History 2017 Abstracts

Archiving India’s Thriving News Media: A Case Study of Digitized Historical and Current News from India • Deb Aikat, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill • India’s newspaper market is the largest in the world and this study compares digital archives of India’s print media in databases of Dow Jones Factiva, LexisNexis Academic, NewsBank and ProQuest based on inputs from archivists at the Center for Research Libraries, the Library of Congress and the British Library among other libraries. Lack of visual content and sparse broadcast content characterize the otherwise captivating repertoire of 794 digitally curated publications analyzed in this study

From Fiasco to Canon: The Fall and Rise of the Commission on Freedom of the Press • Stephen Bates, University of Nevada, Las Vegas • The Hutchins Commission’s A Free and Responsible Press (1947) is a media-studies classic, but archival materials show that the Commission was, as one member observed, “a mess.” Robert Hutchins missed nearly a third of meetings. The director mismanaged the staff and overspent the budget. At Time Inc., which funded the project, an executive called it a “$200,000 disaster.” Then at the last minute, Hutchins reengaged, rewrote the report, and persuaded everyone to sign.

The Selling of the Selling of the War: A Public Relations Historical Case Study of “Prelude to War” • Ray Begovich, Franklin College • Using primary sources from the National Archives, this paper describes key elements of the 1943 public relations campaign used to promote the theatrical release of the Frank Capra-directed Prelude to War, the first of the U.S. government’s Why We Fight military training films made public. This historical case study shows that Hollywood and the U.S. government closely cooperated in using communications tactics commonly used by public relations professionals today.

Colonization and Cornish: A Blueprint for Freedom’s Journal • Kenneth Campbell, University of South Carolina • Little is known about the early background of Samuel E. Cornish, senior editor of Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper, founded in 1827. An analysis of the colonization protest by free blacks while Cornish was studying for the ministry in Philadelphia between 1816 and 1822 and his later move to New York before starting the newspaper shows that Cornish and the newspaper might have deeper anti-colonization roots than previously believed, initiating the Black Freedom Struggle.

The CSI Imaginary: British newspaper coverage of the beginnings of modern criminal forensics and ‘trace’ evidence • Brian Carroll, Berry College • This paper, part of a larger project that interrogates the crime scene as it has been portrayed in television, novels, and newspapers, explores the origins of what has become a shared understanding of contemporary CSI by focusing on the crime scene as a symbolic artifice. In particular, this paper uses the accounts and descriptions in English newspapers of homicide investigations to locate the formation of conventions for and about crime scenes, and in particular for the PI (principal investigator) or IO (investigating officer). Murder investigations were chosen because they are not surprisingly the best documented of forensic investigations, a result of the public attention they have historically commanded. Murder sells newspapers, as the rise of yellow journalism in the United States underlined. The study, therefore, aims to open up a window on the beginnings of criminal forensics, a history that can aid better understanding of the forensic world that inspires so much programming, coverage, and culture today. As its methodology, this study examines the attention paid to CSI by English reporters, editors, and correspondents who offered the first draft of forensics history in covering what were high-profile murders.

Unveiling the “Sick Elephant”: CIA Public Relations and the Soviet Economic Forecast Controversy of 1964 • Matthew Cecil, Minnesota State University, Mankato • The Central Intelligence Agency’s failed 1964 effort at Cold War public relations demonstrates how assertive public communication that undermines a foundational principle of an organization (in this case, secrecy) can do substantial harm to its public image. A study of the event also shows the limited capacity of the agency’s small Office of Public Affairs, particularly in contrast with the FBI’s massive public relations office, the Crime Records Section.

The Press of the Mississippi Territory, 1798-1817 • David R. Davies, University of Southern Mississippi • This paper examines the pioneering printers and newspapers in the Mississippi Territory from the territory’s founding in 1798 until statehood in 1817. Generally, historians have ignored the early Mississippi press. With the exception of a few specialized and limited studies published in state historical journals, historians have ignored the press of the Mississippi Territory ever since the second edition of Isaiah Thomas’s History of Printing in America, published in 1874, summarized it in just one sentence. Yet, state histories of early printers and newspapers can provide valuable insights into the unique circumstances of press development on the frontier. The press developed differently, of course, in each territory and state according to the highly individualized circumstances of each. This paper explores the unique circumstances of press development in the Mississippi Territory, particularly the territory’s pioneering printers and newspapers and their political entanglements.

