage was extensive, nuanced, and richly sourced.
Raymond McCaffrey, University of Arkansas, “The Sportswriter as Hero” ♦ This historical case study explored the role that journalism tributes to fallen sports journalists have played in developing a hero mythology that encourages an acknowledged macho ethos in the profession. The study used qualitative methods to analyze New York Times stories about U.S. journalists who died from 1854 to 2012. The study found that indeed a powerful hero mythology existed, but it was applied solely to those journalists who had given up sports coverage and perished after having taken up what might be considered more serious news coverage, such as covering war or uncovering corruption. These fallen journalists were seen as answering a call and giving their lives in service to a higher calling: journalism. Sports journalists who actually died while covering sports were never given a hero's sendoff - in fact, if they were covered by the Times at all, they were more likely to be portrayed as victims.
Gwyn Mellinger, James Madison University, “A Struggle over Meaning: Harry Ashmore’s Speech to the Southern Governors” ♦ This analysis explores the racial philosophy of Harry Ashmore, editor of the Arkansas Gazette during the 1950s, by focusing on a controversial speech he gave to the Southern Governors Conference. Ashmore’s position in the 1951 address was widely misinterpreted, because of both misleading news reports and his own contradictory statements about race, centering on his simultaneous support of social segregation and civil rights for African Americans. His archived correspondence documents his efforts to clarify the complex message he delivered to the governors, after the address rankled racial conservatives and prompted integrationists to mistakenly believe that they had found an ally in the Southern press. The study concludes that although Ashmore’s support of continued segregation and separate-but-equal schools in the early 1950s conformed to expectations imposed upon Southern editors, these views were authentically his own.
Cristina Mislan, University of Missouri-Columbia, Jinx Broussard, Louisiana State University, and Rachel Grant, University of Missouri-Columbia, “‘Larger than Life’: Celebrity Journalism, Gender and Black Politics in Fay M. Jackson’s Hollywood Adventures, 1933-1935” ♦ Hashtag movements like #OscarSoWhite have helped highlight ongoing racial disparities within American institutions. Such movements, however, are rooted in the history of black media and its coverage of entertainment, particularly during the heyday of black Hollywood. This historical analysis tells the story of an under-recognized black female journalist, Fay M. Jackson, who wrote as the Associated Negro Press’ (ANP) Hollywood correspondent during the 1930s. The analysis highlights two primary themes that emerged in Jackson’s celebrity news coverage: 1) Jackson’s employment of gossip news and biographical profiles to bring personhood to black female celebrities, with a goal of eliminating stereotypes, and 2) Jackson’s coverage of the “browning” of Hollywood to further highlight the importance of racial representation within the entertainment industry. These themes highlight how Jackson’s reportage on black Hollywood connected to larger concerns about the position and status of black individuals in American society.
Candi Carter Olson, Utah State University, “Because of the Places She Had to Go: Changing Women’s Roles Through the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh” ♦ This
article uses archival evidence about the Women’s Press Club of
Pittsburgh, which is the second-oldest women’s press
club in the United States that has retained its single-gender status,
to examine the ways that women’s press clubs helped newswomen of the
late nineteenth century bend gender roles while tweaking public
perceptions of appropriate women’s work. Archival evidence shows that
nineteenth century women journalists used the public image of womanhood
espoused by the Cult of Domesticity or Cult of True Womanhood to
reinforce their right to stand as representatives of women as a whole
while their public work as journalists constantly challenged and,
eventually, undermined that very same image of femininity.
