2010 convention research paper abstracts

Listed alphabetically by name, affiliation and paper title

Edward E. Adams, Brigham Young University, and David Schriendl, Dickinson State University
Scripps-Howard's Efforts and Challenges to Avoid War with Japan, 1924 - 1941 

Roy Howard, president of Scripps-Howard, had an intriguing interest in Japan.  Between 1924 and 1941 he communicated regularly with Japanese newspaper editors and government officials. He made several trips to Japan in an effort to gain a better understanding of the tensions between U.S. and Japan. Howard lobbied diligently against American anti-Japanese legislation and worked diligently to avoid war. The Scripps-Howard owned United Press increased their coverage of Asia and battled Japanese censors to publish factual stories. Howard communicated with Chinese Nationalist Leader Chiang Kai-shek and Manuel Quezon, future Filipino President, about Japan's rising military threat. He met with President Roosevelt to offer himself as an emissary to negotiate peace between Japan and China. In the months before the onset of war, Howard and his Japanese friends came to an ideological impasse and quit communicating. On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United Press closed down their Tokyo office.    

Kaylene D. Armstrong, University of Southern Mississippi
In the Beginning: Development of Student Newspapers in the 1800s

Modern-day student newspapers at colleges and universities often serve as a training ground for future journalists. However, when those publications first started to appear in the 19th century, students weren’t looking for a place to get clips for a portfolio. They had different motives. This paper will show that student publications began as a way to provide information about the world, to fill needs of the students, to represent the college or university to the rest of the country, and to act as an agent for change. It will also offer an insight into the student newspapers in the 1800s, what they looked like and what they wrote about, all to further understand how those newspapers tried to accomplish what they set out to do. This paper extends the current research by adding a small part of the almost forgotten piece of student newspapers to the entire history of newspapers in the United States.  

Jon Bekken, Albright College
Understanding Journalism in its Social Context: Developing an Ecological Approach to Media History

This essay argues for the importance of an ecological approach to the study of journalism history and briefly reviews previous efforts to bring an environmental sensibility to the field. The mainstream of journalism history has focused upon a handful of English-language metropolitan newspapers, ignoring the vast majority of publications that served those communities -- let alone the rest of the country. Newspapers cannot be properly understood from the standpoint of individual newspapers, it is argued, but rather as a system of interwoven social relationships -- between newspapers and magazines, readers and printers, communities and ideological expectations. An ecological history of journalism would aim not only to be at least representative of the diversity of media published in the era(s) under consideration, if not comprehensive, but also to situate these media in their relationships to each other, to their audiences (individually and collectively), to local institutions and power-brokers, and within the cultural, economic and ideological constraints and expectations that shaped them.  

Elizabeth Burt, University of Hartford
Class and Social Status in the Lydia Pinkham Illustrated Ads: 1890-1900 

This paper examines the illustrated advertisements designed by J.T. Wetherald for the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company during the last decade of the Nineteenth Century. These were unique among newspaper advertisements of the period, for they used some of the techniques of the Ornamental Art Nouveau style to create rich images portraying women in a variety of social settings. The ads, produced as reading notices, in fact, were very close in style to the articles published on the women’s and society pages. The Pinkham product and advertising was aimed primarily at women in the lower- and working-classes, and those illustrated ads that spoke to working women demonstrated a good deal of respect for their courage and dignity. The majority of the illustrated ads, however, portrayed women in the middle- and upper-classes, leading us to conclude that these images allowed working- and lower-class women a vicarious thrill from experiencing life, if only for a few moments, in their shoes. By analyzing these ads, the modern reader gets a glimpse into the fears and concerns of the turn-of-the-century American woman.  

