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Media History Resources:
The Teacher's Toolbox
Syllabi, exercises, teaching materials

A project of the AJHA Education Committee

Looking for something new to use in the course you teach? These syllabi, assignments, and other resources are provided by AJHA to strengthen the teaching of journalism history. AJHA members have generously shared their ideas and resources to inspire and support your work in the classroom. If you have a syllabus or other teaching resource you would like to share, please send it to Jon Marshall of Northwestern University at j-marshall@northwestern.edu.

Go back to the main Media History Resources page.


Graduate Syllabi (.pdf or .doc downloads)

Undergraduate Syllabi (.pdf or .doc downloads)

Assignments (.pdf or .doc downloads)

  • Writing prompt, Tammy Baldwin, Southeast Missouri State University. This assignment is used during the first week or so of class to get students thinking about the place of history in our lives. It asks them to respond to Peter Stearns’ essay “Why Study History?” The assignment can also be adapted to face-to-face classroom time to generate good discussion.
  • Making History Personal, writing prompt, Jane Marcellus, Middle Tennessee State University. The goal of this assignment is to help students think about how media in the past related to the lives of real people. Students can either interview someone from another generation about their media use when they were young or imagine what their own media use would have been like if they were born in another generation.
  • Group research paper, Jane Marcellus, Middle Tennessee State University. This assignment requires groups of four to six students to write a documented historical research paper, analyzing primary and secondary source materials, about a major news event that happened in the 20th century.
  • Tracking impact assignment, Jon Marshall, Steve Duke, and Rachel Davis Mersey, Northwestern University. Students are asked to research an example of how a journalist or news outlet had an impact, positive or negative, on local, national or international events.
  • Essay prompt for "Time Machine," Jon Marshall, Steve Duke, and Rachel Davis Mersey, Northwestern University. This research assignment requires students to use primary and secondary sources to discover what journalism and media usage were like in previous centuries.
  • Essay prompt, Jim McPherson
  • Four Writing Assignments (“The Entertainment Media,” “Editorial/Political Cartoons,” “History Is All Around Us,” and “Foretelling the Future”) from History and Philosophy of American Mass Media, Tammy Baldwin, Southeast Missouri State University

Other (videos, timelines, readings, Web sites and more, pdf or doc downloads)

  • Why Study History? Short video introduction to journalism history class, Ross Collins, North Dakota State University. Ross shows this short video to catch students’ attention during the first day of his history of journalism class. He uses it to kindle student enthusiasm in media history and provide a basis for discussion of the importance of history in their daily lives. He created the video using Animoto at www.animato.com.
  • Plagiarism tutorial, Ross Collins, North Dakota State University, a video on plagiarism Collins shows to students before talking about their research paper project.
  • Intellectual History Timeline, Paulette Kilmer, University of Toledo. This timeline gives the highlights of intellectual history, including the press, from the neoclassical era to the present.
  • Timeline charts for “News – A Perpetually Evolving Social Institution, Paulette Kilmer
  • Historical Methods Lecture, a slideshow describing the research questions, methods, sources and analysis that historians use, Carolyn Kitch, Temple University
  • American Journalism: A Timeline, Chris Daly, Boston University. This timeline covers American journalism history from 1704 to 2007
  • Suggested Readings in Journalism, Chris Daly, Boston University. This extensive reading list recommends anthologies, biographies, memories, critical studies and even novels and movies about journalism.
  • Useful Web sites, David Sloan, University of Alabama. These sites are valuable to students and experienced scholars conducting research into journalism history.
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