Erika J. Pribanic-Smith, University of Texas-Arlington, “Religious Newspapers and Presidential Politics, 1840-1848” ♦ Although rampant newspaper partisanship characterized the antebellum era, the number of dedicated religious newspapers steadily increased between 1830 and 1850. Meanwhile, a dramatic interweaving of religious and political principles occurred in the Whig Party, which took cues from evangelical reform movements and promoted candidates as spiritual and religious symbols. This paper explores the extent to which religious newspapers exhibited political partisanship during the national elections of the 1840s—bookended by the only two presidential elections that Whigs won—with the goal of enhancing understanding of the antebellum religious press. Despite religious editors’ universal claims of neutrality and disdain for politics, when examined closely, some religious newspapers displayed the political bias that was characteristic of the era’s secular press. Preference toward Whigs in religious newspapers extends ethnocultural voting theory that ties Christian laymen’s political behavior to religious views, suggesting a disparity between clergymen who edited newspapers and those who did not.
Ronald R. Rodgers, University of Florida, “The Mission vs. The Market: The Dialectic of Press Reform in the Age of a Commercialized Press” ♦ The mission vs. the market was a dialectic that animated much of the criticism of the ethics of the newspaper a century and more ago as it sloughed off partisanship and redefined its role as a commercial enterprise. From that dialectic this paper draws out the foundational precepts of the mission of journalism – which are applicable to the current conversation in a similarly disruptive era about creating a new news ethic for the digital age.
Amber Roessner, University of Tennessee, “Deconstructing His ‘Non-Political Image’: Carl P. Leubsdorf & The ‘Stunning Rise’ of Jimmy Carter” ♦ On January 23, 1976 Carl P. Leubsdorf, the recently hired Washington correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, pondered the Southern moderate’s emerging image in the national media. The former chief political reporter of the Associated Press contended that Carter had benefited from the attempts of national political reporters to avoid oversaturation of the primaries. Over the next ten months, he would consider Carter’s performance in key political contests, his character, and the state of American journalism and politics in the first post-Watergate campaign, and in so doing, this manuscript contends he contributed to a new form of campaign journalism that helped to transform America’s political landscape. Overall, a census of 152 articles of Leubsdorf’s Carter-focused Sun articles from January 1 until November 3, 1976, were identified through ProQuest Historical Newspapers and analyzed through an interpretative textual analysis, alongside an in-depth interview conducted with Leubsdorf in Washington, D.C., in August 2013.
Pete Smith, Mississippi State University, “‘A Lady of Many Firsts’: Press Coverage of the Political Career of Mississippi’s Evelyn Gandy, 1948-83” ♦ Mississippi native Evelyn Gandy holds an interesting place in state political history. She was the first woman elected to several state political offices, including: the Mississippi House of Representatives (1948-52), state treasurer (1960-64, 1968-72), state commissioner of public welfare (1964-67), state commissioner of insurance (1972-76), and lieutenant governor (1976-80). She then launched two unsuccessful bids for governor (1979, 1983). Using the Evelyn Gandy Papers, which contains over 40 scrapbooks of press clippings, this study examines the press coverage of Gandy’s image over a 35-year period. Specifically, three frames are noted: (1) a “first” frame presenting women’s political contributions as a novelty; (2) frames emphasizing stereotypical, feminine characteristics; and (3) an “iron magnolia” frame acknowledging Gandy’s political assertiveness while still over emphasizing many stereotypical, feminine characteristics. This study provides historical context for researchers who have demonstrated that press frames of women politicians reflect and can reinforce cultural sexism.
Paul Subin and David Dowling, University of Iowa, “Gandhi’s Newspaperman: T.G. Narayanan and the Quest for an Independent India, 1938-1946” ♦ The expansion of the colonial public sphere in India during the 1930s and ’40s saw the nation’s English-language press increasingly serve as a key site in the struggle for freedom despite British censorship. This study examines the journalistic career of T.G. Narayanan, the first Indian war correspondent and investigative reporter, to understand the role of English-language newspapers in India’s quest for independence. Narayanan reported on two major events leading to independence: the Bengal famine of 1943 and the Second World War. Drawing on Michael Walzer’s concept of the “connected critic,” this research demonstrates that Narayanan’s journalism fueled the Indian nationalist movement by maneuvering around British censors to publicize and expand Mahatma Gandhi’s criticism of British rule especially in light of the famine and war. His one departure from the pacifist leader, however, was his support of Indian soldiers serving in the Indian National Army (INA) and British Army.