Brian Carroll, Berry College
This is IT!: The Public Relations Campaign Waged by Wendell Smith and Jackie Robinson to Cast Robinson’s First Season as an Unqualified Success

This paper reveals and examines Jackie Robinson’s little-known role as columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier during his groundbreaking first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The 24 weekly columns are placed into historical context by comparing their characterizations of the events of that season against later, fuller, more accurate accounts, from Robinson and others. Despite library shelves of research on Robinson, his life, and his legacy, the 24 “Jackie Robinson Says” columns have been almost completely ignored. The columns are identified as one prong of a three-pronged public relations campaign by Courier sports editor Wendell Smith designed to ensure Robinson’s success with the Dodgers. In addition to ghostwriting Robinson’s “Jackie Says” column, Smith championed the player’s every move in his own “Sports Beat” column, and he ghostwrote Robinson’s first autobiography, Jackie Robinson My Own Story, in late 1947. This paper also compares that first autobiography with later, more candid versions of the season’s events. Importantly, in analyzing Robinson’s columns and comparing them to other narratives of that first season, this paper will reveal what Robinson omits, or those events, topics, and questions Robinson was silent on or otherwise ignored. These absent meanings could say as much as what was signified or emphasized because language is a practice in its own right; people use language or discourse to do things, in this case to present that first season in an unrelentingly positive light.    

Matthew Corn, University of Georgia
Introducing the DVR: Popular Discourses and the Audience’s Relationship to Television

Popular press celebrated the arrival of the DVR, arguing the technology would eventually change our relationship to television through greater personalization, control, and thereby a shift in power to the audience.  However, by contextualizing and de-essentializing technology and the audience, one can identify these themes not as brought about by technology, but instead controlled and maintained within certain industrially focused parameters.  Implications for the study of digital media and the audience are then discussed.  

John Coward, University of Tulsa
The Princess and the Squaw: Native American Women in the Pictorial Press  

This paper describes and analyzes the ways that Native American women were represented in the two most significant nineteenth-century illustrated newspapers, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and Harper’s Weekly. Focusing on major visual and verbal themes, the study finds that Indian women were often placed in extreme categories, either as idealized Indian princesses or as downtrodden squaws. Young, “civilized” Indian women were sometimes represented as good mothers, like white women, but other women – squaws – were identified by the hardships of their lives, especially at the hands of Indian men. Both newspapers followed the ethnocentric prejudices of the day, representing Indian women as cultural outsiders who were only rarely newsworthy.  

Mary Cronin, New Mexico State University
Daughters of the New Revolutionary War: Representations of Women Soldiers in the Confederate Press, 1861-1864                           

This research examines how Southern editors portrayed news stories of women soldiers and female militia members during the U.S. Civil War. This paper argues that the promotion of women soldiers provided a unique opportunity for editors who sought to use their publications to promote Confederate nationalist beliefs. Women soldiers and spies were held up as exemplars of those beliefs. Stories of women soldiers also served two other important purposes: Editors used such stories to boost morale, showing that even women would fight to help their husbands, brothers, and fathers build a new nation. Stories of women soldiers also were used to shame men not in service to don uniforms and undertake their civic duty for the good of all.  

Davis Dunavin, University of Missouri
Fair-Haired Boy for Life:  Oscar King Davis's coverage of Theodore Roosevelt, 1907-1912

During the Roosevelt administration, many reporters relied on the president for information and became loyalists. New York Times correspondent Oscar King Davis was one of these loyalists. This paper explores how Davis met the challenge of covering Washington affairs in the shadow of Roosevelt. Davis’s coverage was an early test of standards for political reporters: can they accurately cover a subject when they have developed a reliance on the subject for publicity? This essay suggests that in this case, personal loyalty trumped responsibility to the public. Davis’s relationship with Roosevelt warned of the dangers professional journalists would face in covering politicians and other powerful, charismatic public figures throughout the 20th century.  

Aimee Edmondson, Ohio University
Making Whiteness: Racial Defamation and the “Negro” moniker  

This study looks at a particular category of errors in American newspapers, cases where whites were identified as black and later sued successfully for libel. The purpose of this study is to add to the knowledge of the history of American libel law and how it affected newspapers prior to 1964, when the United States Supreme Court brought libel law under the purview of the First Amendment in New York Times v. Sullivan. The author located thirty-four libel or slander cases where a white person was misidentified as black. Of these, ten are newspaper cases dating from 1900 to 1957 and are the focus of this study. Courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas agreed that it was libelous to racially misidentify a white person, even by accident. Given the prevailing newspaper practice of identifying blacks as “Negro” or “colored,” inevitably newspapers made mistakes in racial identification.    

