button Return to student work index.

Return to Department of Communication index.

Mass Media History

A journal of undergraduate research by students at the Department of Communication, North Dakota State University, Fargo.
Volume 1, 1998

© 1998 by the Department of Communication,
Box 5075,
North Dakota State University,
Fargo, ND 58105 USA.

For information about this or any other department program or publication, please call or write Paul Nelson, chair, or Ross Collins, associate professor and Mass Media History editor, at the address above, or by e-mail: Ross.Collins@ndsu.edu

The department thanks Tom Riley, dean of the NDSU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, for his encouragement of, and financial support for, this publication.


By Ross Collins

Interest in history in America seems to reflect a peculiar dichotomy. On the one hand, most of us remember the famous chestnut by Henry Ford, "history is bunk." He reflects the opinion of many Americans, supposedly, that history is not very important to our daily lives.

Students in university history classes, too, reputedly feel bored, stifled by all those names and dates.

But wait a minute...if we dislike history so much, then why are we so fascinated with it? Television is filled with historical documentaries, recreating America's past, most recently, in its Revolution, its Civil War, its Irish immigrants. Controversy over names and dates long dead boil up as new as a few months agowhen George Washington's name was sanded from a school ediface be cause the first president of the United States owned slaves. More positively, black powder and medieval clubs recreate the past as a hobby. And archives here and abroad must expand to keep up with genealogical diggers.

Perhaps history, as a formal study, has a bad rap because we teachers have made it sound too boring, too dusty, too irrelevant. The story of hiSTORY has been my academic interest since teen days, but I'll admit sometimes it was not because of, but in spite of, an instructor or two. I don't know if I offer much of an improvement in my own history of the mass media class at NDSU. But cer tainly the students whose research papers are published here show real fasci nation as well as facility in facing the challenge of digging back. More than just dry chronology, their work shows understanding of what good history ought to be: a question asked, an answer found, a story told. That is, they consider facts, interpretation, and narrative, the three prongs of good history.

Not only that, they've considered what we call primary sources--not what others have written after the fact, but what they have found first-hand from going back to the original documents. That's what all the best historians do, and it's impressive to see that understanding at the undergraduate level.

Mass media history, particularly topics of regional interest, has been unfairly neglected. This new publication, the result of a class taught every other fall semester at North Dakota State University, aims to fill a little of that gap, and to offer a needed showpiece for good students who worked hard on their research, and deserve an audience wider than an instructor calculating grades. On these pages you'll read of how journalists looked at Native Americans demonstrating for their rights, and how they looked at celebrities in the world they left. You'll read of news magazines and their coverage of the quiz show scandals, as well as the university's public relations office, and its coverage of the campus for publicity. Lastly, you'll learn how to see with one of the area's influential photographers.

I hope you enjoy the work, and welcome your comments.

Ross Collins, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of communication.

Table of Contents

I. Jennifer Glidden:
The Second Battle of Wounded Knee: Print Media's Portrayal of Native Americans.

II. Cameron Haaland:
The 1950s Quiz Show Scandal: A History and a Comparison of Magazine Coverage Between Newsweek and Henry Luce Publications.

III. Robyn Quandt:
Diana, Marilyn and Jean: Celebrities Invade the Media.

IV. Rebecca Summers:
To Snare a Student: Permutations in Public Relations Publications at NDSU.

V. Matt Tompkins:
Photographer Fred Scheel; A History.

Jennifer Glidden:

The Second Battle of Wounded Knee: Print Media's Portrayal of Native Americans

When members of the American Indian Movement occupied this small but symbolic South Dakota community in 1973, American media flocked to the site, just as they had nearly a century before. But did their stereotypical coverage change much? Not really.

Russell Means, a leader of the American Indian Movement, expressed his reasoning behind the group's 1973 siege of Wounded Knee, South Dakota:

Now, this is our last gasp as a sovereign people. And if we don't get these treaty rights recognized as equal to the Constitution of the United States as by law they arethen you might as well kill me, because I have no reason for living. And that's why I'm here in Wounded Knee, because nobody is recognizing the Indian people as human beings.(1)

The siege of Wounded Knee was just one in a series of many events in the late 1960s and early 1970s in which the American Indian Movement (AIM) dem onstrated to the world the denied rights and broken promises of Native Americans from the United States Government. To better understand the actions of AIM, it is essential to look at the history of how Native Americans have been treated by the media, which dates all the way back to the first newspaper created in the United States. In 1690, editor Benjamin Harris started the newspaper, Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, which lasted through only one publication. In its single issue, the newspaper mentioned Native Americans in at least two of its articles. For nearly 100 years after the founding of our coun try, the press covered Native Americans issues from the "Indian problem" per spective. The invention of the Penny Press of the 1830s appealed to the com mon man, reaching the masses in the United States. Since 1830, the treatment of Native Americans by the media can be characterized into categories. Wilson and Gutierrez outline these five stages as: (a) exclusionary, (b) threatening issue, (c) confrontation, (d) stereotypical selection and (e) integrated coverage phases. (2)