Terry Pettus and the 1936 Seattle Newspaper Strike: Pivotal Success for the American Newspaper Guild • Cindy Elmore, East Carolina University • The American Newspaper Guild was struggling for life when journalist Terry Pettus wrote his 1935 letter requesting to join. Pettus then successfully recruited journalists throughout the Northwest to the ANG. He launched, then advised the Seattle Newspaper Guild throughout its successful 1936 strike against William Randolph Hearst. Pettus’ actions were pivotal to Guild successes, which had national implications for the ANG. Yet he later paid a high price for his work on the Guild’s behalf.

The Katyn Cold Case: The Press and the Madden Committee • Timothy Roy Gleason, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh • The emergence of the Cold War in the 1950s led to an American investigation of the Soviet Union’s Katyn massacre of Polish officers. This paper examines journalists’ pressure on Congress to conduct an investigation, cites news coverage of the Madden Committee, and relies on the Madden report and intelligence documents to offer insights. As one of the first products of the Cold War, the investigation’s thorough and deliberate approach was a contrast to McCarthyism.

Not Your Grandpa’s Hoax: A Comparative History of Fake News • Julien Gorbach, University of Hawaii Manoa • Fake news is hardly new in journalism, and a sense of historical perspective is clarifying. A recent, quick overview in Columbia Journalism Review has pointed to some superficial similarities in hoaxing over the ages “in editorial motive or public gullibility, not to mention the blurred lines between deliberate and accidental flimflam.” It cautions that people may be overreacting to “macro-level trends” that are do not indicate real, significant changes in the media. But before we rush to downplay the significance of this recent spate of hoaxing, it is worth reviewing the history more carefully.

Abuse of a “Great Power”: An Examination of Twentieth-Century Advertising Criticism in the United States • Nicholas Hirshon, William Paterson University • The persuasive character of twentieth-century advertising made a lasting impact on American culture and consumerism. This historiographical study uses textual analysis to examine more than a dozen seminal books on the advertising industry, as well as primary sources such as advertisements for major American brands and articles in newspapers, magazines, and trade publications, to identify dominant themes and variations in twentieth-century criticisms of advertising in the United States.

‘Jack and Jill’ Be Nimble: Acknowledging the Historic Use of Nontraditional Advertising in an “Adless” Children’s Magazine • Steven Holiday, Texas Tech University • ‘Jack and Jill’ is viewed as a historically adless children’s magazine that protected readers from the “seething complications of commercial pressure” from its first issue in 1938 until 1963. Using the historical method, the present research analyzes primary and secondary sources to identify that the magazine actually included a prosocial form of nontraditional advertising throughout World War II that went unacknowledged by publishers, editors, and historians, but may have influenced its young readers.

How many biscuits can you eat this mornin’?Martha White’s sponsorship of country music radio and TV shows • Lance Kinney, University of Alabama • “How many biscuits can you eat this mornin’?”: Martha White Flour’s sponsorship of country music radio and television show broadcasts. In June 1953, an unlikely partnership of hillbilly musicians and sophisticated businessmen began a mutually beneficial marketing communication relationship that helped bluegrass music flourish as a musical style while simultaneously building a multi-million dollar food brand. This research will detail Martha White Flour’s brand 1953 – 1969 sponsorship of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs & the Foggy Mountain Boys, arguably the world’s best-known bluegrass band. The thesis is that the visibility supplied by the sponsoring brand, via tour and live appearance support, along with radio show and television show sponsorship allowed bluegrass to move from a regional, vernacular music to an international phenomenon. Early country music brand marketing via sponsor brands is described, along with the support Martha White Flour provided to Flatt and Scruggs. Conference presentation will include screening portions of Martha White-sponsored television programs, along with the display of other Martha White-related marketing communication memorabilia.

Abolitionist Aggregator: Collective Action Frames in the British Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter, 1825-1833 • Linda Lumsden, University of Arizona • This paper explores the significance of the Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter, an innovation in social movement media that under founding editor Zachary Macaulay was critical to the British abolition movement that ended slavery across the British Empire in the 1830s. The paper analyzes the Reporter’s functions and contents through the lens of social movement theory, specifically how it used the three components of collective action frames described by scholar William Gamson: injustice, agency, and identity.