Joseph Erba, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Radicals and Militants on campus in The Campus: City College’s newspaper coverage of the 1969 student protests

The City University of New York (CUNY) established a universal higher education system in the fall of 1970 by literally opening its doors, free of tuition, to any graduate from a New York City public high school after students from City College protested in various ways for four straight months during the 1969 spring semester. This study examines how The Campus, City College’s student newspaper, framed its reports on the events that led to the enforcement of CUNY’s open admissions policy. Framing theory suggests that news frames can influence people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors as well as make them think about an issue in a particular way. The Campus coverage of the 1969 City College riots suggested that the ideological differences within the student body population were synonymous with racial differences. Demonstrations for open admissions were framed as a minority issue as opposed to a societal issue, despite the fact that the open admissions policy was meant to allow all New York City high school graduates to enter CUNY. The 1969 City College riots represent one of these rare moments in the history of American higher education when Black and Latino students joined forces for a common goal: free and equal access to a higher education for all. Therefore, this provides us with an excellent opportunity to explore how a newspaper can contribute to inter-racial relations on a university campus.  

Michael Fuhlage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Protestant Crusade in Print: Anglo Journalists’ Representation of Mexican Catholicism in the Age of Manifest Destiny  

This paper examines the ways American correspondents from New England portrayed Mexican Catholic faith, laity, and institutions in the early antebellum period. The analysis begins with an examination of early frontiersmen’s writing about the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, then examines the work of two widely read travel writers: Richard Henry Dana Jr., who described California Hispanic life and culture during the 1830s in Two Years Before the Mast , and W. W. H. Davis, whose correspondence for the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Intelligencer and book El Gringo: Or, New Mexico and Her People provided the first extended description of New Mexico Territory for readers in the Eastern United States. Dana characterized Catholicism as a corrupting force. Davis proclaimed that the church’s hierarchy was corrupt and must be abolished, but wrote that the faith itself, its believers, and its parish priests were spiritually sound. These writers reflected the nation’s debate over whether Catholicism posed a threat to democratic institutions.  

Raymond Gamache, College of St. Scholastica
Framing Conservation:  George Bird Grinnell and the Adirondack Deer Hounding Law

Using primary source material over a thirteen-month period from November 1884 through January 1886, this paper argues that George Bird Grinnell, editor of Forest and Stream, a nineteenth century sportsmen’s journal, waged a campaign that advocated for a law to ban deer hounding ­– the use of dogs to chase deer into water where they could more easily be shot or clubbed to death – in New York state. This campaign, which became known as the Adirondack Deer Law, provides a significant case study of the role that nineteenth century sports journalism played in the formation of a conservation movement, whereby Grinnell used generic journalistic frames that shaped public opinion, changed social and individual attitudes and behaviors, and provided a lexicon for stewardship and protection of natural resources. Grinnell framed the debate about deer hounding as a conflict pitting those who cared more about their own financial interests against those interested in protecting game from a cruel and barbarous practice. He used the responsibility frame to show that states had an obligation to not only pass game protection laws but to enforce them as well. Finally, the economic frame targeted market-hunting’s devastating effect on deer population in order to prevent the kind of mass slaughter that led to the extinction of the buffalo. In effect, Grinnell showed how journalism could be used to move his age from one that readily exploited almost every natural resource to one that tempered balanced hunting practices with a conservation ethos.  

Melita M. Garza, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Pinestraw in an Evil Wind: The Novelist-Editor, the Country Weekly and the World at War, a case study of James Boyd, The Pilot of Southern Pines, N.C., 1941-1944  

This research offers a case study of an American country weekly during World War II, showing how The Pilot’s novelist-editor, James Boyd, sought to expand the golf, hunting and horse resort’s news agenda, fight on the home front for an Allied victory and keep the presses running as job printing dwindled, editors shipped off to battle and advertising shrank. Boyd’s work, particularly during the pivotal pre-Pearl Harbor period in 1941 and through his untimely death in 1944, is worth reviewing in 2010, a time when the U.S. is embroiled in two wars; discrimination persists; community newspapers still struggle; the relationship between journalists and the government continues to be debated and Boyd’s Johnny Fraser, the young hero of his Revolutionary War story, Drums, lives on through the recommended and required reading lists of many U.S. schools. Boyd’s correspondence and a purposive sample of microfilm editions of The Pilot showed how Boyd, a friend and confidante of literary figures, including Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Maxwell Perkins, fought for social change and helped a failing country weekly find a new orientation, literally and figuratively. This research contributes to the scholarship regarding the country weekly and the media’s role during the war years, demonstrating that not all bucolic voices remained conservative, insular, and anti-New Deal and that noteworthy journalism and commentary were not the exclusive province of the nation’s major metropolitan dailies.  

