2011 convention research paper abstracts

Listed alphabetically by name, with affiliation, paper title, and asbstract

Lorraine Ahearn

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Public Memory and Constitutive Rhetoric in Lumbee Indian Newspapers


The Lumbee Tribe of Robeson County, NC, is a minority among minorities: It is the ninth largest Indian tribe in the US, but lacks full federal recognition, reservation land and a language of its own. This paper integrates communication theory and memory studies in an incorporative approach to journalism texts, examining how an ethnic community newspaper used public memory in the form of constitutive rhetoric and legible symbolism to compose a counter-narrative of contested history. The findings challenge notions of how racial identity is constructed, and demonstrate the role alternative media play in this process. 



Jeremy Llewellyn Anderson

University of Utah

Alta: The Frontier Press and the Destruction of a Small Town


On August 1, 1878, a fire broke out in the mining town of Alta, Utah. Fanned by strong winds, the blaze swept through the town in a matter of minutes, completely destroying what was then Utah's most prosperous silver town. Coverage of the fire is analyzed between two competing newspapers: The Salt Lake Daily Tribune and the Deseret News. Each of these newspapers served opposite sides of a diametrically opposed audience. Coverage of Alta is used to analyze the relationship between the papers and the communities of the frontier. In order to discuss agenda-setting between the presses, word counts and topic framing are analyzed and discussed.



Evan Barton

Ohio University

Our Special Grievances: The Messenger and The Crisis During World War I


The patriotic fervor or World War I led most of the black press to support the war with the hope that black participation would lead to a better future. The Messenger was one of the few black-interest periodicals that objected to the war. The magazine was A. Philip Randolph’s attempt to apply socialist principles to the African-American community. This study compared The Messenger with The Crisis, which was the magazine of the NAACP, and run chiefly by W.E.B. DuBois. Like its parent organization, The Crisis was much more focused on civil rights for African-Americans than it was on economic stability. Although The Crisis occasionally addressed issues related to black laborers, it did so without The Messenger’s socialist framework. This study compared the two magazines during World War I, and found that while both magazines advocated for social and economic equality, The Crisis’ uncritical patriotism compromised its position on racial uplift.  



Kathryn J. Beardsley

Temple University

The Logic of Eugenics and the Birth of a Lynching Photograph


On June 16, 1920, Ralph Greenfield captured a now-infamous image of a triple lynching that occurred in Duluth, Minnesota. Although existing scholarship on the Duluth lynchings has mentioned the photograph, there has been very little written about the cultural history of the photograph itself. Through a content assessment of two mainstream, local newspapers printed in 1920, this study seeks to add to the literature by describing the initial social life of Greenfield’s photograph and the eugenics-influenced white community in which it was produced, distributed, consumed, and interpreted. This assessment ultimately results in a new way of understanding the lynchings. Discourse surrounding the photograph suggests that the dominant population did not immediately forget about the lynching. Instead, it indicates that residents sought to manage their regional reputation during an important tourism season by banishing evidence of the lynching from public view.



Jared D. Brey

Temple University

The Dead Issues of a Dead Past: Newspaper Commemorations of the Battle of Gettysburg


Anniversaries of historical events give the press opportunities to commemorate, relive, and sometimes rewrite history. Moreover, press commemorations of historical events both reflect popular memory and help to shape it. This paper follows the evolution of newspaper journalists’ memories of the battle of Gettysburg by assessing the content of commemorative articles written at the 50th, 75th, and 100th anniversaries of that battle. The commemorative articles studied here originally appeared in three newspapers representing different geographical regions important to the Civil War: The Boston Globe, the Baltimore Sun, and The Atlanta Constitution. These articles show that the ways journalists remembered the battle of Gettysburg changed significantly between 1913 and 1963. The changes in those remembrances reflect journalists’ attempts to use anniversaries of historical events as opportunities to espouse patriotic sentiment—and as context for contemporary problems.  


