Medill senior named winner of 2017 Howell Essay Competition
Rachelle Hampton (BSJ17) will receive the $4,000 prize for this annual competition that honors a Medill student’s analysis of propaganda or distortion of the truth in journalism
June 1, 2017
Rachelle Hampton (BSJ17) has won the 2017 Walter S. and Syrena M. Howell Essay Competition. Hampton will receive the annual competition’s $4,000 prize for a Medill student’s analysis of propaganda or distortion of the truth in journalism.
Hampton’s essay, “Stranger Than Fiction: When BuzzFeed Dropped a Bombshell and American Politics Sounded Like a James Bond Movie,” analyzed BuzzFeed’s decision to publish a “dossier” of unverified memos. The memos were compiled as opposition research by a British intelligence officer and to various degrees demonstrated links between the Trump Presidential Campaign and Russian operatives, and, as Hampton points out, were widely disseminated among media and political elites prior to BuzzFeed’s decision to publish.
BuzzFeed came under fire for publishing, and Hampton elegantly deconstructs the media debate around the decision, weighing the widespread access media outlets had to the memos with legitimate questions as to what media outlets knew about the veracity of the claims. While Hampton ultimately decided BuzzFeed made the right choice to publish, she strongly criticizes BuzzFeed for not providing crucial context to its readers.
“The manner in which [BuzzFeed released the dossier], publishing without a detailed analysis of all the claims made within the documents, follows a dangerous trend within the journalism industry,” Hampton writes. “More journalists are disseminating unverified or inaccurate facts in the service of ‘informing’ readers or ‘diversity of views’ and trusting their audience to discern what is and is not correct. In an age where readers inhabit a complex and polluted information environment, it is a fundamental responsibility of journalists to help them navigate that environment with contextualized and clear analysis.”
Hampton acknowledges the tension between “ivory tower” media that presumes to control what the public should know versus an information-free-for-all, but she also suggests a third way. “BuzzFeed could have avoided much of the backlash they received had they published the dossier with commentary and analysis,” she writes. “They could have easily annotated the documents with what was unverified, what was inaccurate, and what was in the process of being verified. The documents could have been updated as more stories broke, essentially demonstrating the process of fact-checking.”
The Howell Essay Competition judges applauded Hampton’s well-argued and comprehensive discourse and solution-minded approach to a topic for which there is still much disagreement in the profession as well as the academy.
Hampton will be graduating from Medill this June and joining the The New Republic as a reporter-researcher. She received a prestigious American Society of Magazine Editors internship during the summer of 2016 and worked at Smithsonian magazine. She has also interned at New America and In These Times magazine.
Senior Julia Clark-Riddell received an Honorable Mention for her essay, “Battle For Berkeley: The Dangers of Oversimplification in the Trump Era,” which used the reporting on violence at Berkeley to examine the inaccuracies of the political labels media use to define current protests and political movements. Julie will be graduating this spring with a double major in journalism and political science and a minor in creative writing.
Medill faculty members Stephan Garnett, Loren Ghiglione and Patti Wolter judged the 2017 Howell Essay Competition.
JOIN US FOR THE 2017 NIEMAN CONFERENCE AND SPEAKER SERIES
This year’s conference will be held Monday, March 27th, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in AMU, room 163. The subject is Discerning the Truth in the 2016 Presidential Election, and key topics include: democracy, President Obama’s legacy, citizenship, and ethics in the campaign. The conference is divided into four hour-long sessions plus a round table session at the end. Sessions start 9:45 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:15 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. for the round table. Download this flyer to see the complete schedule.
About the Nieman Conference
The Lucius W. Nieman Conference, named after the founder of The Milwaukee Journal, Lucius W. Nieman, is an annual event sponsored by the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication. In addition to presenting a public address, the Nieman Lecturers meet with Marquette University students and faculty.
The Nieman Conference and Speaker Series is currently chaired by Dr. Bonnie S. Brennen, Marquette University Professor of Journalism. Past Nieman Chairs include Richard H. Leonard of The Milwaukee Journal, Albion Ross of The New York Times, and Scott Klug, a former U. S. congressman and CEO of Trails Media Group.
Stephanie Craft is associate professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work focuses on journalism norms, practices and ethics and news literacy. Her work has appeared in a number of edited volumes and journals, including Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Media Ethics, Communication Law & Policy, Journalism Studies, Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, Electronic News, and Journalism Educator. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Media Ethics and Journalism & Communication Monographs. Craft is co-author of the textbook Principles of American Journalism (Routledge), now in its second edition.
Steven R. Goldzwig
Steven R. Goldzwig is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the Diederich College of Communication. Dr. Goldzwig has been teaching at Marquette for 29 years. As a rhetorical theorist and critic, his research and teaching has centered on ethics, values, and political communication. His scholarly efforts have been particularly prolific in his investigations concerning public address and the contemporary U. S. presidency. Dr. Goldzwig has published two books on the U. S. presidency, co-authoring ‘In a Perilous Hour’: The Public Address of John F. Kennedy (Greenwood Press, 1995) and serving as the sole author of Truman’s Whistlestop Campaign (Texas A & M University Press, 2008).
Dr. Goldzwig’s research efforts have also resulted in the publication of scholarly articles, book chapters, and book reviews reflecting his expertise on the U.S. presidency, including studies and commentaries on Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, among others. In addition, Dr. Goldzwig has served on the editorial boards of The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Western Journal of Communication, Southern Journal of Communication, and Communication Studies, among others. Dr. Goldzwig has also served as a reviewer for Rhetoric & Public Affairs since its inception.