Keith Greenwood, University of Missouri
Photographing What She Knew: Toni Frissell’s Impact on Photojournalism

Studies of American photojournalism have featured many women photographers from many fields. Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White and Louise Dahl-Wolf are but a few of the women whose contributions to photography have been explored. Toni Frissell is often mentioned among those photographers, but her contributions have not been given serious consideration. Frissell left an imprint on multiple areas of photography over a professional career spanning more than three decades. Her work in fashion stands as a precursor to contemporary debates over body image in fashion photography, while her World War II work provides an example of creating opportunities to photograph outside of traditional publications. This paper seeks to outline Frissell’s contributions and place her among the photographers who set new standards and directions in what is considered to be photojournalism’s golden age.  

Vilja Hulden, University of Arizona-Tucson
Organized Employers and The Depiction of the Labor Movement in the Progressive-Era Press

This paper analyzes the role of organized employers in shaping press coverage of labor issues in the early 20th century, a period that witnessed intensive growth in union membership and strike activity. The paper focuses particularly on the two main business organizations of the era:  the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Civic Federation (NCF).  These organizations promoted very different views of unions, with the NAM depicting them as unprecedented tyrants that challenged employer as well as worker rights, and the NCF emphasizing the potential of moderate unions to improve workers' lives and help defuse explosive discontent.  Drawing on archival materials, newspaper and magazine articles, and the research of media scholars, I argue that the structures prevailing in the newspaper and magazine industries at the time contributed to making the press susceptible to employers' message(s) on labor.   Further, I contend that though the NAM and the NCF seemingly advocated very different positions, the ultimate effect of their public disagreements was to curb discussion on labor issues far more effectively than either organization could have done on its own.   

Paula Hunt, University of Missouri
Editing Desire in 1960s America: The Professional Practices of Cosmopolitan’s Helen Gurley Brown 

In 1965, Helen Gurley Brown took over the masthead of Hearst’s languishing Cosmopolitan magazine. Brown did not have a college degree, journalism training, or a background in publishing, but she quickly turned Cosmopolitan from a failing title into a flourishing one, and in the process created of millions of “devoted followers” known as Cosmo Girls. Brown’s arrival at Cosmopolitan came during a time of great social upheaval in the United States and challenges to the magazine business, from changing social conventions regarding sex to the advent of television. But, she did not believe that women’s magazines were addressing the needs of young, independent women like the millions who had bought her book, Sex and the Single Girl, and read her syndicated newspaper column. By examining newspaper and magazine articles, and books about Brown, Cosmopolitan, and the magazine industry, exploring social histories and women’s magazines of the era, and appraising Brown’s own writings, this paper appraises Brown’s professional practices and suggests how they contributed to Cosmopolitan’s success in 1960s America.  

Khuram Hussain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Rewriting the Struggle: Muhammad Speaks and Black School Reform

This historical analysis of the Black newspaper Muhammad Speaks draws from oral histories, public documents, private collections, Black press archives, and fifteen years of the weekly newspaper itself to examine the wider role of Muhammad Speaks in framing public discussion in Black communities on school desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s. The paper is examined for its discussion of dominant social ideas from the perspective of underrepresented voices, revealing a distinct and sophisticated counterpublic exchange of ideas. The study explores how editors and journalists employed news coverage and editorials to stage arguments regarding who schools are most answerable to, who can be entrusted to educate oppressed communities, and to what extent dominant group cultural norms should define the character of public education. Joining the conversation were Muhammad Speaks' panoply of Black contributors, including: separatists, integrationists, grassroots and civic leaders, and parents and children who demonstrated dynamic patterns of Black American thought regarding what educational reforms are best suited for liberatory ends. The study argues that Muhammad Speaks' educational discourse complicates presumed dichotomies between the educational thought of Black Americans who promoted a strategy of separatism and those who promoted a strategy of racial integration, by revealing historically important overlap between the two positions. Moreover, contributors denounced legal segregation as inherently evil and unjust yet did not consider legal desegregation to be the only means of achieving Black school improvement; nor was integration seen as the decisive end goal. Instead Muhammad Speaks' contributors aimed to redefine the priorities of school reform by calling for an education that was responsive to Black necessities, substantiated by lived Black experiences and dedicated to Black liberation. The paper's contributors further advocated for Black agency in determining the function of schooling through direct participation as teachers and school leaders and through local school governance.  