The exclusionary phase is explained as having a huge impact on race relations development. "Lack of coverage of people of color in the White news media had the effect of asserting their lack of status, a powerful social psychological message delivered to majority and minority groups alike." (3) These authors suggest the "noble savage" attitude resulted from colonial expansion and the white settlers apprehension that the Native Americans would resist. Therefore, the threatening issue is seen as the print media's por trayal of Native Americans as "savages" and the whites then are elevated to a hero status. This leads to the third phase, in which confrontation between the two groups is inevitable, the "us versus them" perspective.(4) The stereotypical selection stage includes minority "success stories" and reassures the majority that those minorities are still "in their place" and also that they pose little threat to society because they "manifest the same values and ambitions of the majority."(5) These authors claim that the last phase is still somewhat of a vision for the future, but say the increase in the majority's sensitiv ity to these issues coupled with the increase in minorities working in the news media have helped to create a representation of minorities in all types of news stories.(6)

Native Americans' images seem to be trapped in a certain time period of America's history. Historically, the press has perpetuated these inaccurate and stereotypical images of Native Americans, countering the fair, objective and factual ideals of which journalism is thought to represent today. Stereotypes have been repeated, instead of challenged, which has "given these images the weight of factuality."(7) These ideas were addressed by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly known as the Kerner Commission, in 1968. In its report, the commission evaluated the state of minorities in the country, specifi cally looking at African Americans. It devoted a chapter to the news media coverage of the 1967 riots in many major cities of the U.S., condemning the cover age and claiming the press "has too long basked in a White world, looking out of it, if at all, with White men's eyes and a White persepective." (8) Did this report, along with the civil unrest of the 1960s and 1970s change the white world's perceptions of the Native American? How did the press cover the American Indian Movement? Did the portrayal of Native Americans in the press diffe r from the past, or did false images still exist?

The American Indian Movement started in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1968 as an organization that guarded Native Americans from harassing police. AIM evolved into a group which believed in gaining back the rights the Native Americans once had before the colonists arrived. They wanted the government to own up to all of the treaties promised to their people. AIM wanted action and this was a time in the country's history where minorities were active and being heard, and therefore, making some headway with civil rights issues. On November 20, 1969, a group of Native American activists, many of whom were college students in the San Francisco area, took over Alactraz Island, occupying it until June 1971. They claimed the had permission by nineteenth-century federal law that said unused federal land could be reclaimed by some tribes.(9) This was followed with AIM members, as well as other Native Ameri cans, participation in the Trail of Broken Treaties demonstration that lead to the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 1972. All of these political events climaxed at the Siege of Wounded Knee in 1973.

Symbolically, the confrontation at Wounded Knee represented the histori cal last battle of the Indian Wars in 1890. On February 27, 1973, AIM leaders Russell Means and Dennis Banks took over a church, trading post and other buildings at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. AIM members wanted treaty rights to be enforced, the public to be informed of Native American conditions on reservations, and wanted Richard Wilson, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council president, to be ousted. Well-armed federal marshals and FBI agents surrounded the encapment for 71 days. The demonstra tion received world wide press coverage, as the Associated Press, United Press International, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times, reported on the scene. (10) At its end, the demonstration had cost the lives of two Native Americans, and injured one federal marshal.

The news media's coverage of the event seemed to report on the events in a few different ways. Usually though, these methods overlapped. It is important to point out that not all of the cover age was negative; in fact, some was very positive in promoting Native American rights. However, some of the media saw the confrontation as similar to that of a war. Most of the media coverage incorporated some old stereotype of Native Americans into their stories. Going along with this idea, Native Americans became portrayed as the "poor and destitute Indian." Some reporters viewed the siege as a dramatic ploy by AIM and played on their stories using the idea drama. Finally, the "Indian-ness" of Native Americans was rediscov ered and celebrated by some reporters.

Many magazine articles referred to AIM leaders and followers as "militants." This gave an impression to the public that a war was going on. As one critic noted, the coverage "seemed to be from a 'war correspondent's perspective,' as though Wounded Knee II were a military engagement." 11 Parallels were also drawn to the historic Wounded Knee of 1890, claiming then "that the last Indian resistance to the U.S. Government was crushed."(12) This clearly could have been viewed from the "us versus them" per spective, as was noted earlier.