Life as a club: the careers of junior reporters in U.S. newsrooms from 1920 to 1960 • William Mari, Northwest University • Among the various groups in the newsroom workforce of the twentieth century, the large pool of reporters was marked by an intense degree of stratification and diversity of both agency and ability. Ranging from the humble cub, only recently lifted out of the hopeful but even lowlier office-support role and routine of the copy boy or girl, to the exalted and powerful columnist (and his or her more faraway cousin, the correspondent), reporters were “peers” in the sense that they all gathered or created content for the newspaper and found themselves enmeshed in a newsroom hierarchy over which they had minimal managerial control. How young reporters in American newsrooms cooperated and competed with one another, negotiated differences in age, gender, race, experience, education and political belief, and formed their own internal working routines and culture, will be the subject of this study. Because “cubs,” as these reporters were called, represented changing trends in journalism education, technology adoption and even gender norms, they are worth a closer reexamination. As the careers paths of journalists continue to change in the early twenty-first century, exploring how reporters entered and became accustomed to the occupation in a similar time of upheaval remains a useful exercise. In the early- to mid-parts of the last century, journalism was also in flux, in ways that reflect the economic uncertainty and disruption of technology in our own time. This research draws on a variety of primary sources, including then-contemporary professional literature, trade publications and memoirs.

The Socialist Journalist • Martin Marinos • Drawing on archival sources and oral interviews with Bulgarian journalists, this essay examines the role of journalists in Eastern European socialist societies. Specifically, the paper focuses on two unexplored features of the journalistic profession under socialism: the role of journalists as advocates for “the people” and the functions of socialist foreign correspondents working outside of the Eastern bloc. The goal of the paper is to complicate the traditional portrayal of socialist journalists as mere “mouthpieces” of the state.

An Idea Before Its Time: Charles S. Johnson, Negro Columnist • Gwyneth Mellinger, James Madison University • In the mid-1940s, Claude Barnett of the Associated Negro Press developed a proposal for Fisk University sociologist Charles S. Johnson to write a weekly column for daily newspapers. Had the plan succeeded as they imagined, Johnson’s column, titled “A Minority View,” would have integrated the opinion pages of the white press. This paper documents the three-year history of the column, which had the indirect backing of the General Education Board, a Rockefeller-endowed philanthropy.

The Impact of Pearl Harbor on the Japanese-Language Press in Hawai‘i • Takeya Mizuno, Toyo University • This article examines the life-changing impact of Pearl Harbor on the Japanese “enemy language” newspapers in Hawai‘i. Institution of martial law shattered their First Amendment press freedom as well as ethnic self-esteem. The sweeping arrests of staffers started from December 7, 1941. The language press was soon licensed and suspended categorically by military orders. Although a “permit” of resumption was issued later, remaining staffers had to bear not only stringent censorship, but intrusive, embarrassing propaganda.

Lincoln’s Messengers: Norman Hapgood’s and Ida Tarbell’s Biographies at the Dawn of the Progressive Era • Ronald Rodgers, University of Florida • A close reading of two biographies of Abraham Lincoln by two pillars of the Progressive Era at the dawn of that era – Norman Hapgood and Ida Tarbell – distills some notions of the ideals of Lincoln that were applicable to the living world decades after his death and at the core of the Progressive principles that helped give life and sustain the movement that confronted and sought to remedy the societal inequities of the Gilded Age

The Media’s Verdict of Jimmy Carter’s Transition Act: An Administration in Disarray • Lori Amber Roessner, University of Tennessee • This manuscript will extend the transition research of scholars such as Martha Joynt Kumar, John B. Burke, and John Anthony Maltese by examining a case study of the Carter Administration’s unprecedented transition efforts in 1976. The manuscript involved the examination of national news coverage, archival documents housed at the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, and transcripts from the Miller Center’s Jimmy Carter Presidential Oral History Project and original long-form interviews.