Andrew Taylor Kirk, The Park Record, Park City, Utah
Race and Space in the Chinatowns of Territorial Utah, 1869-1896

The Hegemony Theory of Antonio Gramsci is used here to interpret articles from the latter-half of the Nineteenth Century about Chinese use of space in the cities of Salt Lake City and Ogden – the two largest communities of Territorial Utah. Utah was dominated by Mormons politically, economically and religiously. Media coverage of minorities was influenced by Mormon views about race. This article examines journalism about Chinatowns, wash houses, shrines and other Chinese businesses in these Mormon-dominated communities to determine how the uniqueness of the Utah Territory created a different dynamic than that experienced in other Western communities. Many reporters from the time called Chinese immigrants pests at best and vampires at worst. For various reasons, Chinese laborers experienced more tolerance – relatively – in Utah and this work examines how the relationship between the Asian residents and the local newspapers played out. The concluding theory is that Mormon journalists used their articles to sway public opinion to support the Mormon position in the debates over use of space – to support Mormon hegemony.    

Sam Lebovic, University of Chicago
Competing with Hitler:  The Office of Censorship, Press Patriotism and Freedom of Information in the ‘Good War.’

This paper explores the ways in which the print media balanced national security prerogatives and the desire for freedom of information and the press during World War II.  Through close research with the records of the Office of Censorship, it reconstructs the everyday practices and ideologies through which information was circulated and restricted in the WWII polity.  It therefore provides a unique insight into the relationships between the press and the state during the 'good war,' and reveals that 'voluntary censorship' by the press, as mobized by "patriotic self-discipline" and professional networks, did much to restrict the free flow of information during a war fought to preserve democratic liberty.  It also reveals the historical processes through which the relationship between the liberal press and the expanding national security state was clarified, arguing that the practices of the press in the war against fascism played an underappreciated role in defining the contours of press freedom and the politics of national security for the postwar period.  

Kevin Lerner, Marist College and Rutgers University
J-School Ate Their Brains: Anti-Intellectualism in the American Press in Essays Denouncing Journalism School

This paper identifies a small but persistent genre of writing about journalism schools in the popular press—the anti–journalism school rant—and analyzes the most prominent examples of this form in relation to the notion of anti-intellectualism in the American press. The paper takes as its theoretical grounding the seminal work of historian Richard Hofstadter and uses a framework developed from Hofstadter's work by the sociologist Daniel Rigney. The paper addresses several historical texts—including essays by E.L. Godkin, A.J. Liebling and Michael Lewis—that span the entire history of the public discussion of the worth of journalism education, from 1869, when Robert E. Lee proposed the first post-secondary program of journalism education at Washington College, to the ongoing controversy over curriculum reform at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Overlaying Rigney and Hofstadter's framework highlights two particular strains of anti-intellectualism in the essays denouncing journalism schools: populist anti-elitism, stemming from the populist tendencies of mass publications; and unreflective instrumentalism, the notion that ideas are only good so long as they can be put to immediate use, in this case by the American press as an industry.  

Tracy Lucht
Life’s “American Woman”: Re-examining Gender Discourse in the 1950s

The 1950s are alternately viewed as a repressive period of domestic tranquility before the second wave of feminism or a more contentious era of gender negotiations that boiled over in the 1960s. This study seeks to reconcile the two historical perspectives by examining a 1956 issue of Life magazine dedicated to “the American woman.” The author used quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine the issue’s rhetoric and portrayals of women. Counter to some historical accounts, the issue presented a diversity of public and professional roles for white middle-class women, celebrated their accomplishments, and acknowledged their frustrations. However, the issue also demonstrated a rhetorical pattern of tradition, recognition, and negation that depoliticized the discourse in favor of an individualist ideology.  