Teddy Champion

University of Alabama

Southern (In)Justice in Film Discourse, 1932-1955


In the early twentieth century, black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson was determined not only to step over the color line, but to pulverize it.  His professional success made him a hero for many in the black community, but his public relationships with white women and troubles with the law alienated many in the black press who thought that a black celebrity of Johnson’s caliber should carry with him the responsibility of representing the best of the black race.  Against the backdrop of Jim Crow and the widespread lynching of black men, Johnson emerged as a powerful yet controversial voice of the black community.  This study considered 1,005 articles from The Washington Bee, The Chicago Defender, The Cleveland Gazette, The Baltimore Afro-American and The Savannah Tribune from November 1909 to April 1915 in order to understand the struggles of the black press in supporting Johnson through his tumultuous life and career. 



Erik Clabaugh

Georgia State University

The Evolution of a Massacre: Newspaper depictions of the Sioux Indians as Related to the Wounded Knee Massacre, 1876-1891


By examining a chain of events beginning with Custer’s defeat at Little Bighorn, and culminating in the weeks and months following the Wounded Knee Massacre, this paper identifies an evolution in newspaper portrayals of Native Americans, and the Sioux in particular, in relation to the massacre itself.  Previous scholarly research has focused primarily on the culpability of the press regarding their reportage leading up to Wounded Knee.  This paper does not concentrate on issues of responsibility.  Instead, it illustrates the ways in which depictions of the Sioux, and the massacre, evolved over time.


Colin Colbourn

University of Southern Mississippi

Denig’s Demons and Joe Blow: Combat Correspondents and the Marine Corps’ Public Relations Program in World War II


The Marine Corps’ use of media professionals during World War II and their focus on telling the stories of the average Marine to hometowns across the United States represents a prime example of how the Corps surged beyond its fellow services with the public perception of America’s “elite” military force. While the army and navy both maintained large public relations divisions throughout the war, the Marine Corps stood alone in actively recruiting prominent civilian journalists, photographers, moviemen, and radiomen in order to enlist them as Marines and deploy them with the combat troops of the Corps.  While many historians have accounted for the narrative of the Combat Correspondent system employed by the Marine Corps, the truly unparalleled nature of this strategy and its origins within an institutional knowledge of public relations remains largely ignored.  Through the use of oral histories, newspaper accounts, and Marine Corps archival material, this paper seeks to provide a comprehensive view of the Combat Correspondent system through its origins, pivotal figures, and activities throughout World War II.


Caryl Cooper

University of Alabama

Selling Negro  Women to Negro Women and to the World: Rebecca Stiles Taylor and the Chicago Defender, 1939-1945


World War II was the worst of times and the best of times for American women.

The war forced many to leave the privacy of their homes to work in factories and

participate in volunteer activities that supported the war effort. As one might

expect, women’s wartime experiences varied greatly. For black women, segregation

and discrimination created additional obstacles to full democratic rights that white

women did not have to consider. Race-based differences in the wartime experience

may have contributed to differing perspectives about the war. This study uses the

historical-critical qualitative method to analyze the themes used in Rebecca Stiles

Taylor’s “Activities of Women’s National Organizations” and “Federated Clubs”

column published in the Chicago Defender from 1939-1945. This examination of

Taylor’s journalistic career and commentary will provide an opportunity to explore

the sentiments and concerns of African-American women and infuse the black

female voice into an otherwise masculine body of knowledge about the black press

during World War II.


Giovanna Dell’Orto

University of Minnesota

A New Country, A New Profession: America and its Foreign Correspondents Get Ready to Take on the World


This paper analyzes American foreign correspondents’ first forays into world affairs to answer two fundamental questions: What discourses of the world have emerged in the American press in the nineteenth century? What can those discourses tell us about the role of the press in international affairs? The focus is on how newspapers in New York, Chicago and New Orleans covered four events with enduring consequences: The opening of Japan to international trade in 1853; the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71; the Cuban revolution in 1895; and the Boxer uprising in China in 1900. Findings suggest that correspondents prized their enterprise in getting first-hand, eyewitness knowledge of foreign realities. The most prominent discursive formation in their correspondence, however, was of what it meant to be American, rather than any specific identity of covered countries and regions.


