A Look at Colloquium’s Past
In 1976, a small group of journalism historians, primarily from the southeastern United States, decided to gather in Chapel Hill, N.C., to do the sorts of things academicians usually do when they meet – talk about their research, share teaching tips, debate and discuss issues and ideas, and, most likely, commiserate over low salaries, heavy teaching loads and insufficient time for writing and research.
Thus was born the Southeast Regional Colloquium. The oldest and most successful regional journalism and mass communication meeting, the Southeast Colloquium has given hundreds of graduate students their first crack at presenting their scholarly research at an academic conference. It has allowed scores of professors and students to try out ideas and theories, many of which ultimately blossomed into articles, monographs and even books. It has provided teachers a much-needed break from the daily routine of lectures, labs and paper grading, coupled with the opportunity to hear thought-provoking speakers and stimulating panel discussions. But perhaps most importantly, it has given journalism and mass communication scholars the chance to meet and interact with colleagues from other schools in an informal, collegial atmosphere, and the chance to form not only professional relationships but also lasting friendships.
When members of the History Division agreed to hold the first colloquium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1976, AEJMC was just AEJ. Although the association’s name was used in conjunction with the gathering, the colloquium was a grassroots activity, planned, organized and carried out by the scholars themselves rather than by AEJ officers or staff. The organizers decided the term “colloquium,” rather than “convention” or “conference,” best described the nature of the gathering.
The colloquium’s present format was established early on. A host school plans and coordinates the event with participants charged a registration fee low enough to enable graduate students to afford to attend but high enough to enable the host school to cover all, or most, of the expenses.
Participants in the first colloquium enjoyed the experience so much that they decided to do it again the following year. The second colloquium, still primarily a gathering of History Division members, was in 1977 at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
History, Newspaper and Law gathered at the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel in 1980 for a colloquium coordinated jointly by Harold Davis of Georgia State, Wallace Eberhard of the University of Georgia and Sam Riley of Georgia Southern. Colleagues outside the southeast were invited to submit papers, establishing the open-to-all policy still followed today. Five students and 11 faculty members presented papers, and The Newspaper Fund conducted a workshop of “Teaching Reporting of the Courts.
“The Sheraton in Memphis, Tenn., was the site of the 1981 colloquium, with Gerald Stone of Memphis State as coordinator. A highlight of the sixth Southeast Colloquium was Joseph Costa’s talk about his camera coverage of the Bruno Hauptmann trial for the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. Conferees also attended Memphis’s famed Blues Alley and sampled some memorable barbecued ribs.
In 1982, the colloquium moved to the Holiday Inn in Gainesville, Fla., with Jon Rosenraad and Jean Chance of the University of Florida coordinating arrangements. Participation continued to increase, with 18 faculty and five student paper presentations. The keynote speaker was Roy Peter Clark of the Modern Media Institute.
Whitney Mundt of Louisiana State University hosted the 1983 meeting at the Prince Murat Hotel in Baton Rouge. One highlight was Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards’s participation in a panel discussion about law and ethics. A Louisiana crawfish jamboree dinner gave local flavor to the proceedings.
In 1984, AEJ became AEJMC, and George Cullen of the Hampton Institute hosted the Southeast Colloquium at the Holiday Inn in Hampton, Va. Two highlights of the event were attorney Conrad Shumadine’s keynote address about gaining access to information and eating crab from the Chesapeake Bay.
The 10th annual Southeast Colloquium was hosted by Wallace Eberhard of the University of Georgia at the Athens Holiday Inn. Panels included “Success in Publishing,” “Research Sources in Media History” and “The Professor and the PC.” At this meeting, some attendees gathered to discuss forming a separate undergraduate student-oriented version of the Southeast Colloquium, which eventually became known as the Southeast Journalism Conference.
Mike Singletary of the University of Tennessee coordinated the 1986 meeting at the Knoxville Hilton, where 32 faculty and four student papers were presented. Colloquium attendees were treated to authentic mountain music and a southern barbecue dinner at the Museum of Appalachia.
The Marriott in Blacksburg, Va., was the site of the 1987 colloquium with Sam Riley of Virginia Tech acting as host. Twenty-one faculty papers, eight student papers and two panels formed the core of the program. A trip to Mountain Lake Hotel for dinner was one of the social events.
