What’s New at the Journal

Vol 30 Issue 4Winter 2017 Issue

The current issue features research by Nicholas Hirshon on New York Mayor John Lindsay’s innovative re-election campaign in which he sought to associate with the New York Mets baseball team. Melita Garza examines the Great Depression editorials published in San Antonio, Texas, newspapers about the role of Mexicans and immigrants. Matthew Cecil writes about how FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s 1958 book, Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism in America and How to Fight It, became a bestseller, thanks to an aggressive promotional campaign that revealed how Hoover created relationships with Americans who shared his views about Communism. Cayce Myers explores the representation of publicists in early public relations history.

Teaching Our Journal

With each issue of American Journalism, we feature teaching materials for a particular article and provide free online access to the article (through Taylor & Francis, the publisher of American Journalism).

The teaching materials provide topical overviews and various exercises for teaching the article in either undergraduate or graduate classes. The author of the article creates the teaching exercises and provides links to relevant primary and secondary sources.

We hope these teaching materials and the historical studies they reference will enrich your media history courses and, most importantly, your students’ learning. And we hope you will let us know how you use American Journalism in your classrooms.

Framing Mexicans in Great Depression Editorials: Alien Riff-Raff to Heroes

Volume 34, No. 1

By Melita M. Garza, Texas Christian University

Editorials from the three San Antonio, Texas, newspapers studied in this article illuminate competing myths about Mexicans and immigrants that circulated in national Great Depression-era debates about the newcomer in the United States. Editorials occupy a particular role in journalism, offering an interpretive and analytical view that aims to give a media organization’s “light of understanding” to readers.

Studying the editorials of the past offers insight not only into journalistic ideas of an earlier era, but also helps us contextualize present-day events and discourse resonant with the past. For instance, examining 1930s-era narrative myths about immigration offers students a fresh perspective on national discourse about this topic that surfaced during the Great Recession (December 2007 – June 2009) and continued in its aftermath. Moreover, this article also allows students to delve into a little-used primary source, the Spanish-language press, and to evaluate it on the same plane as English-language newspapers, something rarely done.

Although the media landscape is highly fragmented in the twenty-first century, in the pre-television early 1930s, newspapers were still the primary vehicles through which news was disseminated. In part, this article relies on a conception of news as mythological narrative, a strategy in which journalists not only draw on pre-existing cultural storytelling patterns, but also dynamically reshape them.

The power of myth and the power of news both rest to some degree on the authority ascribed to the storyteller, and in the case of editorials, the myths also have the authority of the journalistic institution behind them. When the subject is immigration, this power is used to define what it means to be an American. As this article argues, that conception is richer and more complete when the perspective of the Spanish-language press is included. Read more.