2017 History Division Meeting Mintues

History Division 2017 Business Meeting Minutes, Chicago

(Printed in Clio Among the Media, Fall 2017, pp. 5-8)

By Erika Pribanic-Smith, University of Texas-Arlington
Vice Chair/Research Chair

Outgoing Chair Mike Sweeney (Ohio) called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 11.

The membership accepted the minutes from last year’s meeting as reported in the Fall 2016 Clio.

Book Award: The winner this year was Robert G. Parkinson, assistant professor of history at Binghampton University, for “The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution” (University of North Carolina Press). Book Award Chair John Ferré (Louisville) indicated that the judges selected from among 26 nominated books. Judges were Fred Blevens (Florida International), Kathy Roberts Forde (Massachusetts-Amherst), and Linda Steiner (Maryland).

Ferré described the book as “chilling and gripping,” centered on the argument that those leading the American Revolution united the colonies by turning them against a common enemy that had to be more than just England. By unifying the public against Native Americans and African-American slaves, the book argues, the nation’s founders built racism into the country’s foundation.

Parkinson said he wanted to write something about the Revolution and race, so he started by reading all the colonial newspapers. “I was really shocked about what I found,” Parkinson said, “and that’s a massive amount of material in the middle pages of the newspapers—what everyone else has overlooked.” Parkinson argued that the Revolution’s leaders needed to scare people into fighting, and they did that by preying on people’s fear and outrage.

Newspapers allowed those leaders not only to strike while the iron was hot but to keep striking, Parkinson said. They did that in part by reprinting the same items in every newspaper. Parkinson advised young researchers not to rely on databases; he said he never would have reached the argument he did if he had just “dipped in” to the available resources. “I needed to read them all, one after the other,” he said.

Covert Award: For the second time, Sheila Webb (Western Washington) received the division’s Covert Award for best mass communication history article. Her piece in Journalism Monographs, “Creating Life: ‘America’s Most Potent Editorial Force,’” was selected from among eight nominees. Webb said she became interested in Life magazine as a graduate student; she described hauling issues home from the library in garbage bags to go through them. In total, she viewed 55,000 images, of which she ultimately coded 4,500.

“I was always interested in the start-up of media forms,” Webb said. “My project was on the first decade of Life magazine, which was a new pictorial, and how does a magazine position a cultural moment in order to become the most successful magazine launch in history.”

Webb acknowledged the late James Baughman for his assistance with her research.

Conference Papers: Outgoing Research Chair Doug Cumming (Washington and Lee) reported that the division received 50 paper total paper submissions. The division accepted 28 faculty papers and 3 student submissions for a total acceptance rate of 62 percent. None of the papers had to be scrubbed for identification, which was a problem in the previous paper competition.

Each paper had three reviewers. Cumming thanked the judges for their feedback and role in the process of generating knowledge.

The following authors received awards for their work: Linda Lumsden (Arizona), first-place faculty paper; Ken Ward (Ohio), first-place student paper; Stephen Bates (Nevada, Las Vegas), second-place faculty paper; Steven Holiday (Texas Tech), second-place student paper; Kenneth Campbell (South Carolina), third-place faculty paper; Jane Weatherred (South Carolina), third-place student paper.

Elections: The membership confirmed the appointments of Teri Finneman (North Dakota State) as Secretary/Newsletter Editor and Melita Garza (Texas Christian) as PF&R Chair. These officers had been nominated by the division’s leadership. The membership made no nominations from the floor. [NOTE: The following additional appointments were made after the convention: Amber Roessner (Tennessee), Membership Co-Chair; Christopher Frear (South Carolina) and Ken Ward (Ohio), Graduate Student Co-Chairs.]

Journalism History: Frank Fee (North Carolina, emeritus) chaired an ad-hoc committee Sweeney appointed to investigate the division’s adoption of the scholarly journal Journalism History. Forde, Garza, and Will Tubbs (Western Florida) also served on the committee.

Journalism History has been operating as an independent academic journal since its inception in 1974; Sweeney has been the editor for several years. Based on its research over the past year, the ad hoc committee recommended that the division adopt the journal. Fee said that because of Sweeney’s health and the journal’s finances, Journalism History will survive perhaps 2-3 years if something is not done to secure its future.