In 1988, the Southeast Colloquium moved back to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where participants stayed at the Sheraton Capstone Inn. David Sloan and Jim Stoval hosted the conference. A 12-page packet containing the abstracts of the 28 papers presented at the meeting was given to each registrant.
The following year, the colloquium returned home, and Raleigh Mann of the University of North Carolina coordinated arrangements. Participants stayed at the historic Carolina Inn adjacent to the Chapel Hill campus. The Law Division presented a panel on lawyers in the newsroom. A Carolina pig-pickin’ was the culinary treat, with entertainment by Mann’s own barbershop quartet.
In 1990, Perry Ashley and South Carolina welcomed attendees back to Charleston. Hurricane Hugo, which had blown through Charleston in 1989, provided the topic for a panel on disaster coverage. Public officials critiqued media coverage of the hurricane’s aftermath, and attendees walked through downtown Charleston to examine damage to the historic district.
Fred Felder of the University of Central Florida hosted the next colloquium at Orlando’s Harley Hotel. Fedler arranged a panel of three Pulitzer Prize winners: Dave Barry of The Miami Herald, Lucy Morgan of the St. Petersburg Times and Jan Healy of the Orlando Sentinel.
In 1992, the colloquium moved to Stone Mountain, Ga., a resort near Atlanta, where Wallace Eberhard of the University of Georgia and Greg Lisby of Georgia State University coordinated arrangements. This was the first year that paper submissions and attendance both topped 100, with 106 papers submitted and 100 people attending. As further evidence of the colloquium’s maturity, Eberhard and Lisby published the proceedings of the meeting, including the full text of the top five papers and abstracts of 23 others. The publication was a first for the colloquium and continues today. Lisby served as editor of the proceedings until Ginger Carter of Georgia College took over in 1997.
The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa hosted the 1993 Southeast Regional Colloquium when Sloan and Stovall again served as coordinators. In 1994, it was back to Charleston for another colloquium hosted by the University of South Carolina College of Journalism and Mass Communications. A record 143 papers were submitted, and 97 were accepted for presentation at the 1994 meeting. USC Associate Dean Pat McNeely, colloquium coordinator, treated conferees to an assortment of Charleston cuisine and walking tours of the harbor.
The colloquium returned to the University of Florida in 1995 to celebrate its 20th birthday. Participants visited the new wing of Weimer Hall to see the Sun. ONE online information service and other telecommunications activities. In addition to a plenary session and panel discussions on the media and the criminal justice system and coverage of high-profile trials, more than 80 research papers were presented. Sandra Chance coordinated the 20th annual program, and more than 60 faculty and students registered.
Virginia Tech and Washington and Lee joined forces to host the 1996 Southeast Colloquium at the newly refurbished Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. The annual Washington and Lee Ethics Institute took place at the same time, providing expanded programming. Wat Hopkins, Sam Riley and Ken Rystrom of Virginia Tech, and Ham Smith and Brian Richardson of Washington and Lee organized guest speakers and panel discussions on media ethics.
The 1997 colloquium returned to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with Dorothy Bowles as coordinator. For the first time in 19 years, the colloquium expanded to include other divisions. Members of AEJMC’s Communication Theory and Methodology (CT&M) and Magazine Divisions joined History, Law and Newspaper. The Magazine Division had its annual midyear meeting in conjunction with the colloquium. Another innovation was the creation of an “open division” paper competition. A total of 168 papers were submitted to the six separate paper competitions, and 122 were accepted for presentation. Jane Kirtley, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, was the keynote speaker.
The 1998 colloquium was at the Best Western Landmark Hotel in Metairie, La., outside New Orleans. Once again the Magazine Division joined History, Law and Newspaper, but neither the CT&M nor Open Divisions operated in the 1998 colloquium. A consortium of 11 Louisiana schools hosted the colloquium, and Joe Mirando of Southeastern Louisiana University served as coordinator. A total of 143 papers were submitted, and the four divisions accepted 98. Special session speakers addressed accreditation, restrictions on interviewing jurors and coverage of the TWA Flight 800 crash. At the business meeting, colloquium participants voted to officially add the Magazine Division to the roster of permanent Southeast Colloquium sponsors.
