Academic journal article Journalism History

The Variety of Journalism History: 26 Years of Scholarship

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Variety of Journalism History: 26 Years of Scholarship

Article excerpt

In the eight years that I have been editor of Journalism History, I have frequently been asked to assess the scholarship in the field, particularly trends, gaps, strengths. I have responded usually on the basis of the kinds of submissions for publication that I was receiving at the time. Compilation of this twenty-six-year index provides an opportunity to draw a clearer picture of where j-historians have been putting their time and effort in the past and present, plus potential for the future of scholarship in the field.

There are a number of obvious observations that can be made about Journalism History when it started in 1974 and the JH of today. For example, founding editor Tom Reilly of California State University, Northridge, sought to publish as many articles as possible in the typical 36-page issue. The word limit for articles then was 3,500, with the warning that because the editor wanted to be as inclusive as possible, shorter articles had a better chance of getting published; at the same time, longer articles of high value would be considered.

In more recent years, especially since 1992, the preferred word limit has been 5,000 words, plus notes, and JH has settled into a pattern of publishing three articles per issue, a pattern typical of many historical journals.

Then, as now, illustrations were welcome; indeed Reilly and his successor editor at Northridge, Susan Henry, went to great pains to discover suitable illustrations for the cover, something the present editor has not pursued, although the cover now carries a touch of color-a different hue for each volume.

One could continue describing differences between then-and now; for example, now JH is available on a number of electronic databases; in fact, last year we found our articles and reviews for sale on a third-party web site (We put a stop to that, in order to keep faith with our contributors who assume they are writing gratis for a scholarly journal, not some commercial operation that does not intend to pay authors a royalty). Of course, JH has long been available on microfilm, so if you or your library needs back issues, you can get them through UMI, now owned by Bell and Howell.

To consider the "then" and the "now," we took the first sixteen volumes as "then," and the most recent ten as "now," for comparison. The tables on the next pages show some of the differences in topics and in gender of authors. We counted a total of 462 articles, 31 percent of them published in the last ten volumes, or "now." It should be noted that although issues 16:3-4 and volume 17 were produced at UNLV, the content was selected by the Northridge editors.

In its 26-year history, Journalism History has also revied 373 books and 58 examples of electronic media (all of the latter since 1995).

Perhaps the most striking difference in JH content then and now is the dramatic decline in the number of articles dealing with historiography defined broadly, and including the role of journalism history in the curriculum, etc. It would seem we no longer need to work so hard to justify the field to ourselves and to others. Of the total of fifty-two articles in the topical index under historiography only three have been published in the last ten years1. Historiography accounts for about 15 percent of the articles in the first sixteen volumes, 2 percent in the last ten.

Although many women have joined the ranks of j-- historians in recent years, there has been only a slight change in the proportion of men versus women authors being published in JH. In the first sixteen volumes, about 38 percent of the authors were women; in the more recent decade, 36 percent were women. However, the last ten years have had a somewhat higher representation of articles about women in journalim, thanks in part to several men who have taken a special interest in the contributions of women, such as Don Godfrey's study of Pem Farnsworth, or Rodger Streitmatter's research into African American women in journalism5. …

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