Negative stereotypical images of Native Americans could be found in many publications. This movement was considered by some to be the "Indian problem," pronouncing that "American Indians are on the warpath again" (13) or referring to Native Americans as "warriors." (14) One white businessman in South Dakota called many Native Americans "lazy and unreliable."(15) Richard Woodbury, a Time correspondent, described that, "Familes wanting to take in the action have come to Pine Ridge in the dilapidated cars with crunched fenders that are the Indian's trademark," and that the "solemn-faced Indians" took it all in. (16) A Newsweek article employed humor with their ste reotypical image in telling how a TV cameraman showed some Native Ameri cans how to kill and skin a cow because they had "forgotten how." (17)

It was difficult not read an article at this time without seeing some mention of the poverty Native Americans were living in and depicting a bleak reserva tion life. Some articles were quick to point out the unemployment rate of Native Americans (40% of Indians on reservations), the sub-standard income (on average about half the amount of the U.S. average), the high infant mortality rate and the low life expectancy rate (64 years, compared to the 70.5 years aver age). Even the Indian tribes of Oklahoma, who had a reputation as being the "rich est and most successful Indians in American" fell behind other minorities, like African Americans and Mexican Americans.(18) This could have evoked feelings of sympathy in some, but recognizing few achievements of the race also could have perpetuated the idea of Native Americans as being somehow sub-human and inad equate to live in the white world.

The "pathetic drama" unfolded like a tragicomedy to some reporters covering the Wounded Knee story.(19) The seriousness of the issues and people involved were taken lightly and the attitude seemed to be that the Native Americans were exploiting the media. "The Indians insisted on outmoded makeup (war paint) and melodramatic lines ('Massacre us or meet our human needs')." (20) This approach discredited the movement by portraying the event as mere theatrics. The coverage of the siege also tried to bring to the forefront the Native Ameri can culture, celebrating their "Indian-ness." This may have been a positive step for the media. Learning about the culture's past became a very important point made in some articles. There seemed to be a resurgence in Native Americans wanting to take pride in their heritage, skin color, languages and ceremonies.(21)

Were Native Americans treated fairly by the press during the Siege of Wounded Knee? Joy Stinnett, Director of Native American Programs at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, believes the media was selective in choosing their information and therefore, the event wasn't covered as fully as it could have been. "AIM brought to focus a lot of stereotypes because they were being more vocal, more militant, the focus was there and be it journalists or reporters where they wanted their focus to bewhether it was the American Indian down on the street corner or the American Indian in the work environment." (22) She doesn't view the demonstration as a success for Native Americans, but instead sees sovereignty issues and education and health care issues recognized through treaties as achievements. Society's changing attitudes can be seen in the more multicultural textbooks, videos, films and school curriculum. 23

Paul Boswell, Communications coordinator for Fargo-Moorhead's Tri -College University, and a longtime observer of Native Americans in journalism, agrees. "Those in power are striving to be politically correct. Leaders are at tempting to elevate ourselves to a 'Rainbow Coalition,' where we are a multi -faceted society, rather than just white people." (24)

Jennifer Glidden is a senior majoring in English and mass communica tion.

Return to table of contents


1. Publisher's Introduction to Voices from Wounded Knee,136. Quoted in Murphy, James E. and Sharon M. Murphy, Let My People Know: American Indian Journalism, 1828-1978 . Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981, 9.

2. Wilson II, Clint C. and Felix Gutierrez, Minorites and Media Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1985, 134-35.

3. Ibid., 136.

4. Ibid., 137.

5. Ibid., 138.

6. Ibid., 139-40.

7. Weston, Mary Ann, Native Americans in the News: Images of Indians in the Twentieth Century Press. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996, 2.

8. Kerner Commission, Report of the National Advisory Commission of Civil Disorders, (Bantam, 1968), p.389. Quoted in Wilson II, Clint C. and Felix Guiterrez, Minorities and Media (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, Inc., 1985, 137.

9. Josephy, Buffalo's Gone, 229. Quoted in Weston, 138.

10. Murphy, James E. and Sharon M. Murphy, American Indian Journalism, 1828-1978, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981, 8 11. Streb, "Trap at Wounded Knee," Time, March 26, 1973, 67.

12. "Behind a Modern-Day Indian Uprising," U.S. News & World Report, March 12, 1973, 36.

13. "Behind the Indian's Uprising: What They Have And Want," U.S. News and World Report, November 20, 1972, 109.

14. "Real Goals of the Restless Indians," U.S. News and World Report, April 2, 1973, 27.

15. Ibid., 28.

16. "A Suspenseful Show of Red Power," Time, March 19, 1973, 17.

17. "Indians: Birth of a Nation," Newsweek, March 26, 1973, 22.

18. "Real Goals of the Restless Indians," U.S. News & World Report, April 2, 1973, 27-8.

19. "The Siege of Wounded Knee," Newsweek, March 19, 1973, 22.

20. "A Suspenseful Show of Red Power," Time, March 19, 1973, 16.

21. "Real Goals of The Restless Indians," U.S News & World Report, April 2, 1973, 28.

22. Stinnett, Joy. Personal Interview, 8 December 1997.

23. Claymore, Gus. Personal Interview, 8 December 1997.

24. Boswell, Paul. Personal Inteview, 5 December 1997.

Cameron Haaland:

The 1950s Quiz Show Scandal:
A History and a Comparison of Magazine Coverage Between Newsweek and Henry Luce Publications

Revelations that the game shows so popular during the infancy of American television were rigged shocked 1950s America. Coverage of the story was extensive in the news magazines, but Luce publications seemed most interested.