Wallace B. Eberhard

University of Georgia

Senator Russell, the Censor and the Press: Openness versus Secrecy in the MacArthur Hearings


President Truman's firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in April 1951 near the end of the first year of the Korean War opened a flood of political backlash and public clamor.  During a time  of war when uncertainty about strategy and outcome were high, a brilliant but sometimes imperious military hero was put on the shelf.  Impeachment cries surfaced, along with calls for explanation of how the nation had come to the position in which it found itself.  When two U.S. Senate committees -- Armed Forces and Foreign Affairs -- combined for hearings on the MacArthur firing and foreign policy, with  Sen.Richad B. Russell of Georgia as the chair.  Among other procedural issues involved was whether to open the hearings to the public and press, or close them from outside view.


Sen. Russell prevailed in the battle over open versus closed hearings, thus shutting out the press and public from one of the biggest stories of mid-1950s America.  A system of "instant censorship" provided vetted transcripts within an hour of the actual testimony to press and public.


This research paper examined four questions related to the hearings and freedom of information.  What philosophy guided Sen. Russell, a Democrat from Georgia, in keeping the hearings closed?  How was censorship implemented?  What was the press response to the closed hearings?  Finally, how were the interests of a free flow of information in a democracy ultimately balanced against perceived dangers in the release of national secrets in a time of war?


This research found that Russell -- not an ally of President Truman despite being of the same paper -- held a continuing, unwavering concern with release of national security information.  A Navy admiral was selected to conduct the actual censorship, in consultation with those who testified and the legislators, providing a presumed barrier to release of national secrets. The press seemed split in its appraisal of the decision to close the hearings, though all commentators recognized the problems of releasing secrets.  Finally, basic policy matters involved in the MacArthur hearings and World War 2 foreign affairs seemed to be aired fully, despite the censorship.


Kathleen L. Endres

University of Akron

Lost in Space? American Magazines Frame Women Astronauts and Cosmonauts, 1960-1985


This paper examines how American magazines framed five topics in the history of women in space. The five topics are: Geraldyn Cobb and the Mercury 13; the flight of  Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova; the recruitment and selection of the first six American women astronauts; the flights of Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya and the missions of astronaut Sally Ride. The author finds support for Gaye Tuchman’s concept of the symbolic annihilation of women. The author also finds continuity in the types of magazines covering these stories but an evolution in the frames employed.


Michael Fuhlhage

Auburn University

The Mexican Image in the Southern Mind: DeBow’s Review in the Era of Manifest Destiny


De Bow’s Review was the leading magazine of the South during the antebellum period. This historical study examines the journal’s meaning-making about Mexicans and reveals how the principal voice of the section’s commercial, banking, mercantile, and planting interests promoted the image of a broken, degenerate Mexico and proclaimed that only the “Anglo-Saxon race” was capable of bringing progress amid the American project of empire-building. Though Mexicans’ racial status was unresolved in the 1840s, De Bow’s Review correspondents later assigned them to the status of non-masters unfit to self-govern and therefore only fit to be bossed and ruled by their Anglo-American conquerors.


Dolores Flamiano

James Madison University

Men and Ships: A Striking Example of 1930s Labor Photojournalism


This paper examines the convergence of photojournalism and the labor press in Men and Ships (1937) a publication commemorating the Longshoremen’s Strike of 1934. The Maritime Federation of the Pacific Coast published the sixty-eight-page, large-format, lavishly illustrated magazine as a tribute to 1934 and 1936 strikes and subsequent accomplishments of west coast maritime workers. Similar in photography and layout to mainstream picture magazines but written for an audience of workers and their allies, Men and Ships contained a unique and often surprising fusion of popular visual aesthetics and radical content. The publication was motivated in part by the recent success of Life magazine. It aimed to present the workers' story of the strike, in contrast to San Francisco newspapers that had waged an all-out propaganda war against the strikers, painting them as Communists and misrepresenting the goals of the strike.