Lexington, Ky., was the site of the 1999 colloquium when Roy Moore of the University of Kentucky acted as coordinator. Eastern Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University and Murray State joined UK as hosts. The Open Division paper competition was reinstated, and a total of 118 research papers were presented. First Amendment attorney Bruce Sanford gave a keynote address on “Shooting the Messenger: The Evaporation of First Amendment Protections for the Media,” and a panel of journalists, judges and lawyers discussed issues related to whether journalists have the right to disobey court orders they believe are unconstitutional.
In 2000, the colloquium returned to its roots at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Peggy Blanchard coordinated the 25th annual Southeast Colloquium and Mary Alice Shaver and Ruth Walden rounded out the steering committee. The colloquium included Media Ethics and continued the Open Division, which was started at Kentucky in 1999. Nearly 10 presentations were made on topics ranging from the changing definition of malice to reporters’ uses of Internet “cookies” for research and the continuing impact of media mergers on newsgathering. The colloquium was a double celebration as participants toured Carroll Hall, North Carolina’s new facility, which Dean Richard Cole said represented one of the most important developments in the school’s 75-year history.
The University of South Carolina and the state capital, Columbia, played host to the colloquium in 2001. Patricia McNeeley coordinated the presentation of more than 100 papers in five divisions: History, Law, Magazine, Newspaper and Open. Highlights of the meeting included a distinguished panel on South Carolina “Journalists as Educators” at USC’s impressive Caroliniana Library; a panel about “Preparing the Next Generation of Journalists,” featuring an internal panel of prominent journalists and publishing executives from a half-dozen countries; a guided tour of South Carolina’s historic State House; and a well attended “open house” reception hosted by AEJMC at its nearby association headquarters office.
The colloquium moved to Gulfport, Miss., on the Gulf Coast in 2002, where David Davies and the University of Southern Mississippi hosted. The program kicked off with an outside reception on the beautiful Oasis Veranda of the Grand Oasis Hotel. A plenary panel featured veteran journalists, all members of the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame, who recalled coverage of the civil rights movement, and that panel was followed by a lunchtime address by the Sun Herald’s executive editor. Colloquium participants presented 85 papers in the History, Law, Magazine, Newspaper and Open Divisions.
In 2003, Rick Peltz and the Schools of Law and Mass Communication at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock hosted the 28th annual conference. The program included an address by Skip Rutherford, president of the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, and a tour of the Clinton Presidential Library.
Tampa, Fla., was the site of the 2004 colloquium and Marie Curkan-Flanagan of the University of South Florida acted as coordinator. Faculty and staff in the School of Mass Communications were the hosts. For the first time in its 29-year history the Southeast Colloquium included the Radio – Television Journalism (RTVJ) Division of the AEJMC. At the business meeting, colloquium participants voted to officially add RTVJ to the permanent roster of Southeast Colloquium Divisions. Gil Thelen, publisher of The Tampa Tribune delivered the keynote address, and The Tampa Tribune hosted the opening reception where participants toured Media General’s News Center, the members voted unanimously to keep the postmark date the same, but to require first class or priority mail postage. Other matters discussed at the business meeting included the dates and locations of the colloquium for the next three years, volunteers for paper chairs for next year’s colloquium, and Dave Davies at Southern Mississippi volunteered to host a permanent Southeast Colloquium Web site.
Auburn University hosted the colloquium in 2008 under the direction of John Carvalho. The opening event was a cocktail reception sponsored by the Auburn University Department of Communication and Journalism. “Freedom of Information in Practice” was the focus of the lunch Friday, while a Saturday luncheon panel focused on magazine ethics.
William Faulkner’s lawn and home, Rowan Oak, was the site of the opening reception when the University of Mississippi hosted the colloquium in 2009 under the direction of Nancy Dupont and Kathleen Wickham. Otis Sanford, editorial page editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, spoke on “The future of journalism, or is there one?” as the featured speaker at the Friday luncheon. Samir Husni of the University of Mississippi (AKA Mr. Magazine) entertained guests with stories from his international magazine consulting business at the same session. Special panels were held on Hurricane Katrina coverage, distance learning and reporters covering civil rights stories. Scholars presented a total of 41 peer-reviewed papers in the six colloquium divisions: History, Law and Policy, Newspaper, Magazine, Open and RTVJ. Deb Wenger of the University of Mississippi hosted a morning-long workshop about new media training Saturday morning. Ellen Meacham of the University of Mississippi conducted a campus tour focused on sites related to the 1962 integration crisis. At the business meeting, Virginia Tech offered to explore hosting the colloquium in 2011. Division chairs were Rebekah Ray, History; Chip Stewart, Law and Policy; Sheila Webb, Magazine; John Carvalho, Newspaper; Dana Rosengard, Open; Katherine Bradshaw, RTVJ.