The decade of the 1950s was a tranquil one in America. Harry Truman gave way to Dwight Eisenhower, terms like "massive retaliation" were heard often in the news, and many important technological advances occurred. Among these events were the development and construction of the interstate highway sys tem, the beginning of the space race and the ever-growing prevalence of work -saving devices in American homes.

However, television was one of the most popular developments of the 50s. Television had actually been invented in 1929 by Vladimir Zworykin, had minimal success until 1945, and then took off around the early 50s. Programs like "I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners" graced the small screen. Television quickly became a staple and replaced radio as the top mass medium in America.

The first game shows broadcast in America premiered on July 1, 1941. "Uncle Jim's Question Bee" and "Truth or Consequences" were aired on New York City's first NBC affiliate, WNBT Channel 1.(1)The game show boom on American television did not occur until about 1953. The country's appetite for game shows increased incredibly. Shows like "Beat the Clock," "What's My Line?" and "The $64,000 Question" became some of the most popular shows of the decade. In fact, "The $64,000 Question" was one of the only shows to surpass both "I Love Lucy" and "The Ed Sullivan Show" in the ratings.(2)

Another one of the top quiz shows, especially in the middle and late '50s, was a show called "Twenty-One." The show aired on NBC and it brought the network to new heights. Its popularity rivaled that of CBS's "The $64,000 Ques tion." However, "Twenty-One" went through what is considered one of the biggest scandals in American history. My research into the subject will answer the following question about media coverage of the scandal:

· The quiz show scandal received considerable coverage in the media, particularly in magazines. Compare and contrast the coverage of Newsweek magazine and of two of Henry Luce's most influential publications, Time and Life.

This research will consist of the following items.

· A brief history of "Twenty-One,"

· The events leading up to the trouble for "Twenty-One" and NBC,

· The aftermath of the scandals and how it contributed to America's later distrust of quiz shows, and

· Research results of how the aforementioned magazine coverage was the same, and how it was different.

History of "Twenty-One"

"Twenty-One" debuted on Sept. 12, 1956, on NBC's regular prime time sched ule. The show was hosted by Jack Barry and packaged by Jack Barry and Dan Enright Productions.

"Twenty-One" required a powerful intellect and a whole lot of perseverance. The show received about 225 applicants per week. Applicants were required to take a 100-question preliminary quiz at the outset. Those scoring well went on to take a grueling, three-hour, 363-question quiz covering most of the 108 cat egories on the show. Applicants making it past this ultimate test of brain power went on to the final phase of the screening process, which was a two-hour inter view conducted by the show's producers.(3)

The game was based on the popular card game blackjack. Contestants were kept in soundproofed isolation booths complete with heaters to make them sweat a little more than they already were. The object of the game was to be the first to score 21 points by answering general knowledge questions. The questions were worth one to 11 points, de pending on the difficulty. The contestant chose how many points to play for in a given category. After two rounds of questions, either player who thought he or she was winning could stop the game. The winner received $500 for every point he or she was ahead of their opponent, and if there was a tie, the same contestants returned the following week, with the stakes rising by $500 a point. The winners returned every week until they were defeated.(4)

Because of this, enormous jackpots became the rule. Charles Van Doren, who will be discussed in much more detail later, collected $129,000 in almost four months on the show. The biggest "Twenty-One" winner was Elfrida von Nardroff, who won an astounding $220,500 in the spring of 1958. (5)

The show was canceled on Oct. 16, 1958, amid talk that it was fixed.

The Rise and Fall of "Twenty-One"

One man made "Twenty-One" as popular as it was. His name was Charles Van Doren. He came from a family known for its intellectualism. Van Doren's mother, father and uncle were all accomplished writers and had several of their prose and poetry works published. Van Doren was making a modest $5,000 a year as an associate professor at Colum bia University in New York City.(6)

Late in 1956, Van Doren decided to audition for "Tic Tac Dough," another Barry/Enright-packaged show. On the urging of Enright and "Twenty-One" producer Albert Freedman, Van Doren changed his mind and agreed to appear on "Twenty-One."

However, there was a twist.

To become a "Twenty-One" champion, Van Doren had to defeat Herbert Stempel, a seemingly unbeatable contestant. Stempel enjoyed the fame and popularity of being a "Twenty-One" champion, but the show's ratings began to sag. This concerned both the show's sponsor, Geritol, and NBC. Enright did have a plan to unseat Stempel from his perch.

Enright told Stempel to deliberately miss a question to allow Van Doren to become the champion. Van Doren was also fed the answers to the questions in advance. This was not known to the public; Enright saw this as an opportu nity to boost ratings and, as he called it, an opportunity to do something for the cause of education. Van Doren initially resisted Enright's plan, but he decided to go along with it in the end.

Stempel was beside himself when he was asked to tank on a question he knew immediately. He fudged on "Marty" as the Oscar winner for Best Picture in 1955. Van Doren became the champion and was thrust into the spotlight.

