Volume 34, No. 2, 2017
“Television’s Closet Revolutionary”: Mary Jane Odell and Her Fight for Public Affairs Programming
By Tracy Lucht and Chunyu Zhang
Mary Jane Odell was a mainstay in Midwestern television for thirty years as the host of a variety show in Des Moines, Iowa, and a two-time Emmy Award winner for her public affairs programs in Chicago. Acclaimed for her in-depth interviewing, Odell rose to become Iowa’s secretary of state, contributing an important voice to the broader debate over television content and women’s roles in the media. Three distinct phases in her career are identified — tradition, experimentation, and confrontation — which align with her work in commercial, community, and public television. These narrative themes illustrate how gender both constrained a notable woman’s opportunities and expanded her definition of high-quality television to include diversity in the range of perspectives heard in the public discourse.
Radio news analyst William S. Gailmor was blacklisted in the late 1940s for presenting a “popular front” perspective on the air. The popular front, a mass social democratic movement in the 1930s-40s, reached its height after World War II, embracing the causes of anti-fascism, labor rights, civil rights, civil liberties, economic democracy, and media reform. From November 1950 to November 1952 Gailmor returned to journalism, writing a regular column on “Human Welfare” issues for the New York tabloid, the Daily Compass. Examining Gailmor’s columns — especially those highlighting the tension between human needs and the demands of the national security state — reveals how a minority of popular front journalists continued to challenge the prevailing Cold War narrative, even at the height of the Red Scare.
By Justin Clark
Between 1890 and 1920, the diagnosis of pathological lying, usually defined as purposeless lying, was widely recognized by American legal experts, social workers, journalists, and the general public. This article explores the origins of the diagnosis and its cultural importance as an explanation for the perceived prevalence of false reporting, unverifiable accusation, and manufactured “news fakes” in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, intensifying competition for scoops and an increase in libel suits prompted experts and the public to search for the origins of a perceived “epidemic of exaggeration.” The emblem of this epidemic became the pathological liar, a deviant publicity-seeker whose pointless deceptions exposed the vulnerability of the press to manipulation. The discovery of pathological lying helped recast the press in public discourse as the target, rather than the agent, of deception.
In the late-1960s, popular women’s magazine advertisements for the Women’s Army Corps and Nurse Corps featured militarized femininity at its finest. The recruiting ads depicted military service as an inclusive, exciting environment in which young women could explore job opportunities, meet male suitors, travel, and build self-esteem. Despite shifting cultural attitudes toward American women’s workforce participation, the construction of military femininity in these Vietnam-era ads aligned neatly with broader media messages about gender and heteronormative rituals of courtship. Examining the mass mediation of military messages included in female-focused magazines reveals cultural and historical aspects of advertising, public relations, representation, and print media as they emerge in primary documents.
The Ghost of Television News in Media History Scholarship
By Mike Conway
Indians Illustrated: The Image of Native Americans in the Pictorial Press
By John M. Coward
Reviewed by Selene G. Phillips
The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner
By Ron Rapoport, ed.
Reviewed by John P. Ferré
Full Court Press: Mississippi State University, the Press, and the Battle to Integrate College Basketball
By James A. Peterson
Reviewed by Wayne Dawkins
Henry Alsberg: The Driving Force of the New Deal Federal Writers’ Project
By Susan Rubenstein DeMasi
Reviewed by Jane Marcellus
Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcast Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics
By Michael J. Socolow
Reviewed by Ron Bishop
Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, A Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill
By Candice Millard
Reviewed by David W. Bulla
The Riot Report and the News: How the Kerner Commission Changed Media Coverage of Black America
By Thomas J. Hrach
Reviewed by Kimberley Mangun
The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television
By Cathleen M. Londino
Reviewed by Teresa Jo Styles
Digital Media Reviews
Radio Boulevard, Western Historic Radio Museum
Reviewed by Richard C. Robinson
Reviewed by Madeleine Liseblad