Melita M. Garza

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

San Antonio Stories: News Frames of Wanted and Unwanted Mexicans in the Great Depression


This research uses framing theory to examine English-language and Spanish-language newspaper coverage in San Antonio, Texas, about Mexicans and immigration at a pivotal time: the aftermath of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the first months of the Great Depression. The study evaluates news coverage on the cusp of U.S. government measures that forced the repatriation and unconstitutional deportation of potentially one million Mexican Americans and Mexicans in a "racial expulsion program" second only to the nineteenth-century Native American Trail of Tears. The paper assesses whether the Express and La Prensa reflected a U.S. economy divided by culture, with newspaper language serving as a proxy for culture. The findings show the newspapers shared a southwest regional agribusiness frame, reflecting a divide with East Coast policy makers seeking to restrict Mexican labor. But La Prensa also framed Mexicans as thinkers and citizens, auguring a profoundly different future political economy.


William Gillis “The Voice of the No-Longer Silent Majority”: The St. Louis Citizens Informer Fights Liberalism, The News Media, and “Forced Integration” in Boston, 1971-1976


The Citizens Informer wasa monthly newspaper published by the St. Louis chapter of the Citizens’ Councils of America. In the 1970s itwaged war on liberalism by criticizing civil rights programs that it argued penalized whites and rewarded minorities, and blamed blacks for violent crime. The Citizens Informer fought court-ordered busing, which it considered “forced integration.” The newspaper supported busing opponents in Boston, and argued that the “liberal” news media treated anti-busers unfairly. Prominent anti-busers, including members of the Boston city council, welcomed the Citizens Informer’s support. Boston anti-busers distributed the Citizens Informer at marches and rallies, and hosted visits by members of the St. Louis Citizens’ Council. Though Boston anti-busers publicly claimed they were not racists, privately they praised the white-supremacist views of the Citizens Informer. This study argues that the Citizens Informer provided a vital link that connected racially conservative whites in St. Louis and Boston.


Nick Gilewicz

University of Pennsylvania

“Dinosaurs Don’t Live Here Anymore”: History, Memory, and Mythmaking in the Philadelphia Bulletin’s Final Edition


Relying upon newspapers as historically accurate documents is problematized for many of the same reasons that historians and sociologists have problematized journalistic objectivity. A textual analysis of the January 29, 1982 Philadelphia Bulletin—that newspaper's final edition—reveals that journalists turned to self reflexive commemorative formulations to cover the demise of their newspaper. In addition to reporting on the closing, journalists also revisited the Bulletin's history, then repurposed and represented that history as they attempted to craft the first authoritative in-depth assessment of the social meaning of their work and of their newspaper. Additionally, the final edition of the Bulletin is of a class of memory texts that fully collapse the distance between the commemoration of an event and the event itself. "Anniversary journalism" and "commemorative journalism" are concepts insufficient to include this class. This paper proposes a move to "summary

journalism," which may more fully encompass how journalists practice memory work.


Carrie Teresa Isard

Temple University

Champion Jack: Celebrity and Collective Representation in the Early 20th Century Black Press


In the early twentieth century, black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson was determined not only to step over the color line, but to pulverize it.  His professional success made him a hero for many in the black community, but his public relationships with white women and troubles with the law alienated many in the black press who thought that a black celebrity of Johnson’s caliber should carry with him the responsibility of representing the best of the black race.  Against the backdrop of Jim Crow and the widespread lynching of black men, Johnson emerged as a powerful yet controversial voice of the black community.  This study considered 1,005 articles from The Washington Bee, The Chicago Defender, The Cleveland Gazette, The Baltimore Afro-American and The Savannah Tribune from November 1909 to April 1915 in order to understand the struggles of the black press in supporting Johnson through his tumultuous life and career. 


Paulette D. Kilmer

University of Toledo

Melancholy Shades of News: Ghosts as Archetypal Penitents, Seekers, and Menaces


Besides their entertainment value, ghost stories in nineteenth century newspapers combined folk-literature archetypes with details that evoked cultural mores and offered insights into survival in an often dangerous if not hostile landscape. No matter where people lived, they lost loved ones to diseases, accidents, and disasters, which increased the appeal of spooky coverage. Ghost stories offered a stage for rehearsing the consequences of broken promises, unwise decisions, and gullible assumptions.  The researcher selected articles from hundreds available via the New York Times Proquest database and thousands in the Newspaper Archive between 1851 and 1900.  The investigator used qualitative methods to analyze recurring motifs from items structurally similar to news reports and not the formula fictional short stories that amused readers.