Van Doren went on to appear on the program for a period lasting from November 1956 to March 1957. In this time, Van Doren became a na tional celebrity overnight. He received over 500 marriage proposals via fan mail.(7) As mentioned before, he went on to win $129,000, although that was trimmed to a tidy $38,000 after the Internal Revenue Ser vice had its way with the matter.(8)

Ratings for "Twenty-One" went through the roof while Van Doren was on the show. His personality appealed to many people and the show really was helping out the cause of education. In fact, a former contestant on the show spoke very highly of Van Doren: "He is the teen-ager's parents' answer to Elvis Presley."(9)

Meanwhile, Stempel was on the outside looking in. He was desperate to get someone to listen to his side of the story. He contacted many newspapers not only in New York City, but throughout the state. No one was listening.

Van Doren continued his reign as "Twenty-One" champion until March 11, 1957, when he failed to name the king of Belgium. Vivienne Nearing was the lucky person to dethrone Van Doren. Van Doren left the show not only with his huge winnings, but a new job on NBC's "Today" show alongside popular host Dave Garroway.(10)

Things remained fairly quiet until the late summer of 1958. Van Doren was frequenting Washington, D.C., at the request of NBC to prepare him for his future public affairs programs. He was the recipient of a three-year contract

from the network and he also continued to teach at Columbia. (11)

However, that quiet soon broke. If it hadn't been for a gentleman named Edward Hilgemeier, a substitute contestant on another quiz show, "Dotto," Van Doren's secret would have remained secret. Stempel would have probably been just another contestant who lost on "Twenty-One."

Hilgemeier was awaiting his chance to be on "Dotto," another one of the popular quiz programs in the late '50s. In fact, the show was so popular that it had a daytime version on CBS and a prime time version on NBC. One day Hilgemeier was waiting backstage while a woman named Marie Winn competed on the show. Winn made the cardinal mistake that got the quiz show scandal ball rolling: She left a notebook backstage.

Hilgemeier picked up the notebook and began leafing through. As he did this, he discovered something startling: the notebook contained every answer to every question Winn was asked on the show.

"Dotto" executives found out about this and offered Hilgemeier $1,500 to keep quiet about the notebook.(12) He wouldn't have any part of it.

The notebook ended up in the hands of the Federal Communications Commis sion, who said the matter was beyond its jurisdiction. Hilgemeier then took it to "Dotto" sponsor Colgate-Palmolive Inc. The sponsor could see what was coming and canceled the show the very next day.(13) Hilgemeier also talked to New York district attorney Frank Hogan, who announced that four quiz shows, including "Dotto," were under investigation.

At this point, Stempel reentered the picture. He charged publicly that he had been coached on how to act on "Twenty-One" and that he had been told to lose because of low ratings. NBC called the charges a fake. Enright then stepped to the fore and accused Stempel of trying blackmail.(14) Enright and host Jack Barry went on to produce a document signed by Stempel saying that he had received no coaching on the show. (15) Enright appealed to the public by saying, "Don't condemn us all in wholesale fashion. Lift the mystery and establish the facts." (16)

Stempel wasn't through. He too went to see Frank Hogan. When this occurred, the newspapers were listening this time. Two New York newspapers, the World-Telegram and the Sun and Journal, published stories. Both papers were promptly slapped with libel suits from NBC and from Barry/Enright Productions.(17)

The response to these allegations was mild. Van Doren insisted that he never received coaching on the show and said that "if Stempel was acting, he was completely fooled." Elfrida von Nardroff, the winningest "Twenty-One" contestant ever, said it was "inconceivable the shows could have been fixed." (18)

Another "Twenty-One" contestant named Jim Snodgrass also stepped for ward in this hullabaloo, and what he said made the quiz show fixing seem very conceivable. Snodgrass appeared on the show a few months after Van Doren was beaten by Vivienne Nearing. He revealed that he had mailed three registered letters to himself containing all of the questions and answers he was to be asked on the show. He also told of the coaching he received: "I was told when to miss a question, when to pause, when to fumble for an answer."(19) NBC went ahead with its own investigation of its own show. "Twenty-One" was taken off the air in October 1958, not because of the recent accusations, according to NBC, but because of low ratings. By this time, a New York grand jury had called 67 witnesses on the matter. (20)

About a month later, producer Albert Freedman was indicted for perjury. He testified under oath that he had not been any part of coaching contestants or giving them answers in advance.(21)

By this time, the scandal had reached a position of national importance. A U.S. Congressional subcommittee began investigating the whole ugly mess.

Effect of the Scandal on America

Ultimately, Charles Van Doren could not hide from the "Twenty-One" scandal. A subpoena found its way to Van Doren in New York from Washington.

Van Doren succumbed and told of how he, too, was a part of the fix. He testified that he had been coerced onto the show by Enright and Freedman "for education in general."(22) For this, Van Doren lost his jobs both at NBC and at Columbia.