On March 11-13, 2010, the colloquium returned to the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the 35th anniversary with Michael Hoefges as director. All of the research and panel sessions were conducted in Carroll Hall, home of the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. A total of 78 refereed research papers were presented in the History (12 papers), Law and Policy (28 papers), Magazine (six papers), Newspaper (12 papers), Open (13 papers) and Radio Television Journalism (seven papers) Divisions. There were five panel sessions: “Get to Them Early: Cultivating Journalism Historians among First Year Students;” “Intellectual Property Issues and the Future of Journalism,” “Civil Rights in the South: Local News Coverage of the ‘Friendship Nine;'” “Mediating Terrorism in Newspapers and Magazines;” and “Do I Need a MyFace Spacebook Profile or Maybe a Tweeter Account?” The keynote luncheon was March 12 at the historic Carolina Inn and was co-sponsored by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. The keynote speaker was Miriam Nisbet, director of the U.S. Office of Government Information Services, Washington, D.C., and approximately 150 people attended. At the colloquium business meeting on March 13, the majority voted in favor of the University of South Carolina hosting the 2011 colloquium instead of Virginia Tech, which postponed hosting the colloquium until 2012. The selection of the 2013 host was left to be determined. Also at the business meeting, a proposal not to schedule the colloquium on the second Saturday of March each year in order to avoid conflict with an annual journalism historians conference was considered and was not approved. Paid registration for the 2010 colloquium totaled 125.
The University of South Carolina hosted the Southeast Colloquium for the fourth time March 17-19, 2011, in Columbia, with Kathy Roberts Forde as director. All events were held at the Hilton in the Vista, a revitalized arts, entertainment, and dining area nestled between campus, downtown, and the Congaree River. Scholars presented a total of 54 papers in the History (9), Law and Policy (19), Open (14), Radio-Television Journalism (4), and Magazine (3) Divisions across 14 research panels. There were three panel sessions, two on the topic of literary journalism (sponsored by the History Division) and a special roundtable on publishing in academic journals. Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed book The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, was the keynote speaker at a luncheon bringing together participants in both the Colloquium and the inaugural Media & Civil Rights History Symposium, an event hosted by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at USC. Approximately 150 people attended the luncheon, where Wilkerson received a standing ovation following her address. At the Colloquium business meeting on March 19, attendees unanimously approved a proposal to use an electronic paper submission and judging process in the future. Attendees also decided that paper authors should continue providing 10 hard copies of their papers at the Colloquium; the Colloquium should retain the rule barring paper authors from arranging to have someone else present their papers; paper authors should be directed by division research chairs to send final versions of papers to discussants two weeks before the Colloquium; and the conference host should remind research chairs that peer reviews should be shared only with the paper’s author(s), not discussants.
Two keynote speakers highlighted the program when the Southeast returned to Blacksburg, Va., in 2012. Paul Isom, who had recently been fired as advisor of the student newspaper at East Carolina University, was the luncheon speaker and then participated in a colloquium-wide panel on student free press issues. Larry Hincker, Virginia Tech’s associate vice president for university relations, reported on the how he dealt with the media in the days following the April 16, 2007, shooting that resulted in thirty-three deaths at the university. The Law and Policy, History, Newspaper and Online, Open divisions sponsored research paper sessions, and the Magazine Division sponsored a panel on teaching magazine students in the digital age. For the first time, the colloquium also had two research-in-progress sessions. Colloquium events were at the Inn at Virginia Tech and the dinner was in the South End Zone suites of Lane Stadium. Wat Hopkins chaired the colloquium committee for the Department of Communication.