Michael Thomas Martinez, University of Missouri
Professionalism as Practiced by the Dean of Trial Reporters

For 30 years, Theo Wilson, a reporter for the New York Daily News covered high-profile trials across America, her first one was the murder trial of Dr. Sam Sheppard in 1954 and the last one the 1984 cocaine trial of John De Lorean. This paper applies the concept of professionalism, as defined by Walter Williams’ Journalist’s Creed, to the practices Theo Wilson, dean of the trial reporters, practiced throughout her career.  

Gwyneth Mellinger, Baker University Washington
Confidential: The American Society of Newspaper Editors Goes Off the Record

This paper examines the ASNE’s practice, from about 1930 to 1954, of holding off-the-record convention sessions with U.S. presidents and other top government officials and military leaders.  Drawing upon the ASNE archive and correspondence among editors, the paper traces the history of the off-the-record meetings alongside editors’ evolving ethical sensibilities and freedom-of-information advocacy, which finally forced ASNE leaders to put all convention speakers on the record.  

Vanessa Murphree, University of South Alabama, and Karla Gower, University of Alabama
“Shall We Break This Law?” The Birth Control Review, 1917-1928  

In February 1917, Margaret Sanger introduced the Birth Control Review, which she and her editors called “the herald of a new freedom.” For the next twenty-four years, the magazine would be a leading voice for reproductive rights. This study examines the Birth Control Review’s administrative history and content and primarily traces how two central themes, eugenics and the neo-Malthusian argument (overpopulation), helped Sanger reach a broad cross section of society and place birth control on the national agenda. Because the magazine represented academic, social, and popular arguments and attitudes, the research illustrates how Sanger and her editors used a wide variety of information and sources to raise awareness, change attitudes, build support, and ultimately change behaviors and laws.    

Richard K. Popp, Louisiana State University
Making Advertising Material: Checking Departments and Imagined Consumers in Nineteenth-Century Advertising

Drawing on materials produced by many of the earliest advertising agencies along with contemporary press reports, this paper explores the cultural meaning of advertising checking files in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Checking departments gathered periodicals, examined them to ensure that ads ran as commissioned, and then archived them for future reference. I argue that in doing so, these operations materialized the nation’s diffuse print culture, bringing countless publications, produced over thousands of miles, into a central place where they could be seen and held. To modern eyes, checking appears a behind-the-scenes logistic. Early advertising agencies, however, made these departments central to the public face they showed the wider business community, touting them as evidence of the trade’s character, systematic rigor, authority, omniscience, and geographic reach. Thus exploring agency operations can shed light on how everyday work routines served a dual role as cultural performances that imbued the industry with desirable traits. And by examining how admen created monitoring systems to track their messages through time and space, we can better see how American business came to imagine thousands of scattered villages, towns, and cities as a singular, national community of consumers.  

Erika J. Pribanic-Smith, University of Texas-Arlington
Rhetoric of Fear: South Carolina Newspapers and the State and National Politics of 1830

South Carolinians declared the tariffs Congress passed in 1824 and 1828 for the protection of domestic industry unconstitutional and unfair for placing undo burden on the South while benefiting the North.  A political faction formed that saw the rights of the state as paramount and sought to protect them, to the point of rebelling against the federal government through nullification of its laws.  In response, two additional groups arose: those who aimed to preserve the Union above all, at risk of subjecting the state to measures they admitted were unjust, and those who upheld the state’s rights and Union equally, urging a moderate course until federal usurpations became so intolerable as to warrant drastic action. Each of these three groups had newspapers to advance its views. This paper studies those newspapers during the seminal year of 1830, which encompassed four key events in state and national politics that heightened the nullification debate and realigned the state’s political parties. It concludes that rhetoric from all sides preyed on fear.  