Bernell Tripp, University of Florida, “John Q. Adams’ Western Appeal: Voice of Black Midwesterners in the Midst of Accommodation” ♦ Several historians have characterized the Boston Riot of 1903 as a catalyst that widened the gap between radicals and accommodationists, while also helping to clearly define the divergent political philosophies for those African Americans who were still unsure. However, while others would begin to question Booker T. Washington’s motives for his conciliatory philosophy, Western Appeal editor John Quincy Adams would stick by Washington in the months following the Boston meeting – or did he? This study examines Adams’ activist stance and protest style before, during, and after the incident in 1903 for changes in his self-proclaimed national voice of African Americans. An examination of this career-changing year in his life would assist in constructing plausible explanations of not only how but also why the Appeal developed a well-respected reputation among Adams’ journalistic peers during this tumultuous period.
Willie R. Tubbs, University of Southern Mississippi, “Hardened Leaders: Randy Old Officers in Blighty’s World War II Military Cartoons” ♦ During World War II, a unique type of political cartoon emerged in Blighty, a weekly British military humor magazine. From its birth in late 1939 through 1945, Blighty featured more than 100 cartoons depicting aging officers engaged in all manner of sexual chicanery with willing and unwilling young women. This paper is not only the history of the cartoons but also an effort to define the societal factors that that yielded them. These cartoons are unique as they survive while the relationships they depict have been forgotten over time. The fact that better-known British artists like Arthur Ferrier and Tom Cottrell, as well as a bevy of anonymous cartoonists, addressed the issue suggests the relationships were either rooted in reality or at least represented a strong fantasy of men at the time. Through an analysis of the old-officer, young-woman cartoons in Blighty, as well as brief sojourns into the cartoons of British civilian humor magazine Punch during both World Wars and the American comic strip Beetle Bailey, the author explores several possible explanations for the influx of the theme. These cartoons might have been reflections of truth, depictions of fantasy, or British military culture’s coming to terms with the evolution of women in both the military and society at large.
Debbie van Tuyll, Augusta University, “Transnational Journalism History: An Alternative Paradigm for Studying the Role of the Press” ♦ Transnational journalism history is a relatively new perspective that will be useful to historians because it allows them to examine professional issues, agents, technologies, practices, and values without the constraints of national borders. This paper explains the transnational journalism history paradigm and uses the career of 19th century Irish American journalist and revolutionary John Mitchel to illustrate how the perspective can be employed. Mitchel began his career in Ireland but his involvement in the 1848 rising resulted in his exile to Bermuda and then Australia. He escaped and began a long career in America as a journalist, one that spanned the Civil War. Mitchel’s main concern through all the years of his career was nations, nationalism, and national freedom, and his writing on this topic transcended borders and oceans.
Kenneth Ward, Ohio University, “‘Head Thrown Back, Eyes Alert’: Sharing Nature in the Columbus Dispatch Column of Edward Sinclair Thomas” ♦ This research analyzes the work of Edward Sinclair Thomas, who wrote a weekly nature column for the Columbus Dispatch in a span of nearly six decades from 1922 to 1981. Beginning in Thomas’s childhood and following him until his death in 1982, it uses archival documents and Thomas’s columns to investigate the effect his writing had on Dispatch readers. It finds that Thomas’s column had a major impact on naturalism, environmentalism, and politics in Ohio, providing a sharing space that brought hobby naturalists, scientists, and environmentalists from throughout the region together to explore shared interests in nature and, at times, to achieve significant political goals. This project not only helps journalism historians understand who Thomas was and why he matters but also illustrates how twentieth-century reporters and columnists working in mid-American communities exerted meaningful influence on millions of Americans.