In 2013 the University of South Florida in Tampa played host to the Colloquium for a second time. More than 90 refereed papers were submitted and scholars presented a total of 49 accepted papers in the Law and Policy (20), Open (13), Newspaper and Online News (5), History (4), Electronic News (4) and Magazine (3) Divisions. In addition, the Colloquium featured a panel addressing the topic “Teaching With Mobile Media to Prepare Students for Jobs that Don’t Exist, Yet.” Gil Thelen, publisher of the Tampa Tribune at the time of the 2004 Tampa colloquium, returned to speak at the Friday luncheon in 2013, this time as director of the USF School of Mass Communications and executive director of the Florida Society of News Editors. Chris Martin, president of the Poytner Foundation and former dean of the Perley Issac Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University and WVU vice-president for university relations served as the keynote speaker. Colloquium events were held at the USF Embassy Suites hotel. Justin Brown chaired the colloquium committee, assisted by Jay Friedlander and Kevin Hawley. A proposal for the University of Florida to host the 2014 Colloquium was approved during the business meeting.
The University of Florida in Gainesville served as the host of the 2014 Colloquium on March 20-22, after earlier stints in 1982 and 1995. Student and faculty researchers submitted 101 papers, and 54 papers were presented in six divisions: Law and Policy (12), Open (16), Newspaper and Online News (16), History (5, Electronic News (2) and Magazine (3) Divisions. A PF&R Panel “Public relations professionals and community-based research: Are they ready?” was presented, along with a teaching panel “Not keeping up with the Kardashians: Three digital methods to engage today’s students in meaningful current events discussions.” The keynote address was titled “Niche News: Polarization and Media Choice,” by Dr. Natalia Stroud, associate professor, Department of Communication Studies; Assistant Director, Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life University of Texas-Austin. Events were held at the Emerson Alumni Hall in Gainesville. Cory Armstrong and Kim Walsh-Childers served as co-directors of the event, assisted by Special Projects Coordinator Ellen Nodine.
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville hosted the 40th Southeast Colloquium March 26-28, 2015. This was the fourth time that UT hosted the Colloquium, the first in 1977, the second in 1986 and the third in 1997. Jane Kirtley’s keynote speech was titled “Are There Stories Worth Dying For? Assessing the Real Threats to Press Freedom.” Kirtley is the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Student and faculty researchers presented 42 papers in five divisions: Law and Policy (16), Newspaper and Online (8), Open Division (8), History (8) and Magazine (2). There were no entrants in the Electronic News Division. There were three Teaching Panels: “The Ida Initiative: Teaching Students of All Ages About the Life, Career and Legacy of Social Justice Crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett,” “Best Practices to Address Information and Media Literacy in the Digital Age and “Energize Your Internships: How to Get More Out of Students, Mentors and Online Relationships.” There were two PF&R Panels: “The First-Informer, Social Media and Perceptions of Risk” and “Futbol, Football and Fantasy: Findings from the Field.” Dr. Michael T. Martinez and Dr. Amber Roessner served as co-directors of the colloquium that was held at the Black Cultural Center on the UT campus.
In 2016, The Manship School at Louisiana State University hosted the annual meeting of the Southeast Colloquium from March 3-5. Roughly 100 people—including registrants, faculty and students—attended the colloquium, which featured 57 research paper presentations and two research panels. The papers highlighted the research of graduate students and professors from across the country, and covered topics such as the role of positive news stories on audience engagement, privacy and free speech, themes from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, news distribution, and direct-to-consumer advertising of genetic testing. The panels examined the importance of context in digital journalism and social media, along with a look at how Volkswagen handled a crisis. A pre-conference on the use of storytelling in science communication kicked off the week, and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Mark Schleifstein gave an interesting talk at the colloquium’s luncheon on reporters adjusting to the changing world of journalism.
The Colloquium traveled to its westernmost location March 9-11, 2017 as The Bob Schieffer College of Communication at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas hosted the event for the first time. Chip Stewart served as Colloquium Director. Four Divisions including Newspaper and Online News, Law and Policy, History, and Visual Communication sponsored research panels where 37 papers were presented. The Engagement Editor at The Dallas Morning News and the Co-Founder and President of Online News Association Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter was featured on a special panel on “Journalism and Community Engagement.” Professor Carrie Brown from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and Jake Batsell from Southern Methodist University also participated in the panel.
In 2018, The College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama hosted the Colloquium in Tuscaloosa. The Colloquium was paired with UA’s Ninth Annual Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium. In 2019, the Colloquium returned to the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Attendees presented at sessions in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications building on the historic Horseshoe at USC. The Colloquium was paired with the USC’s biannual Media and Civil Rights History Symposium.
In 2020, the 45th annual AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, hosted at the University of Memphis, was moved to a virtual format in light of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak and restrictions on travel.