Robert Rabe, Marshall University
Marquis W. Childs and the Bomb: Liberal Journalism and the Early Debate over the Atom, 1945-1947

This paper is an examination of the writings of syndicated columnist Marquis W. Childs about the atomic bomb and controversy over control of atomic power in the immediate postwar years.  It argues that Childs was an important figure in the press commentary of the period and that his writing on the atomic controversy were influential.   Childs wrote frequently on the issue and his column ran in many important papers where opinion leaders read them.  Childs is also an important window into the thinking of postwar liberals as they sought to assert their point of view in early cold war era debates.  The paper makes use of Childs' column as it was printed in the Washington Post, which is where the nation's most powerful leaders likely read it.  Relevant material from the Marquis W. Childs Papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society are also cited.  

Wendy Swanberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Walter Trohan’s Dilemma: World War II, Censorship and MacArthur’s Secret Memo

This paper explores a seldom-recalled incident from World War II, where a high government official, FDR's Chief of Staff Adm. William Leahy, leaked a secret military memorandum to Chicago Tribune journalist Walter Trohan.  The 40-page memorandum was written by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and it outlined a series of peace overtures being tendered by officials in Japan. According to Trohan, the memo indicated that officials in Japan were prepared to surrender in January 1945, under terms Trohan described as "virtually identical" to the terms of Japan's ultimate surrender eight months later.  But the secret memo was given to FDR in January – before the battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and before the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Despite the Tribune's disdain for FDR, Trohan and the Tribune did not disclose the contents of the memo until August 16, 1945 when censorship restrictions were lifted. This essay retells the story of Walter Trohan's dilemma from the view of journalism history and ethics, and suggests lessons to be drawn about the role of wartime journalism in a free society.  

Leonard Teel, Georgia State University
Authors of Revolution: Why Fidel Castro Awarded Press Medals to Thirteen U.S. Foreign Correspondents

  This case study focuses on thirteen journalists whose widely circulated stories in print and broadcast legitimized and empowered Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution in 1957 and 1958. The paper is part of a larger study that examines the significance that American journalism’s misguided reporting has had on foreign affairs. This work carries forward the research by Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz (“A Test of the News,” 1920) and by Anthony DePalma (The Man who Invented Fidel, 2006). Under the influence of Castro and his rebels in the rugged territory of Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains, it was literally true that beguiled U.S. correspondents did not see the forest for the trees. On April 18, 1959, four months after his victorious entry into Havana, Castro personally acknowledged their essential contributions as he honored them with the revolution’s medals. The thirteen, twelve men and one woman, were correspondents for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, CBS-TV, and Time and Look magazines. A small United Press International story noted that nine of the thirteen were present to receive from Castro the specially cast medals. Each medal was engraved with the journalist’s name as a member of “the Sierra Maestra Press Mission.” (“Castro Hails Newsmen; Gives Medals to Americans Who Interviewed Him,” New York Times, April 19, 1959, 4.) 

Bernell Tripp, University of Florida
Edmonia Highgate: Reconstruction Crusader for the Christian Recorder, 1864-1870

The true value of education was never clearer to newly emancipated southern blacks than on paydays during the Reconstruction period. Cotton fields and cornfields, worked on shares, often yielded less than half their worth for black farmers, thanks to the South’s new system of agriculture and Freedmen’s Bureau agents who clearly sided with the landowners. Consequently, African-Americans demanded full access to job opportunities and a formal education as symbols of their newly acquired freedom and potential equality. The American Missionary Association was among the first northern-based organizations to respond to urgent requests to send teachers into the South. This study examines Highgate’s activities as a correspondent for the AME Christian Recorder, the official organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the oldest existing black periodical in the country, during one of the least researched periods of African-American media development. Until her untimely death in 1870, Highgate was a well-respected and esteemed educator in both the North and the South. Teaching, more than providing former slaves with knowledge and useful skills, meant providing the tools for racial uplift and a chance for future advancement of the race. Since the churches, schools, and the newspapers were critical elements in the lives of 19th-century African-Americans, analyzing Highgate’s interpretation of events and her personal experiences for the church-run Recorder provide insight into the impact of all three influences on the lives southern blacks and the teachers to whom they entrusted their greatest hopes for the future.

