2018 History Division Annual Report



Submitted by Division Chair Douglas O. Cumming, June 9, 2018

1a. Division name: History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

1b. Current Officers

Head/Program Chair

Doug Cumming
Washington and Lee University


Vice-Head/Research Chair

Erika Pribanic-Smith

University of Texas-Arlington


Second Vice Chair/Secretary (includes Newsletter Editor)

Teri Finneman

University of Kansas


Incoming Second Vice Chair (subject to vote of Division August 2018)

Will Mari

Northwest University


Teaching Standards Chair

Kristin Gustafson

University of Washington-Bothell


Personal Freedom & Responsibility Chair

Melita Garza

Texas Christian University



Membership Chairs

Will Mari

Northwest University



Amber Roessner

University of Tennessee



Grad Student Liaisons

Christopher Frear

University of South Carolina



Kenneth Ward

Ohio University



Book Award Chair

John Ferré

University of Louisville


Covert Award, Chair

Nancy Roberts




Joint Journalism & Communication History Conference

Nick Hirshon

William Paterson



AEJMC Southeast Colloquium History Division Research Chair

Cayce Myers

Virginia Tech




Keith Greenwood
Missouri School of Journalism




  1. Annual Demographic Form. See attached file: 2018_HIST DIV demographic_form. [Please add “History Division” to top of this form.]


  1. Overall statement weighting the division or interest group’s activities for this year in the Research, Teaching and PF&R areas.


As division head, I would weight our 2017-18 activities outlined below as follows: Research 60%; Teaching 20%; Professional Freedom and Responsibility 20%. If there is an imbalance, it is only for this one year because the most challenging and preoccupying activities were related to taking on the peer-reviewed quarterly Journalism History, which has operated independently since 1974, and naming its new editor. The division’s officers also spent time working out significant proposed changes to our bylaws and discussing difficulties that have come with the popularity of a joint media history conference we co-sponsor. These activities I would characterize as largely if not entirely research oriented. At the same time, a re-formating of our newsletter Clio Among the Media from a PDF quarterly to a monthly e-newsletter carries weight for all three areas, which each produce columns for the newsletter. Also, we are sponsoring conference panels from all three areas, as can be seen in the following reports.

  1. What are your most important goals for the upcoming year?
    • We will continue to facilitate the transition of the academic journal Journalism History from an independent publication to the division’s official journal. Further details on this process so far are outlined under RESEARCH below and in last year’s annual report.
    • A solid foundation of young historians will bolster our division and ensure its future. Therefore, the incoming chair aims to increase student involvement in the History Division by encouraging a more active graduate student committee, reaching out to universities (including both mass communication and history departments) that typically are not represented on the summer and spring conference programs, and publicizing financial awards available to student presenters.
    • The division has for many years co-sponsored the Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference with the American Journalism Historians Association. The once-small conference has experienced growing pains, and its chief organizer is nearing retirement. During the coming year, the division aims to work with AJHA officers and JJCHC organizers to institutionalize the spring event, thus ensuring its future, and improve its function, especially the research paper submission and review process.
    • As history becomes an increasingly lower priority in journalism and communication curricula, it is important to emphasize that our division’s scholars have as much impact in the classroom as they do in the research community. As proposed by our teaching standards chair, the division will explore establishing a teaching competition to highlight best practices in history pedagogy.

What goals did your group set this year that you were unable to reach? Why?

  • We have accomplished all goals set for 2017-2018, although the transition of Journalism History is ongoing. The two other goals set last year by incoming head Doug Cumming related to developing a deeper “bench” among membership for serving as officers and distributing the work load (e.g. Research chair, Program chair, newsletter editor, etc.) more broadly and giving those roles more than a year’s tenure, where appropriate. The idea was to make leadership of the division more deeply experienced and more sustainable over the long run. These goals are met by a number of proposed changes in our bylaws as the three officers agreed on, and sent to membership in June for discussion and vote at our business meeting at the conference in August.

How may any or all of the Standing Committees help you to achieve your goals in the coming year?

  • The Publications Committee might be able to assist our continuing effort to find a satisfactory arrangement with an academic publisher for the division’s newly acquired scholarly journal, Journalism History.
  • The Research Committee might help with our efforts to strengthen the Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference, especially as we explore better mechanisms for receiving, reviewing, and organizing submissions of abstracts.
  • The Teaching Committee might help with our efforts to establish a history teaching competition.




  1. Number of faculty research paper submissions 32; number of acceptances 20; 62.5%. (NOTE: Two of the faculty research paper submissions were co-authored with students; both were accepted.)


  1. Number of student research paper submissions 15; number of acceptances 6; 40%.


NOTE: The division received a total of 50 research paper submissions, one of which was disqualified and not counted above. Two of the papers submitted were not designated as student or faculty and also are not counted in the above questions; both were rejected. The overall acceptance rate for the division was 53% (26 of 49 qualified papers).


