What’s New at the Journal

Vol 30 Issue 4Summer 2017 Issue

The current issue features research by William Gillis on the anti-Semitic roots of the idea of the “liberal” news media. Christina Littlefield and Falon Opsahl examine the work of Josiah Strong, a social gospel muckraker who fought for factory safety, living wages, workers’ compensation, and other causes in the early 1900s. Gerald Fetner writes about David Lawrence and Simeon Strunsky, foreign correspondents for the New York Evening Post who reported on the Wilson administration’s New Diplomacy program after World War I.  Erin Coyle and Nicole Dahmen explore the perceptions of photojournalists about the influence of White House practices on the historical record of U.S. presidents after Watergate.


NEW feature! Author Interviews

With publication of each issue of American Journalism, our website will feature a short Q&A with one of the authors of the issue’s original research article. The conversation will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the topic and suggest resources for those who want to learn more. Check out our first author interview with William Gillis here. Now a permanent feature of the website, all interviews can be accessed under “Author Interviews” on the top menu bar.

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.

Filtering History: Photojournalists’ Access to U.S. Presidents, 1977-2009

Volume 34, No. 3

By Erin K. Coyle & Nicole Smith Dahmen

For decades, political leaders have released their own photographs and controlled opportunities for photojournalists to record them, either by staging events (called photo ops) or by restricting access. These restrictions, however, often serve as a deterrent to photojournalists who work to provide accurate and realistic images and a true visual historical record. When presidential access is limited or restricted, the historical record is also limited to images that have been filtered and recorded by the White House staff and often designed to promote a political agenda and a positive image of the presidency.

Photo op of President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the White House in 1980

Photo op of President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the White House in 1980
Source: Trikosko, Marion S, and Thomas J O’Halloran, photographers. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin talk at the White House, Washington, D.C., as a photographer adjusts his camera in the background. Washington D.C, 1980. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2006676709/. (Accessed September 07, 2017.)

This study examined photojournalists’ perceptions about the influence of such White House practices to control photographic images after the Vietnam War and Watergate. The authors interviewed nine photojournalists who covered the White House from 1977 to 2009. In addition to the interviews, the authors also researched photojournalists’ books, a leading professional organization’s journal, letters sent to the White House by leaders in professional organizations, news articles, and the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics. These additional documents helped to determine whether photojournalists’ stories and themes were unique to interviewed photojournalists or were shared by a collective community of photojournalists required.

The research revealed that concerns about access were subtly different during the two phases addressed in this study. Moreover, common themes emerged from the interviews. For instance, photojournalists frequently noted their devotion to providing the public with independently recorded images. Photojournalists also indicated they did not expect to have access to highly sensitive or personal events, but they recalled that restriction grew over time. This increasingly restricted access, the photographers noted, limited whether and how photojournalists could photograph presidents. Believing that photographs shape how people recall historical events involving the president, some photojournalists warned that image management practices, at times, had shaped ways in which people could perceive the president and some historical events.

This study reveals that interviewing communication professionals is a valuable method for learning about journalism history — a method that could be used by undergraduate or graduate students interested in learning more about communication history from primary sources. Exercises may help students learn how to perform their own interviews and think more about the role photographs play in shaping collective memories. Students may start by reading and discussing the article. Then students may complete exercises to practice performing interviews, learn more about roles that photojournalists play in helping to record history, and think about how photographs may influence our understanding of history. (Read more)