“If we lose Journalism History, we lose a significant place for us to publish our work, which is important to the field at large for the dissemination of knowledge and to journalism history scholars for tenure and promotion opportunities,” Fee said.

Fee said the committee has identified several reasons adopting the journal can and should work. Contracting with an academic publisher would increase the journal’s profitability and provide some opportunities that the journal doesn’t have now. The committee has talked with two publishers (SAGE and Oxford) as exemplars. Interest has been lukewarm, but Fee suggested that the publishers would like to see the journal firmly in the division before moving forward.

AEJMC requires the division to show an interest and willingness to take on the journal under any circumstances (self-publishing if necessary). AEJMC would have to approve the adoption as well as any publisher contract. The AEJMC board next meets in December. Fee anticipated that the division would be ready to adopt the journal by then and possibly have a contract with a publisher prepared.

Fee said a contract with a publisher would put Journalism History on equal footing with other AEJMC divisions’ journals.

The committee proposed a two-step process: First, those in attendance at the meeting would vote on a resolution that the committee should conduct an official vote of the membership on adopting the journal. Second, the committee proposed would conduct a vote via SurveyMonkey on the question, “Should the division adopt the scholarly journal Journalism History and, if possible, contract with an academic publisher to produce it?”

Fee noted that the committee conducted a straw poll via SurveyMonkey earlier and found that 91 percent of the membership favored moving forward with adopting the journal.

Fee said Sweeney promised American Journalism Historians Association that Journalism History would not pursue a contract with Taylor & Francis, which publishes AJHA’s journal American Journalism.

In response to questions from meeting attendees, Fee noted that changes in format and flexibility would be potential trade-offs of contracting with a publisher. But, Garza added, the current model is unsustainable.

“It’s not a choice between having what we have now with the beautiful illustrations and having something else that’s not as nice visually,” Garza said. “It’s a choice between not having a journal or having a journal that’s perhaps not as pretty.”

Forde suggested creating a website where supplementary material such as illustrations could be published.

Sweeney pointed out that a publisher could attach Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to articles. He explained that DOIs are URLs that are guaranteed to persist forever, and an independent publisher cannot offer that. Sweeney said tenure and promotion committees increasingly are looking to see if candidates are publishing in DOI journals.

Fee added that an academic publisher can promote the journal better than an independent publisher can, raising the number of article downloads and citations.

“The benefits are considerable and the trade-offs as we’ve found them are insignificant in comparison,” Fee said.

Fee said if the division takes on the journal, it’s an all or none proposition; it’s not dependent on getting a contract with an academic publisher. The committee recommended that the division form a publications committee to scout the territory further and investigate other publication options.

Attendees at the meeting voted 45-0 in favor of conducting an official vote of the membership via SurveyMonkey.

Committee Reports

Teaching: Teaching Chair Kristin Gustafson (Washington-Bothell) mentioned the panel she co-organized with the Newspaper and Online News Division. She also asked that members send ideas for Clio teaching columns to her at gustaf13@uw.edu. She seeks ideas for teaching that involve diversity, inclusivity, collaboration, community, and justice.

Membership: Membership Co-Chairs Finneman and Will Mari (Northwest) reported that they focused on member relations over the past year. They featured members in Clio columns and social media posts, organized a tour at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, and facilitated Media History Engagement week, which resulted in 330 Twitter posts from 110 people and reached 40,288 followers. They also noted that membership has climbed slightly from 284 to 294.

Tom Mascaro (Bowling Green) expressed dismay at the condition of some of the media in the basement of the broadcast museum and asked if the division might encourage the museum to store their films better to preserve the history in the museum’s holdings. Sweeney indicated he would contact the museum to relay the concerns.

  1. Joseph Campbell (American) asked how many students were members of the division. Though that information was not available during the meeting, Sweeney reported after the convention that the division has 25 student members.

Website: Keith Greenwood (Missouri) reported that with the widespread use of social media, most updates to the website have been posting new issues of Clio. He noted that the website is the institutional history/archive for the division; he plans to fill in more of the division’s history over the next year to make it a more useful repository.