Enright also admitted that "fixing had been in force for many years." (23) One of the main reasons for the fixing was the fact that the show's sponsor, Geritol, only covered $520,000 for contestant winnings. The rest of the money, if it was needed, came right out of the pockets of Barry and Enright.(24)

On a related note, New York DA Hogan also said that of the 150 witnesses testifying before the grand jury, no more than 50 were telling the truth. (25)

In the wake of the scandal, President Eisenhower made a strong statement regarding the rigging of television quiz shows: "I think this was, if it was done, a terrible thing to do to the American public." (26)

In the end, the scandal left behind many heavily damaged careers and ru ined reputations. However, NBC was never implicated in any of the specific charges. Enright admitted that all the shows he produced were fixed in some form. Even though the careers of both Jack Barry and Dan Enright took serious blows, they both returned in the 1970s to produce several successful game shows, including "The Joker's Wild" (which had a successful run for nearly three years on CBS and another nine years in syndica tion), "Bullseye" and "Hot Potato."

Quiz shows went on in America for years to come, but the public distrusted these shows for quite a while, even though rigging was illegal.

Scandal Coverage by Newsweek Magazine

Newsweek really seemed to push all of its articles regarding "Twenty-One" and the scandal to the back of the magazine on many occasions. The magazine had a special "TV-Radio" section, a small two- to four-page section talking about the popular television and radio programs of the time. Granted, when Van Doren was on the show, he and the show received extensive coverage, but it was still behind all the current events, which it should be in a publication such as Newsweek.

The magazine also did a fair job of covering some of the other major quiz shows like "The $64,000 Question." That show had its own share of big winners, including the now-famous psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers, who dazzled America with her knowledge of boxing en route to winning the $64,000 jackpot.(27)

As far as covering the actual scandal went, Newsweek didn't do as good of a job as Time. Time's coverage went much more in depth on the scandal and the events leading up to the Congressional subcommittee hearing. About the only event Newsweek did cover well was the whole "Dotto" notebook incident with Edward Hilgemeier.

The only article Newsweek placed toward the front of the magazine was the one that included President Eisenhower's quote about the scandal.

Scandal Coverage by Henry Luce's Time and Life

Time and Life did a much better job of in-depth reporting on Van Doren, "Twenty-One" and the scandal itself.

Life magazine ran limited material on the subject, but one of the most interest ing was an extended article written by Charles Van Doren. In the article, he explains how he gained his vast knowledge. He also told of his fame, having received over 20,000 letters. The most compelling statement of this piece, however, is Van Doren's denial of missing the question about the king of Belgium intentionally.(28)

Life also complemented Time's coverage by running a large article on the scandal in the Oct. 19, 1959, issue. Life's use of quotes is also very good considering it did not publish very many articles about the subject at all.

Time's coverage was second to none. It was the only magazine to run a cover photo of Charles Van Doren (Feb. 11, 1957, issue). The cover story, titled "The Wizard of Quiz," described in detail not only the life of Charles Van Doren, but of his family as well. "The Wizard of Quiz" label stuck for months afterward.

As Van Doren continued as champion, Time went as far as to almost give blow-by-blow (or match-by-match, in this case) coverage of Van Doren as he col lected upwards of $100,000. There is even a short piece when Van Doren is finally beaten by Vivienne Nearing. Strong coverage continues even after Van Doren has left the show.

When the scandal begins to come about, Time also uses powerful quotes to get its point across. In the May 9, 1958, issue, a transcript of a taped conversation between Herbert Stempel and Dan Enright is published. Those looking for a lot of dirty words and such in this con versation, such as the one acted out by John Turturro and David Paymer in the movie "Quiz Show," will be disappointed. Stempel does, however, disclose that his "Twenty-One" winnings have gone to an illegal bookmaker.

During the actual scandal, the powerful quotes and strong coverage re mained, but the editorials took center stage. Time editorials compared this scandal to the 1919 Black Sox baseball fixing scandal, which was quite a comparison. The actual news presented by Time was also much more compelling.


The quiz show scandal left a black eye on the face of American television for years to come. The game show business rebounded and flourished in the 1970s, but the scandal involving "Dotto," "Twenty-One" and several other quiz shows of the period would not be forgotten.

It was very pleasant to see that magazine coverage of the whole situa tion, from beginning to end, was excellent. Newsweek , Life and Time have continued their long-standing traditions of coverage of current national and world events since the heyday of the 1950s. It is apparent that this tradition runs back into the heart of the 20th century as well.

Cameron Haaland is a senior majoring in mass communication.

Return to table of contents


1. Schwartz, David, Steve Ryan and Fred Wostbrock. The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows. 2nd ed. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1995, xvii.

2. Schwartz, et al., xx.

3. "On Getting Rich Quick." Newsweek 11 February 1957, 74.

4. Schwartz, et al., 213.

5. Schwartz, et al.,213.

6. Schwartz, et al., xix.

7. "On Getting Rich Quick," 74.