Erica Kight

University of Florida

The Miami Herald Coverage of the Mariel Boatlift: How a Mass Emigration Movement Made Headlines in 1980


In 1980, more than 125,000 people fled Cuba and resettled in the United States. Most called Miami, Florida, their new home. The mass migration proved controversial in the U.S. and dominated headlines in national and local media for several months. This is a look back at The Miami Herald's news coverage of the Mariel boatlift in 1980 -- specifically during the initial months of the migration. A review of the literature revealed little research in this area with only a few quantitative studies calling the Herald biased in its coverage. This research takes a qualitative, historical approach to better understanding the coverage in the Herald at that time. A detailed textual analysis of the content in question revealed that there were few signs of bias by the newspaper against Cubans -- at least, during the initial months. The paper also points to areas of other potential research of this time in journalism history.


Linda Lumsden

University of Arizona

Newspaper by Committee: Counter-Hegemonic Functions of the Socialist Daily The [New York] Call


This paper uses cultural historical research methods to analyze the functions of The Call, an overlooked but important periodical during the turbulent decade before World War I, when it was the East's only Socialist daily newspaper in English. Sources include the microform edition of the newspaper, archival papers, other contemporary periodicals, and secondary sources on the decade’s new media and labor history, which historian Michael Cohen calls “the bloodiest of any western industrialized nation.” The Call was part of a counter-hegemonic radical press whose mission radical media historian John Downing describes as “to disrupt the silence, to counter the lies, to provide the truth.” The Call has been relegated to the footnotes, perhaps in part because its microform edition is somewhat illegible and most of its records have disappeared. This article attempts to locate and contextualize The Call’s role in the vibrant prewar radical press.


Kimberley Mangun

University of Utah

“A Giant in Birmingham”: Editor Emory O. Jackson and the Fight for Civil Rights in Alabama in 1950


Emory Overton Jackson has been called a “rare editor” who was “born for battle.”

Among other things, he stood up to Police Commissioner “Bull” Connor and helped Autherine Lucy integrate the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Despite his participation in the Civil Rights Movement and a forty-year career with the biweekly Birmingham World, one of three papers owned by the Scott family, Jackson remains an understudied figure in journalism history and African-American history.

This qualitative paper focuses on one year, 1950—a pivotal period for Jackson and the fight for civil rights in Birmingham—and analyzes all articles, editorials, and advertisements published in the World to determine how the editor advocated for justice in three areas: education, voting rights, and the city’s unsolved bombings. Sources were examined using critical discourse analysis and narrative analysis, methods that enable researchers to consider the various structures that affect how texts are produced and consumed.


Jon Marshall

Northwestern University

The First Lady of the Black Press vs. Joseph McCarthy: Ethel Payne’s Coverage of the Annie Lee Moss Hearings


Ethel Payne was called the “First Lady of the Black Press” and honored as a “Newsman’s Newsman.”  A reporter for the Chicago Defender from 1951 to 1978, Payne earned acclaim covering the White House, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War.  Her first big national story, however, was her bold coverage of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s accusations against Annie Lee Moss, a mild-mannered Army clerk.   Historians have extensively documented the roles that Edward R. Murrow, Drew Pearson, and other prominent journalists played in drawing the public’s attention to McCarthy’s bullying and falsehoods.  Less well-known are Payne efforts to challenge and even mock McCarthy.  This paper will examine Payne’s coverage of the Annie Lee Moss case, discuss its impact on McCarthy’s eventual downfall, and explore what it means for our understanding of the role of female reporters and the black press during the 1950s.


Cristina Mislan

Pennsylvania State University

Internationalizing Blackness: Marcus Garvey and The Negro World


In the late 19th century, journalism became an important liberating tool for the black world. Black journalists began to employ writing as a mechanism for expressing activism, calling for the liberation of black communities worldwide and correcting mainstream perceptions of black inferiority. Such a backdrop serves as the foundation for examining the rise of Marcus Garvey and the international scope of his publication The Negro World. Garvey is primarily known for developing the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the “Back to Africa” movement—which emphasized the importance of African culture and heritage to challenge mainstream interpretations of racial inferiority and to elevate the status of black citizens worldwide. This paper primarily seeks to reveal how Garvey’s organization, political messages and writings in The Negro World, from 1924 to 1925, further promoted black internationalism as a movement that had political, economic and social implications for black communities worldwide.