Mark Lawrence McPhail
Mark Lawrence McPhail is Professor of Communication at Indiana University Northwest. He has held administrative and faculty appointments at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Southern Methodist University, Miami University of Ohio, the University of Utah, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, and Emerson College, and served as the Van Zelst Lecturer in Communication at Northwestern University. He is the author of Zen in the Art of Rhetoric: An Inquiry into Coherence, published by the State University of New York Press, and The Rhetoric of Racism Revisited: Reparations or Separation, published by Rowman and Littlefield. His scholarship has been published in The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, the Howard Journal of Communications, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Qualitative Inquiry, and Rhetoric Review. His creative work has appeared in Dark Horse Magazine and The American Literary Review, and his photography has been exhibited at the African American Museum in Dallas Texas, and the Crossman Gallery, Roberta’s Gallery, and the Cultural Arts Center in Whitewater Wisconsin. He is included in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, and Who's Who Among America’s Teachers, and has received a number of awards including the Albert J. Colton Memorial Research Fellowship, the University of Utah's Tanner Humanities Fellowship, the National Communication Association's Karl Wallace Memorial Award, and Southern Methodist University’s Honoring our Professor’s Excellence (HOPE) Award.
Kathryn M. Olson
Kathryn M. Olson is a professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) and director of UWM’s Rhetorical Leadership Graduate Concentration/Certificate Program. Her research interests include rhetorical criticism and theory, argumentation, and contemporary public address. Her scholarly essays have appeared in journals such as Quarterly Journal of Speech, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Argumentation and Advocacy as well as in books. Olson is co-editor (with Michael William Pfau, Benjamin Ponder, and Kirt H. Wilson) of Making the Case: Advocacy and Judgment in Public Argument (Michigan State University Press, 2012) and has published more than 50 essays. She has won numerous awards for her scholarship, including two National Communication Association Golden Anniversary Monograph Awards and the American Forensic Association’s Daniel Rohr Research Award.
Sumana Chattopadhyay is an Associate Professor of Digital Media and Performing Arts at Marquette University. She received her Ph.D. from University of Missouri-Columbia in 2006. Dr. Chattopadhyay’s research interests include how the media effects public opinion; efficacy, media use and civic participation; presidential debates; and political advertising. She is the co-author of Bush versus Kerry: A Functional Analysis of Campaign 2004, published by Peter Lang. In 2015, Dr. Chattopadhyay was a presenter at the National Communication Association, International and Intercultural Communication Division.
David A. Frank
David Frank has served as a professor at the University of Oregon since 1981 and as the founding dean of the Clark Honors College from 2008–2013. He is also one of 50 Carnegie Council Global Ethics Fellows selected for expertise in international ethics. His research and teaching interests feature what James Crosswhite has recently termed “deep rhetoric,” the study and practice of reason expressed in argumentation seeking justice. Professor Frank's research agenda incorporates rhetorical theory and history, with a focus on Chaïm Perelman’s new rhetoric project, argumentation and forensics education, the rhetoric of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the rhetoric of Barack Obama. Professor Frank has published six books, 13 book chapters, and 35 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has presented 50 papers to international and national conferences on rhetoric, communication, and the humanities.
Martin J. Medhurst
Martin J. Medhurst (Ph.D., Penn State, 1980) is Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Communication, and Professor of Political Science, at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author or editor of thirteen books including, most recently, The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric (with James Arnt Aune), Before the Rhetorical Presidency, and Words of a Century: The Top 100 American Speeches, 1900-1999 (with Stephen E. Lucas).
He is the author of more than 100 articles and chapters in scholarly journals and books. His work has appeared in The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Monographs, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and the Journal of Church and State, among other outlets.
Dr. Medhurst has been recognized with several national awards, including the Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award, the Paul Boase Prize for Scholarship, the Religious Communication Association’s Scholar of the Year Award, the Michael Osborn Teacher/Scholar Award, the Julia T. Wood Teacher/Scholar Award, the National Communication Association’s Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, and the NCA Distinguished Scholar Award.
He is also the founder and editor of the award-winning interdisciplinary quarterly Rhetoric & Public Affairs, now in its twentieth year of publication. In addition, Professor Medhurst is the founder and series editor of the Rhetoric and Public Affairs book series at Michigan State University Press and the founder and former editor of the Rhetoric and Religion book series at Baylor University Press and the Presidential Rhetoric Series at Texas A&M University Press. He also serves as the general supervisory editor of the ten volume Rhetorical History of the United States, currently in progress at Michigan State University Press.
Robert E. Terrill
Robert E. Terrill is a Professor of Rhetoric, in the Department of English, at Indiana University, Bloomington. He received his PhD from Northwestern University in 1996, and has been at Indiana University throughout his entire career. He is the author, co-author, or editor of three books, one textbook, and over 20 essays, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. His work is animated by a practice of rhetorical criticism that takes as its goal the invention of discursive resources that may enable and encourage individuals and groups to participate effectively in civic culture. Most of his publications have focused on African American public address, in part because circumstances often demand that marginalized rhetors be especially inventive as they address the limitations and exclusions that bar access to full citizenship. A natural outgrowth of these intellectual commitments has been his interest in pedagogy, and in particular the role that training in rhetorical criticism should play in the liberal arts and in civic education. In addition, he has found film to afford rich potential as an inventional resource that is especially appropriate for analytical work at the intersection of rhetoric and myth.