8. "Getting Rich on TV." Newsweek 25 March 1957, 63.

9. "Getting Rich on TV," 63.

10. Holms, John P. and Ernest Wood. The TV Game Show Almanac. Radnor, Penn.: Chilton Book Company, 1995.

11. "Out of the Booth." Newsweek 25 August 1958, 58.

12. "Scandal of the Quizzes." Time 1 Sept. 1958, 38.

13. "How Queer the Quiz?" Newsweek 8 September 1958, 86.

14. "TV Quiz Business Is Itself Quizzed About Fix Charges." Life 15 September 1958, 22.

15. "How Queer the Quiz?" 87.

16. "Quiz Scandal." Time 8 September 1958, 43.

17. "Quiz Scandal," 44.

18. "TV Quiz Business Is Itself Quizzed About Fix Charges," 23.

19. "Telling Tales on '21.'" Newsweek 6 October 1958, 52.

20. "Squeeze on the Quiz." Newsweek 27 October 1958, 88.

21. "Quiz Man in a Jam." Newsweek 17 November 1958, 63.

22. "Out of the Backwash of the TV Scandals...The Question: How Far for the Fast Buck?" Newsweek 16 November 1959, 66.

23. "The Big Fix." Time 19 October 1959, 67.

24. "The Big Fix," 67.

25. "Out of the Backwash," 63.

26. "The Ordeal of the TV 'Hero.'" Newsweek 2 November 1959, 23.

27. Barrett, Marvin. "The TV Quiz How Far?" Newsweek 5 May 1958, 107.

28. Van Doren, Charles. "Junk Wins TV Quiz Shows." Life 23 September 1957, 137.

Robyn Quandt:

Diana, Marilyn and Jean:
Celebrities Invade the Media

The interest of newspapers in exhaustive coverage of celebrity deaths seems to be on the increase, and techniques of sensationalism have grown as well.

Want to know who is doing what with whom? Pick up a tabloid and find out. There will probably be more information about every star than you thought possible. There are stories about Prince Charles having an affair with Camilla, and a tape saying he wants to be a Tampax so that he can be close to her.(1) Or how about what Madonna has for supper? But tabloids aren't the only places to find stories on celebrities. Reputable maga zines, television shows and newspapers such as The New York Times also contain stories and sound bites about celebrities. "We're soaked in celebrity."(2)

After hard work to achieve fame, celebrities face a down side. To be fa mous requires that privacy be thrown out the window. Anything that celebri ties say is analyzed thoroughly. Kathy Lee Gifford said wonderful things about her loving husband and children on her television show, but now the tabloids are throwing it back into her face with all the recent scandals of her and her hus band. "The message to celebrities is clear: if you say one thing and do another, prepare to be de voured."(3)

According to Shenk, the roots of modern celebrity jour nalism can be traced to Walter Winchell. Winchell is the father of the gossip col umn. A few other journalists wrote about celebrities in the 1930s and 1940s, but not many. In quality publications, their stories were usually placed around movie ads.(4)

The next major step toward modern media celebrity ideals came with televi sion in the late 1940s. "Anyone who appeared on the box found fame, and anyone with fame found celebration."(5) Television enabled more people to be seen by a mass audience. The next stage came at the end of the 1960s. Artist Andy Warhol launched a magazine called Interview, which emphasized fashion designers, musicians and politicians, and included photo spreads. It paved the way for new magazine in 1974 called People. That magazine continued the tradition started in Interview, and focused its attention on celebrities. Rolling Stone in 1967 was the first magazine to have top-caliber writers writing stories of the celebrities.(6)

Although more and more coverage was now devoted to celebrities in even quality papers, the writing that went into celebrity articles was usually high quality. This is still true today. While these writers are considered good, they pigeonhole themselves by writing articles that cannot be critical or ask tough questions, because the celebrities will not agree to future interviews. Because of this, the job of the writer has evolved to conveying the message that "celebrities deserve our attention because they're celebrities."(7)

Changes in Coverage

It appears that, through the years, journalists have changed in what they covered in newspapers. There seems to be a trend to give more coverage to celebrities in serious papers than ever before. To examine this phenomenon, I have chosen three famous celebrity women from three different historical periods: Princess Diana (1990s), Marilyn Monroe (1960s) and Jean Harlow (1930s). I looked at the New York Times and the Fargo-Moorhead Forum to compare how both papers covered the reports of these women's deaths.

Princess Diana's death was reported on August 31, 1997, in both of these papers. The Forum published the story on the left side of the front page. The story is from the Associated Press (AP) in Paris. Included is a relatively large picture of the Mercedes that was in the crash. Diana and her friend Dodi Fayed appear in mug shots (small facial photographs) next to the crashed car photo. The story also contains a sidebar giving brief descriptions of stories on page A5 that include Diana's life story, the television news breaking the story to a stunned audience and a story on recent paparazzi (celebrity photographer) clashes. The headline on the top of the front page is in large, bold type bearing the words "Diana dies in Paris Crash," which runs across the whole page.