Nicole Maurantonio

University of Richmond

Photographic “Proof”: Police, Black Panthers, and the History of Lynching in the United States


Combining visual analysis with a close textual reading of letters to the editor and editorials, this paper examines Elwood Smith’s 1970 photograph of Black Panthers being strip searched by Philadelphia police and the range of interpretations the image evoked. I argue that the photograph, and more specifically the naked bodies of the Panthers, functioned metonymically, standing in for the history of lynching within the United States.  The ways in which that history was appropriated, however, varied widely. Readers saw the bodies of the Panthers as either signifying racial injustice or a sacrifice necessary to ensure security.  These interpretive lenses, set in relation to editorials in the Philadelphia Daily News, where the photograph first appeared, highlight the ways in which the image catalyzed public discourse surrounding the implications of police authority and the rituals of violence endemic throughout urban areas across the United States.


Gwyneth Mellinger

Baker University

Objectivity Through a Dixie Prism: The Political Mission of the Southern Education Reporting Service


This paper examines southern editors’ use of journalistic objectivity as tool of political resistance following the Brown decision. Specifically, the analysis explores ways in which the Southern Education Reporting Service, founded to provide objective coverage of school desegregation, in fact reported the story from white and southern perspectives.  This historical analysis, which draws on archival correspondence from editors involved with the SERS, demonstrates that the reporting service, despite its objectivity mission, served political and ideological ends.  Objectivity, as employed by the SERS, demanded that equal coverage be given to those on both sides of the race issue and that segregation and integration be treated as equally rational choices, even following the Supreme Court’s declaration that separate-but-equal public schools were unconstitutional. As a result, the SERS’ concept of objectivity was a defense of the racial status quo in the pre-Brown South.


Lisa M. Parcell and  Margot Opdycke Lamme

Wichita State University and University of Alabama

“Not Merely an Advertisement”: Purity, Trust, and Flour, 1880-1930


This study examines how advertising promotions addressed the purity of patent flour, a consumable maligned by the pure food movement and other health advocates for corrupt and contaminated production processes. Targeted to homemakers and commercial bakers alike, the ads examined here compare the Gold Medal and Pillsbury brands from 1880 to 1930, a period which saw the rise of national brands, the growth of national advertising, the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, and the educational and regulatory efforts of the FDA. It was found that these companies leveraged those criticisms to develop a long-term campaign that tapped contemporary cultural concerns not only to sell product but also to educate consumers about purity, health values, and domestic success. In the process, these promotions also sought to extend consumer trust in the product to trust in the brand and the company itself using traditional, placed media and other methods to reach into consumers’ homes and kitchens.


Scott Parrott

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

As people they deserve better: Mental illness in American print media, 1945-1963


This study examined how national newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, and national magazines, including Time and Life, covered mental health care and mental illness between the end of World War II and 1963. The paper argues that these elite publications possibly nurtured public acceptance of the transition toward community-based mental health care by (a) helping lessen the stigma attached to mental illness and mental health care, (b) humanizing people with mental illness, (c) condemning public mental hospitals as overcrowded, ineffective, and outdated, and (d) endorsing community-based treatment.


Jason Peterson

Berry College

A Closed Incident: Mississippi Newspaper Coverage of Jackson State College’s 1956-1957 Basketball Season


From 1956 through 1963, Mississippi observed the unwritten law, a gentleman’s agreement that prevented the state’s college and university sports teams from participating against integrated competition. While multiple challenges emerged during the eight-year existence of this segregational athletic standard, the only one posed by a minority institution came from the Jackson State College basketball team in 1957. The Tigers, who compiled a 23-2 regular season record, were forced to withdraw from the small NCAA national championship tournament due to the presence of integrated squads. This paper examines the newspaper coverage in the Magnolia State of the JSC Tigers during the 1956-57 season. While other threats to the unwritten law had generated a combination of outrage and silence on behalf of the press, Mississippi’s mainstream, white-dominated newspapers published little material on the JSC team and offered few opinions on the possible violation of the unwritten law. Furthermore, while past historians have argued that the black press was more cognizant of the social significance of the integration of sport, Percy Greene and the Jackson Advocate did little to validate the JSC’s contention for a national championship, covering the exploits of the Tigers in a neglectful manner.


