Raising press photography to visual communication in American schools of journalism, with attention to the universities of Missouri and Texas, 1880's-1990's

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2007-12

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Paris, Sherre Lynne, 1949-

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Abstract

This dissertation works toward a history of the ideals and work of teachers of photography for mass media in American schools of journalism, 1880's - 990's. The dissertation examines teachers' efforts to construct curriculum designed to elevate press photography from a trade to a profession and to achieve respect for photography in the field and academy. The dissertation, using history research methods and ethnographic oral histories, contextualizes these efforts within the environment in which they were exercised: that of print journalism practitioners and teachers. The dissertation, exploring the development of photojournalism programs within the journalism programs at the Universities of Missouri and Texas, examines photography teachers' endeavors to integrate a mechanically based practice with the social science emphasis commensurate to a course of study within schools of journalism and liberal arts universities and balance these endeavors with industry expectations of professional schools. The dissertation reveals that photography teachers in journalism programs, although they struggled for legitimacy in ways similar to those of their print journalism predecessors, labored against a more enduring stigma, rooted in the early relationship of press photography to print journalism, of photography as a mechanically based, lesser intellectual endeavor. Although this stigma concerning photography was to some extent overcome through the efforts of teachers at Missouri and Texas, the dissertation concludes that issues of legitimacy for both print and visual journalism will likely continue for teachers in professional schools within the liberal arts university. Teachers will face the challenges of determining curriculum that is sufficiently malleable and relevant to contemporary industry requirements and that also provides the integration of journalism, technology and social science necessary for the education of print and visual journalists who desire to be, more than tradespeople, critically thinking citizens of a democratic society.

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