Debbie van Tuyll, Augusta State University
Dr. Robert W. Gibbes, Jr., and America’s First Lawsuit for Journalistic Access

In September 1857, Dr. Robert W. Gibbes, Jr., editor of the South Carolinian, filed suit against the mayor and police chief of Columbia, South Carolina after being evicted from a meeting of the City Council. The case appears to be the first ever journalistic access case in American history. Neither the attorneys who were representing Gibbes and his adversaries nor 21st century scholars have been able to find evidence of any earlier cases on the point of whether journalists have a right of access to meetings of governing boards. This case is important not only because it is the first of its kind in American history but also because it offers a rare sign-post for 19th century thinking on matters of press freedom and, in particular, the enduring question of the public’s access to the public’s business.  

Martha Davis Vignes, University of South Alabama
Secrecy, Slavery, and Southern Pride: Media Coverage from 1860-2010 of the "Clotilda" and Africatown USA

On July 10, 1860, the fast-moving schooner Clotilda, deemed by many historians as the last slave ship to the United States, sailed into Mobile Bay and up the Mobile River to a secluded landing with a load of 116 contraband Africans. Mastermind of the voyage and Mobile, Alabama, businessman Timothy Meaher arranged for the captives to hide out in the upper river canebrake for 11 days to avoid local authorities until he could make the necessary but risky arrangements with fellow planters to sell the men, women, and children in an effort to recoup his expenses. After disbursing his human cargo, the ship’s captain paid the crew and sent them on a northbound train; scuttled and burned the ship to remove any evidence; and rowed ashore. This paper investigates the controversy surrounding the event and how the 19th century press may have contributed to the incident with reports of inter-tribal wars in Africa and captive natives available for export during a time when secession debates were rampant in Alabama and federal law prohibited the importation of slaves to the United States. The apparent lack of media interest surrounding the whereabouts of the captives, once news leaked of their arrival, and the lack of media follow-up in how the Africans assimilated into American culture over the years since the Civil War may reveal how 19th century attitudes toward minorities and race relations influenced what media deemed important. The local press, since 1860, provided inconsistent reporting and allowed wide gaps in coverage of the historic event and the resulting settlement, Africatown, This paper examines if such an oversight may have contributed to the lack of restoration and preservation attempts as time, weather conditions, and poor community planning erased the majority of historic evidence of the Africans and their unique community.  

Tim Vos and You Li, University of Missouri-Columbia
The Business Side of Journalism: A History of an Occupational Norm

The study explores how a normative discourse – a discourse that posited the separation of business and editorial functions as a ‘moral ideal’ – took root in American journalism.  The study examines trade journals, publications, and books from 1875 to 1920 to explore discourse that addressed tensions between professionalism and profits and how, in the process of discussion and debate, journalists articulated an occupational norm.  

Kim Voss, University of Central Florida
Food Journalism or Culinary Anthropology?  Re-evaluating Soft News and the Influence of Jeanne Voltz’s Food Section in the Los Angeles Times

Before the success of the Food Network and the popularity of competitive cooking programs, wanna-be foodies relied on the food sections of their local newspapers for their gastronomical fix. These sections, made thick with grocery store advertisements in the 1950s and 1960s, originated in the women’s pages of metropolitan dailies across the country. The food sections of newspapers reflected gender roles, health standards, and governmental policies about food in a community. As society was changing, food editor Jeanne Voltz guided two of the most significant food sections in the country – at the Miami Herald in the 1950s and at the Los Angeles Times in the 1960s. An analysis of her work at the Times, during the heyday of the sections, shows that a women’s section was laying the foundation for food journalism years before the supposed surge in the topic. It also shows that food journalism can tell much about society at that time. This study looks at the food section of the Los Angeles Times in the 1960s and early 1970s – Voltz’s tenure.  

Brendan Watson, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Place, Race and Waste: Community Structure and Local Media Coverage of the First Environmental Justice Conflict

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Molly Yanity, Ohio University
Digging, Dodging and Daring: How WFAA-TV and the Dallas Morning News Covered the SMU Football Scandal of 1987

In February 1987, the Southern Methodist University football team received the harshest penalty the NCAA has ever delivered to a major college football program: "The Death Penalty." The NCAA learned SMU had payed thirteen players $61,000 over a sixteen-month period, resulting in the school's second major violation in a five-year period. This study details how Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV Channel 8 broke the story and how that, along with the coverage by the Dallas Morning News, served as the catalyst for the NCAA's investigation that led directly to the "death penalty."

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