Erika Pribanic-Smith

University of Texas at Arlington

South Carolina’s Rhetorical Civil War: Unionist and Free Trade Presses During the Nullification Crisis, 1832-1833


Debates in South Carolina’s partisan newspapers during the Nullification Crisis demonstrated that infighting between the state’s own political factions was even more prevalent and violent than the state’s complaints against the North and the federal government.  This paper offers a close examination of South Carolina newspapers from the passage of the Tariff of 1832 (which instigated the call for a Nullification Convention) until the passage of a Compromise Tariff and ensuing repeal of the Nullification Ordinance in 1833.  Analysis of editorials and letters published throughout South Carolina during that time demonstrates the power of the partisan press.  Free Trade rhetoric convinced the South Carolina voters to select legislators known to favor nullification, and the language in Free Trade and Unionist newspapers indicated the dangerous level to which the political argument had risen. The battle of words was so intense, it led to threats of civil war within the state.


Amy Ransford Purvis

Indiana University

Roy W. Howard and the Early American Newspaper Guild: One Publisher’s Approach to the Unionization of Journalists in the 1930s


This study explores the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain's attitude toward the formation of the American Newspaper Guild and how its management reacted to the evolution of the Guild over the period of 1933–1936. To do so, it focuses on Roy W. Howard, the chain’s head during this time period. Despite the chain's pro-labor, pro-working class orientation, Howard did not support the American Newspaper Guild. However, close examination of Howard's correspondence reveals that while he opposed the unionization of editorial workers, meaning affiliation with a national trade union, he was quite supportive of their efforts to improve their economic situation and working conditions.


Amber Roessner and Matthew Broaddus

University of Tennessee

The Sinners and the Scapegoat: Public Reaction to Mae West’s Adam & Eve Skit in the Press


After appearing in a controversial “Garden of Eden” skit on NBC’s Chase & Sanborn Hour in December 1937, Hollywood icon Mae West was placed at the center of a firestorm about indecency over the airwaves. Much of the prior scholarship surrounding the broadcast has focused on the ripple effect that it had on the radio industry and the ensuing debate over the government’s role in broadcast censorship. Instead, this study explores reaction in the press in the weeks following the “Adam & Eve” skit to gain insight into the religious atmosphere in Depression-era America. Using a cultural studies approach, this student examines reaction to the broadcast in approximately 100 news stories, columns, and editorials that ran in more than 20 newspapers and magazines in the month following the skit.


Stephen Siff

Miami University

R. Gordon and Valentina Wasson and the late 1950s News Media Craze over Hallucinogenic Mushrooms


Appearing within a week of each other in May 1957, articles in Life and This Week magazines heralding the discovery of hallucinogenic, “magic mushrooms” in Mexico triggered an avalanche of news stories about this strange new drug. This study uses archival records and media reports to explore how the mushroom hunters who wrote these articles, R.  Gordon Wasson and Valentina Wasson, exploited the press to gain maximum attention. By controlling access to their photographs and story, by casting their discovery as a personal voyage, and by tapping into a growing interest in psychedelic drugs, the Wassons whipped up a media storm in the late 1950s. The coverage resulted in a tourism boom to remote parts of Mexico as Americans who read media accounts of these magic mushrooms sought to try the drug.


