Northwestern faculty member publishes journalism history book on college newspapers

January 18, 2018

Dr. Kaylene Armstrong

Dr. Kaylene Dial Armstrong, who teaches journalism at Northwestern Oklahoma State University as an assistant professor and advises the student newspaper Northwestern News, has published “How Student Journalists Report Campus Unrest” through Lexington Books, an academic book division of Rowan & Littlefield.

Armstrong, the daughter of Elmo Dial of Rigby, Idaho, and the late Nila Dial, graduated from Rigby High School, Ricks College and Brigham Young University. She has a master’s degree in communication from Utah State and a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Her book embodies the bulk of her 2013 dissertation about newspapers on college campuses during the protest years of 1962-70; however, it also includes a new chapter on the student newspaper at the University of Missouri during the 2015 protests there. In all, she conducted interviews with more than two dozen people who had been student editors and reporters writing for their college newspapers about the protests on their campuses.

The protest-era chapters cover significant events that also reflect the variety of the issues students protested about during that time. These included integration at Ole Miss in 1962, the free speech movement at Berkeley in 1964, take-over-building protests about race and the Vietnam War at Columbia and Howard in 1968, and escalation of the Vietnam War that led to shooting deaths at Kent State and Jackson State in 1970.

Armstrong said the best part of writing this book was listening to all the stories from the student reporters and editors who lived it.

“Most journalists tell other people’s stories, not their own,” she explained. “Finally, these journalists got to tell their own stories of what was happening at the newspaper at the time the campus was engulfed in protest. Some of these stories had never been published before.”

Armstrong said these former students told of being harassed by other students, administrators or even state officials who disagreed with what they were writing. At one point after the Kent State shooting, some students at the University of Utah tried to take over the newspaper. The editor of The Daily Chronicle told of publishing the newspaper from the OB/GYN office of another editor’s grandfather so the dissidents couldn’t stop them.

“These are just a few of the stories,” Armstrong said. “Many of these former students have great stories like these to tell.”

Armstrong said historians write little about student newspaper history but should consider doing so.

“Most journalism historians don’t even realize that student newspapers have the deepest history of all the different genres of newspapers,” she said. “Most of the newspapers that historians study from the first days of printing – such as the colonial press, the penny press, the labor press – have disappeared. But the college student newspaper continues to survive at almost every campus in America, and it has done so for almost 200 years. No other genre of newspaper can make that claim.”

Armstrong’s book can be checked out at Northwestern’s library and is available for purchase on Amazon.


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