  1. Overview of judging process (see attached review form).

The research chair solicited judges with a variety of research interests within the field of journalism and communication history and made sure that each judge received papers within his/her area of expertise so that authors could receive the most knowledgeable feedback possible. Each paper had three reviewers. Reviewers scored papers on the attached form, and the papers to be programmed were selected based on ranking of total scores. Student and faculty papers were considered equally. Slightly more than 50% of papers were selected because the last few papers around the 50% mark were extremely close.


  1. Total # of judges 71; 2 papers per judge.


  1. Did your group conduct any other type of refereed competition? N/A


  1. In-convention activities related to research.
  • Presentation and discussion of 26 research papers.
  • Three research panels.
  • Member tour of the Library of Congress.
  • Member Q&A and tour at the National Press Club.
  • Outreach to graduate students through a jointly sponsored (with GSIG) reception at the annual convention.
  • Presentation of awards at business meeting for top papers, book, and article.
  1. Out-of-convention activities related to research.
  • Annual Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference, sponsored by the AEJMC History Division, the American Journalism Historians Association, and NYU, March 10, 2018, NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York City.
  • 43rd AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, hosted by the College of Communication & Information Sciences, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, March 8-10, 2018.
  1. Research goals and activities of your division.


  • The big goal for the division this year was to implement the adoption of the academic journal Journalism History as the division’s official journal. Based on the investigative work of an ad hoc committee in the previous year, the division leadership recommended adoption, and the membership approved via an online vote immediately following the 2017 conference. AEJMC approved the adoption at its December meeting. Over the past several months, the ad hoc committee has continued work, ensuring the financial stability of the journal, conducting a successful search for an editor, and exploring publishing options. Our executive committee approved the recommended journal editor and began the process of setting up a journal oversight committee within the division’s leadership.
  • Another goal for the division this year was to restructure the officer positions, which relates to research because it affects the selection of Research Chair. Currently, the top three positions are Chair/Program Chair, Vice-Chair/Research Chair, and Secretary/Clio Editor. If the membership approves the officers’s proposed amendment to the bylaws, the leadership will be more in line with other divisions, as follows: Chair, First Vice-Chair/Program Chair, Second Vice-Chair/Research Chair.
  • The Clio newsletter published three times in its traditional PDF form before launching as a monthly e-newsletter. Research-related content includes journalism history book excerpts, columns related to research activity, and profiles of individual members and their research.
  • Listserv emails to promote particular events and opportunities.
  • Social media, including a Facebook page devoted to the group, allows members to discuss research in progress as well as make announcements.
  • Promotion of paper submissions through awards for top three faculty papers, top three student papers (plaques for top two places, certificates for third).
  • $500 cash prize, top academic article of the year.
  • $500 cash prize, top academic book of the year.
  • Creation of the Michael S. Sweeney Award for the best article of the year in Journalism History, with the first winner selected by Division officers from nominations by outgoing editor Sweeney.




  1. In-convention activities related to teaching. For the upcoming 2018 AEJMC convention, the History Division’s three teaching panels bring together the work and ideas of 14 scholars (panelists, moderators, discussants) and five journalism practitioners. The Division co-organized three teaching panels—two that teaching chair Kristin Gustafson co-organized and one that membership co-chair Amber Roessner organized. In the space below, Gustafson describes how they each will fulfill the Teaching Standards Committee’s focus on curriculum, leadership, course content and teaching methods, and assessment collectively.


The first 2018 panel, “Contextualizing Media Credibility in 2018,” will specifically address Teaching Standards Committee’s focus on curriculum, course content and teaching methods, and assessment. Our panelists will offer ideas for how professors can provide historical perspective on the current era, when the U.S. president frequently charges that reporting on his administration’s shortcomings is “fake news” and many citizens doubt the truth and believability of journalism. We see the panel as taking into account changing notions of balance, fairness, objectivity, and credibility in journalism education and the news industry, as well as addressing histories of media relationships with government and other power-wielding entities.

The second 2018 panel, “Innovating ideas that foster a community and its history,” addresses the Teaching Standards Committee’s focus on curriculum, course content and teaching methods, and creates an opportunity for AEJMC members to interact directly with community journalists and the community stories they produce. We sought newspapers from a variety of audiences: LGBTQI, race, language-based, economic (homelessness), religious, and geographically-bound neighborhoods. Journalism educators attending the panel will learn about fresh news projects happening in the D.C. area and come away thinking about how they might replicate these strategies in their respective classrooms ranging from Race and Media to Introduction to Journalism to Mass Media History.

The third 2018 panel, “Remembering, Forgetting and Nostalgizing 1968: The Year that Rocked Our World,” addresses the Teaching Standards Committee’s focus on curriculum, course content and teaching methods, and possibly assessment. The panel brings together historians and memory scholars to explore how earlier waves of anniversary memory have addressed certain moments and movements, such as the Tet Offensive, the Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the anti-war movement, and the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Women’s movements.