Financial Report: Sweeney reported that the division has just about broken even this year. The starting balance was $8,160.42, and income from dues as of Aug. 1 was $1,927.50. Expenses included the museum tour fee, a reception the division co-hosted at the convention with the Graduate Student Interest Group, plaques and certificates for award winners, and $500 each to the winners of the Covert and book awards.

New Business: The Council of Divisions proposed four cities for the 2021 AEJMC conference: Kansas City, MO, Austin, TX, St. Louis, MO, and New Orleans, LA. Sweeney mentioned that the NAACP recently had issued a travel advisory indicating Missouri may be unsafe for minorities, and the state of California had issued a travel ban that would prevent California institutions from reimbursing their faculty and students for travel to Texas (among other states) because of sexual orientation-based discrimination.

Among the points brought up during discussion were that AEJMC had a memorable meeting in New Orleans 20 years ago; other divisions had requested that the Council of Divisions provide further choices; it was unfair to paint everyone in the banned states with the same broad strokes; and the bans may be lifted by 2021.

Sweeney offered to report the vote to the Council of Divisions with “rich qualitative” comment expressing the division’s concerns. Thirty of the division members voted for New Orleans, seven for Austin, and one for Kansas City; St. Louis received no votes.

New Leadership: Effective Sept. 1, Cumming and Erika Pribanic-Smith (Texas-Arlington) are promoted to division chair/program chair and vice chair/research chair, respectively.

Cumming relayed his goals for the coming year, the first of which is to carry out the will of the membership regarding Journalism History.

The second goal is to deepen the bench for incoming officers in the years to come. He noted that the top officers hold multiple positions: chair/program chair, vice chair/research chair, and secretary/newsletter editor. In other divisions, those positions are separated, and spreading the roles among more people would lighten the load on the division’s leadership while providing more service opportunities for the division’s members.

Cumming thanked Sweeney for the tremendous help he had given him and others in the division over the past year. Cumming said he counted Sweeney among his heroes for taking on the task of division head as well as editing Journalism History while battling terminal cancer. Cumming presented Sweeney with a button he had found in the apartment of his father, who had been a Newsweek bureau chief during the Civil Rights movement. Cumming said he treasured the button, and “a real gift is when you give something that you treasure.” The button also was fitting to Sweeney; coming from James Meredith’s 1966 march in Mississippi to defy racism, the button said in large letters, “March Against Fear.” The membership met the gift with lingering applause.

Announcements: David Bulla (Augusta) announced that he and his colleague Debbie van Tuyll are reviving the defunct Atlanta Review of Journalism History, renaming it the Southeastern Review of Journalism History. They aim to publish an edition in Spring 2018 and are seeking submissions of research papers and book reviews. Bulla said the journal strongly encourages student submissions.

Cayce Myers (Virginia Tech), the division’s research chair for the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, announced that the regional conference will be March 8-10, 2018, in Tuscaloosa, AL. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 11. Details are available at https://cis.ua.edu/sec18/

Nick Hirshon (William Paterson), the division’s co-coordinator for the Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference, announced that Pamela Walck (Duquesne) is the new JJCHC co-coordinator from AJHA. They are going to continue the practice begun last year of having an early-bird deadline of Nov. 1 to receive a response by Thanksgiving. Final deadline will be Jan. 4, 2018; the conference is March 10, 2018. Details are available at https://journalismhistorians.org/

American Journalism Historians Association is meeting in Little Rock, AR, Oct. 12-14. Details are available at ajhaonline.org.

Cumming announced that during the research paper competition next year, the research chair from each division will select papers most relevant to the journalism profession and submit them to a conference-wide competition with a large cash prize.

Tim Vos (Missouri) announced that the University of Missouri Press is seeking proposals for a new book series entitled “Journalism in Perspective: Continuities and Disruptions,” which he is editing. Contact Vos at vost@missouri.edu for information.

Garza reminded members about the AEJMC Trailblazers of Diversity oral history initiative. The initiative is seeking subjects; they are particularly interested in hearing from people in public relations, journalism, and the academy who have done work to promote diversity in the profession.

About Doug Cumming

Writer, W&L journalism professor emeritus
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