Volume 34, No. 4, 2017
During the 1950s and 1960s, members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors debated and ultimately abandoned the longstanding practice of allowing features syndicates, which sold content to newspapers, to wine and dine them during their annual convention. By 1968, when the ASNE board banned the “syndicate parties,” many journalists had recalibrated their own ethical standards on conflicts of interest, holding themselves to the same standards as government officials and other news subjects. The contrast between ASNE members’ positions on this issue over a ten-year period affirms an evolution in journalistic norms. For this change to take hold, and for the profession to support more detailed ethics codes, journalists had to develop a deeper common-sense understanding of their own accountability to the public.
For three decades, Mississippi politician Evelyn Gandy was perhaps the most recognized figure in the state. Beginning in 1948, she served in various elected positions, including state assistant attorney general, state treasurer, and commissioner of public welfare. She was elected lieutenant governor in 1976, the first woman to hold the office, before making two unsuccessful gubernatorial bids. Three press frames emerge from the news coverage of Gandy’s career: a “first” frame, which presents women’s political contributions as an anomaly; frames emphasizing stereotypical gender roles; and an “iron magnolia” frame, an attempt by the news media to acknowledge her growing political assertiveness while overemphasizing stereotypical feminine characteristics. These three frames are problematic, given the news media’s power to reinforce gender roles in narrow and limiting ways.
In 1943, Ruth Cowan became one of the first two women with official US Army credentials to report on World War II. Applying the theory of Gender Judo, which demonstrates how women have used traditional gender roles to get themselves further into masculine roles, to Cowan’s war reportage shows how her writing lulled reading audiences into accepting women in gender-bending roles. Cowan used a range of emotions, from humor to anger, to portray enlisted women as strong, fearless women who, nevertheless, found themselves enjoying traditionally feminine pursuits. Her reporting also showed men in the Army inhabiting women’s roles in various ways. Cowan bended gender roles in her writing, even as she found herself faced with discrimination.
Nell Nelson’s Undercover Reporting
By Samantha Peko and Michael S. Sweeney
On assignment for the Chicago Times in the late 1880s, Nell Nelson was commissioned by the newspaper paper to pose as a shop girl in Chicago factories. She was among many stunt girl reporters who were hired to do dangerous or unusual tasks then write about them. Stunt girls exposed corruption, at the same time providing entertainment for their readers. Nelson’s first-hand accounts in “City Slave Girls of Chicago” detailed labor conditions of poor, working class women. The Chicago series of twenty-one articles were collected into a book and resumed in the New York World. Nelson’s sympathetic narratives attracted readers and inspired public debate for labor reform, and provided more evidence that women could write compelling investigative news stories.
Copyright and Historical Sources
By Cayce Myer
Media and Culture in the U.S. Jewish Labor Movement: Sweating for Democracy in the Interwar Era
By Brian Dolber
Reviewed by Jon Bekken
The Woman War Correspondent, the U.S. Military, and the Press, 1846–1947
By Carolyn M. Edy
Reviewed by Janice Hume
The Voice of America: Lowell Thomas and the Invention of 20th-Century Journalism
By Mitchell Stephens
Reviewed by Ron Bishop
Ruby A. Black: Eleanor Roosevelt, Puerto Rico, and Political Journalism in Washington
By Maurine H. Beasley
Reviewed by Carol Sue Humphrey
On the Frontlines of the Television War: A Legendary War Cameraman in Vietnam
By Yasutsune “Tony” Hirashiki; Terry Irving, ed.
Reviewed by Eddith Dashiell
Reporting the Retreat: War Correspondents in Burma
By Philip Woods
Reviewed by Richard Fine
Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq
By Tom Basile
Reviewed by Kevin Swift
Digital Media Review
The Great War
Reviewed by J. Ian Tennant