Michael S. Sweeney and Patrick S. Washburn

Ohio University

“Ain’t Justice Wonderful”: The Chicago Tribune, Its Battle of Midway Story, and the Government’s Attempt at an Espionage Indictment in 1942


This paper provides the most complete examination to date of the White House’s attempt to punish one of its most prominent critics during World War II. It is the first to detail the extent of doubts at the highest levels of government about whether the prosecution could succeed. This paper is the first to examine the Chicago Tribune’s preparations for a defense against a possible Espionage Act indictment, through the first examination of the Tribune lawyers’ files. It also is the first to reveal the secret debate and vote of the grand jury that narrowly decided against an indictment.  It concludes that reporter Stanley Johnston acted more professionally than his editor, J. Loy Maloney, in producing the controversial Battle of Midway story. It also concludes that the White House acted with bias against the Tribune in pushing for prosecution despite early, repeated warnings that it could not win the case.


Riva Brown Teague

University of Southern Mississippi

Revolt, Resistance, and Retaliation: Mississippi Spies and the Demise of The Kudzu


The Kudzu newspaper began publishing in Jackson, Mississippi, on September 18, 1968, during a time of racial and political unrest across the state, nation and world. The Mississippi Student News Project began publishing this underground, counter-culture newspaper, which was the only one of its kind in the state. During the nearly four years of the newspaper’s existence, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission spied on The Kudzu, interfered with its circulation and distribution, and kept extensive files on the publication and its founders. Few media history scholars have written about the Sovereignty Commission’s interaction with journalists. This paper argues that because The Kudzu’s young, white staff of Mississippians reported on and participated in the statewide “black movement for liberation,” they suffered unjust psychological, physical and financial harassment because of the Commission, as well as federal, state and local law enforcement authorities, which ultimately resulted in the newspaper’s demise in May 1972.


Bernell E. Tripp

University of Florida

Violence v. Rhetoric: The Impact of Prigg v. Pennsylvania on 1840s Abolitionist Strategies


Beginning in the 1840s, many free northern states demonstrated their hostility to slavery by enacting laws designed to frustrate Southern slave owners hunting fugitives. Outraged at these laws, slaveholders argued that existing federal laws gave them the right to reclaim slaves without state interference. Prigg v. Pennsylvania was the first Supreme Court decision to interpret the constitution’s fugitive slave clause and the constitutionality of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act.

This study examines abolitionists’ reaction to the Prigg decision, as well as subsequent unified attacks against slaveholders’ influence on lawmakers. This study postulates that outrage over the 1842 Prigg decision, which upheld the 1793 Act provisions, forced black leaders to choose violent resistance as a viable alternative to pacifistic tactics. Opposition to Prigg, a decade earlier than previous theories of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law as the turning point, sparked the first rumblings of violent resistance among abolitionist leaders.


Martha Davis Vignes (student)

University of South Alabama

Civil Rights and Africatown, U.S.A.: Local Media Coverage of the People and the Place from 1960-1991

Long ignored by the local press for almost 100 years, by the 1970s the Mobile Register and Press was in full pursuit of news about an historic village settled by native Africans around 1868 – just north of downtown Mobile, Alabama and known as Africatown. This article examines how the local news media covered events about and in Africatown from 1960 – 1991 and extends the research of a previous study of how the media reported the landing of the slave ship Clotilda and the modest settlement of Africatown from 1860-1960. The reasons surrounding the new media interest inspired the current research which reveals a gradual change in editorial perspective toward race relations in Mobile beginning in the late 1940s. This was an important indication of successful communication strategies employed for years by groups such as the Harlem Renaissance writers, the national Civil Rights Movement, and newly formed local grassroots efforts.

Tim Vos and You Li University of Missouri

Selling Advertising: An Early History


This study examines how advocates of advertising overcame antipathy to advertising practices to become a dominant institution in the middle decades of the 19th century.  By building on the theoretical insights of historical and sociological institutions, the study examines the ways in which discourse and discursive strategies were used by proponents of advertising to establish the legitimacy of advertising.  The study, drawing on a range of historical documents, finds that discourse about the propriety of advertising underwent significant changes from the 1820s to 1870.  Even when promoting its benefits, early proponents of advertising seemed deferential to an imaginary interlocutor who was critical of advertising.  However, later advocates of advertising tapped into the legitimating discourse of systematic manufacturing and business operations to emphasize that a new kind of advertising suited a new kind of enterprising businessman.

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