  1. Out-of-convention activities related to teaching.


AEJMC History Division’s out-of-convention activities related to teaching standards have taken up the Standards Committee’s focus on curriculum, leadership, course content and teaching methods, and assessment. Primarily this has been through my quarterly columns in our Division’s newsletter Clio Among the Media: Newsletter of the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. This year’s four columns brought forward the work of 34 scholars/practitioners and featured several multi-media projects featuring student work and/or serving student research projects. As journalism educators and media historians, we have excellent classroom practices and curriculum designs. Since taking on the teaching standards chair position in 2015, Gustafson has invited Division members to share their best practices that encourage pedagogies of diversity, collaboration, community, and justice. The ideas and examples matter to our work and stretch us to explore new strategies.


  1. Teaching goals and activities of the History Division


In addition to the teaching panels and Clio columns, Gustafson proposes that we consider a special competition that highlights best practices in history pedagogy and/or scholarship of teaching and learning. As described earlier, the History Division’s teaching goals and activities focused on four pedagogies of diversity, collaboration, community, and justice. This focus supported the Teaching Standards Committee of AEJMC’s focus on curriculum, leadership, course content and teaching methods, and assessment. Our collaboration with three other AEJMC groups—Newspaper and Online News Division, Community Journalism Interest Group, and Cultural and Critical Studies Division—added breadth and depth to our division’s reach. The senior scholars who moderate panels or serve as panelists do important mentoring that supports our division’s efforts to reach out to new scholars and invite new members. As we move into the new AEJMC year, the teaching standards focus will continue to support our History Division’s goals.



  1. The History Division organized and was the single sponsor for the 2018 AEJMC Conference PF&R panel session “Connecting Industry and Ivory Tower: Advertising, Journalism and P.R. Executives Tell Professors How to Matter.”
    This PF&R panel offers AEJMC members insight from leaders of the industries that represent a basis for our research and for which we prepare the future workforce.

The fields of journalism, advertising, and public relations, though distinct, share a place in the academy as professional disciplines that train students for particular media careers. Increasingly, however, these are often overlapping. Beyond offering tips on how to better prepare students for the workplace, this panel explores how professors can make their research and creative activity more accessible and useful to related industries. Given the issues confronting media industries currently, we expect this panel to touch on ethical challenges of inclusion and diversity both in messaging and issues. We have recruited a highly diverse panel by race and gender to further these goals. Other ethical issues for the panel’s consideration concern the pressures on the free and independent press at a time when the media is increasingly a target of the Trump administration.

History Division Head Doug Cumming of Washington and Lee University is the scheduled moderator. Confirmed panelists from the industry include Mizell Stewart III, Gannett and USA Today Network; Elite Truong, Washington Post; Chuck Alston, MSLGroup; Wendy Melillo, American, and Jodie Warren, MDB Communication.


  1. Out-of-convention activities related to PF&R. The PF&R committee of the History Division supported the draft AEJMC statement on hate speech. At this writing, the statement is still in draft format, and though it was spurred by the incident in Charlottesville, it still provides timely, necessary, and useful recommendations for helping journalism students and working journalists in their coverage of these issues.


The History Division also endorsed the American Historical Association’s statement condemning the Polish law banning discourse about Polish complicity with the Nazis. As a member of the AHA’s Council of Affiliates, the division made this endorsement with agreement from the officers and previous head.


Additional out-of-conference activities included PF&R columns in our division newsletter, as detailed below.


  1. PF&R goals and activities. The 2017-2018 year represented a transition in the History Division PF&R chair, with Melita M. Garza replacing Tracy Lucht in the role. A primary focus of the new chair was to highlight issues related to diversity and inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities in the journalism field. Another was to extend the dialog surrounding significant PF&R events of the prior convention to help establish a continuity of ideas, rather than to simply present a one-off PF&R activity. Dr. Garza wrote two newsletter articles that elaborated on the 2017 PF&R Panel: “Where Do We Fit In? The Beginnings of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; the National Association of Black Journalists; the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association,” which was held at the August 11, 2017, AEJMC 100th Annual Conference, Marriott Magnificent Mile, Chicago, Illinois. It was a joint Minorities and Communication and History Division PF&R Panel.

The first of these columns examined the much-overlooked history of Native American journalists, and featured an interview with panelist Mark Trahant, a key figure in the founding of the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). A second column centered on a post-convention interview with another panelist, Vinicio Sinta, who discussed the challenges of researching Latino journalism history.

One prime goal of the current PF&R chair is to try to highlight areas for more inclusive research concerning media history, and to try to expand the conception of journalism history beyond the black-white race binary. Developing a more complete understanding of American journalism history is particularly important in light of the country’s ongoing racial and ethnic conflicts.

General Information:

  1. Please see the four attached issues of the Division newsletter, Clio Among the Media. Starting in May, our newsletter converted from a quarterly PDF to a monthly e-letter as an experiment in making it more timely and flexible for digital use.


AEJMC · Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication · AEJMC
234 Outlet Pointe Blvd. · Columbia, SC 29210-5667 · 803-798-0271 (voice) · 803-772-3509 (fax)



About Doug Cumming

Writer, W&L journalism professor emeritus
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s