President Ford’s Personal Watergate: The Undermining of the Public Sphere During the Mayaguez Incident of 1975 • William Schulte, Winthrop University; Edgar Simpson; Michael DiBari, Jr. • In May 1974, Cambodian troops captured the U.S. container ship, SS Mayaguez and her crew, off the Cambodian coast, igniting a clash between the new Khmer Rouge regime and a U.S. president dealing with aftermath of Watergate and the fall of Saigon. The Mayaguez incident was initially reported as a successful rescue mission, with the Ford administration keeping silent about the forty-one U.S. military personnel who died in the operation. For five days, the Pentagon insisted that one American had been killed. Viewed through the theory of the public sphere, this study addresses how the Ford administration sought to mislead the press and public. No previous scholarship could be located on the media and its interactions with the U.S. government during the seizure of the Mayaguez. This work adds to the literature on how authorities shape public opinion. The paper examines the White House’s efforts to silence all but official sources during the four days between the seizure and release of the ship, and how those actions affected the information available for debate within the public sphere. The Mayaguez incident demonstrates how political actors can manipulate public opinion to their own ends.

Mnemonic Retrospective: A social history of collective memory studies, the first 100 years • Emil Steiner • In this literature review I explore how collective memory studies, as a body of cross-disciplinary scholarship, was formed and reformed during the last 100 years. To do so I analyze how scholars have discursively constructed collective memory, in contrast to personal memory, as an exploitation of the past in the service of present social interests particularly political and economic. I track this discourse in tandem with the term’s diffusion from obscurity to ubiquity during the second half of the 20th century. I then organize the scholarship by the types of media studied and the “mnemonic communities” that form around them. Doing so reveals how communication scholars use collective memory to differentiate themselves within the field and how they have struggled to articulate the study of memory in opposition to the dominant social scientific literature. This history indicates that the relationship between social identity and social memory is symbiotic and processual for those who exploit memory and those who study it. Based on this I conclude that collective memory is a metadiscursive process, the study of which articulates and enacts its identity.

Functionalist Explanations in Media Histories: A Historiographical Essay • Tim Vos, University of Missouri • This historiographical essay examines how functionalist explanations persist in a range of media histories and examines the logic and consequences of functionalist explanations. The essay argues that paying attention to social, cultural, economic or political contexts does not necessarily move media historians substantially closer to offering explanation. Even histories that describe structural contexts can be plagued by a persistent problem: functionalist assumptions. The essay argues this undercuts the value of historical scholarship.

A Pivotal Moment: How Press Coverage of a The Port Chicago Disaster Helped Reveal Racial Inequalities • Pamela Walck, Duquesne University • “A little more than a month after the Allies launched a stunning blow to the Germans on the beaches of Normandy, newspaper readers across the United States and Great Britain opened their papers on July 19, 1944, to find stunning headlines and staggering images of the mass destruction that had occurred overnight at the once-bustling naval station of Port Chicago. The incident was quickly labeled by the American press as the worst wartime disaster the United States had seen during World War II. News coverage of the incident also revealed deeply-seeded inequality in the U.S. military’s use of manpower through media coverage of the incident. This study found that while the mainstream press in America and Britain initially reported the impact this disaster had on African American servicemen, it quickly stopped reporting the racial element of the story. Meanwhile, the American black press took every opportunity to be more vocal about the inequalities African American servicemen suffered due to military policies. This study also argues that press coverage of the Port Chicago incident helped contribute to the desegregation of the U.S. military—pushing a tradition-based institution into the vanguard of the long civil rights movement.

“The Vilest Man in the Newspaper Business”: F. G. Bonfils’s Libel Case against the Rocky Mountain News • Ken Ward • Denver Post publisher F. G. Bonfils sued the rival Rocky Mountain News for libel in 1932. This research details the efforts of News investigative reporter Wallis Reef, who was sent out to support the News’s case by documenting Bonfils’s history of corruption. It analyzes a crucial episode in the long and consequential history of the war between the News and Post, filling out Bonfils’s tarnished biography and exploring Reef’s tenuous position as investigative reporter/private investigator.

Louis Decimus Rubin, Jr.: The History of Algonquin Books From Personal Correspondence • Jane Weatherred, University of South Carolina • Louis Decimus Rubin, Jr., (1923-2013), journalist, American literary scholar, critic, professor, writer and publisher, established Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Using previously unexamined correspondence in Rubin’s archives at the University of North Carolina’s Wilson Library, available one year after his death on November 16, 2013, this manuscript contributes to an understanding of the intellectual, social, cultural and institutional forces surrounding the history of book publishing in the United States.


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