As a sequel to Lincoln's Censor, I am re-examining Lincoln and the press. In an article I hope to have published in the fall, i look at Lincoln's gradual change toward a more protective attitude regarding press freedom. It is based primarily on an 1863 letter the president wrote to Major General John M. Schofield, the commander of the Department of Missouri. I conclude that Lincoln, who was basically a moderate and pragmatist, saw that the rule of law must be saved in the long run, which meant discontinuing extra-legal policies of press constraints. Otherwise, his greater goals of reunion and abolition would not occur in the democratic republic the founding fathers created.
I am working on a few ideas for future study. One is a history of the hometown newspaper I never knew, the Greensboro Patriot. It existed for more than 120 years and typical of most papers that lasted that long had quite a few twists and turns politically. I am extremely interested in its origins and early development, primarily because its owners were anti-slavery Quakers. The other study, which I hope to share with a few other scholars, would examine the life of Henry S. Foote, who owned newspapers in the Deep South and was a maverick politician. Moreover, Foote was not the quintessential secessionist. With the exception of a fine dissertation produced at the University of North Carolina, no in-depth treatment exists of Foote's life.
I have proposed writing a book about several high
school student media programs around the country that work in an environment
where the First Amendment functions in the same way it does for the
commercial press. The methodology would include ethnography and in-depth interviewing.
The purpose is to show that student media that operate in a free, open
environment and serve their student bodies as public forums produce
quality journalism. The point of this book will be that journalism students
do better when they have better working (that is, free press) environments.
The idea has come from my work with the High School Journalism
Institute at Indiana University and Iowa High School Press Association summer workship at the University of Iowa. I also believe an in-depth study of the Tinker v. Des Moines case is long overdue -- this is, after all, the fortieth anniversary of that Supreme Court decision.
Porismita Borah, a doctoral candidate at the University
of Wisconsin, and I are both interested in looking closely at the newspaper career of Mohandas K. Gandhi. When I was in Mumbai in January, I went to a Gandhi museum (Mani Bhavan) and found a whole treasure trove of documents from the Mahatma's career, including his days as an editor-publisher of three grassroots newspapers.