The deck headline is three lines reading "Companion Fayed, chauffeur also die after paparazzi pursuit." The story itself is only two columns, not very long, but it jumps to the back page under the headline Diana. It is much longer than what is on the front. The space on the front is taken up with the photo graphs. The other stories on the front page include one about a "bird lady" and El Niño's effect on the weather. The Diana story dominates the front page of the Forum.

The New York Times ran the story of Diana's death on the front page also. The only picture to accompany the story is a large one, of Diana's smiling face. It was taken at the opening of an arts center in Leicester, England. There is no photo of the crashed vehicle. The story and the photo are placed on the right top of the front page, opposite of the Forum. The story is one column and extends down the whole page. The headline "Diana Killed in a Car Accident in Paris" runs across the top of the paper in large bold type similar to the Forum's headline. The story isn't an Associated Press story, however. It is by Craig Whitney, writing for the New York Times . The story continues on page 10, where a picture of the crashed car is now featured, and a headline underneath reading "Diana and Arab Friend Die In Automobile Crash in Paris." Underneath this headline is the story, continued from the front page. The rest of the story is in two short columns.

The important distinction between the two news stories that I intend to analyze is the amount of sensationalism included in celebrity coverage. One way to make a story more sensational is to take a "narrative approach, with narrative techniques, namely, the use of significant detail that fires the imagination, essential in all storytelling."8 Other methods of sensationalism as developed in the nine teenth century include the layout of the story, such as front page coverage with substantial space given to that particular story. Short sentences and words also are a mark of sensational writing style.(9)

The stories in the Times and Forum both use the sensationalistic element of front page coverage. Both gave Diana quite a bit of room, with the headlines across the top. The stories themselves, though, are different: the Times story includes more facts and less sensational ism than the story appearing in the Forum. Take the first sentence of the lead paragraph of each for example. "Diana, the Princess of Wales, was killed shortly after midnight today in an automobile accident in a tunnel by the Seine," reported the Times. The Forum reports, "Britain's Princess Diana, who had been struggling to build a new public and pri vate life after her turbulent divorce, was killed today along with her companion, Dodi Fayed, in a car crash as their Mercedes was being pursued by photographers." The Forum story starts out with more descriptive elements about Diana, which makes the readers feel closer to this woman, so they feel her death even more. As stated before, this is a method of sensationalism. The Times doesn't use that approach, but uses a more factual style.

The Forum also reports more personal information, such as the fact it was unknown if Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, knew of their mother's death right away. The Times only reports that Diana had two sons, at the end of the story, when it briefly discusses her history of marrying Prince Charles. The Forum also reports that "the high-speed pursuit ended in a crash in the tunnel that trapped several people in a pileup." This language is more colorful than the Times' story. It is interesting to note that both papers have one paragraph that reads the same, word for word. Both say, "the police said the car was totally wrecked. The impact was so great, the car's radiator was hurled onto the knees of the front-seat passenger. The princess was in the back seat." The only differ ence between the two is that princess is capitalized in the Times' version. This however, is the only example of the two papers writing exactly the same thing.

Both papers report that Diana was with Fayed. The Times gets his full name accurately, Emad Mohammed al-Fayed, who was called Dodi by some. The Forum only reports him as Dodi Fayed. Other differences include who is quoted. The Forum includes three paragraphs of two American tourists who were nearby when the car crashed. The witnesses reported seeing the car after it was wrecked. The Times doesn't include the witnesses' comments. Instead, more space was given to Dodi Fayed's background. Both papers give a brief back ground of information on Diana, but the Times gives more than a brief description of Fayed's background.

The Diana story is an example from the 1990s. I wanted to see how different it was in the 1960s, with the coverage of Marilyn Monroe's death in the Forum and the Times. Marilyn's death was reported by both papers August 6, 1962. I don't think the coverage she got was too dissimilar from Diana. I did note that the Forum was more sensational than the Times , but both covered the death extensively.

The Forum placed the story of Marilyn's death in the top left hand corner of the front page. Included are two pictures, placed above the story. The small photos depict Marilyn with her second husband, Joe DiMaggio, and with her third husband, Arthur Miller. There is no large headline running across the top of the front page, as was the case for coverage of Diana. There is instead a three-line, three-column headline reading "Many Angles Offer Puzzle in Death Of

Marilyn Monroe." Of course, the format of the Forum is different from today's newspaper. The paper is divided into smaller, more numerous columns. The text is in a smaller point size, so the Forum is able to print more on the front page for Marilyn than it did for Diana. The story is written by James Bacon, but it is an Associated Press story from Holly wood. The story is continued on page 3 where readers find a larger picture con taining the cover of a London newspaper that gave Marilyn's death wide front-page coverage.

The story in the Times is a little different. Editors there placed the story more in the middle of the page at the top. As in the Forum's treatment, no large headline span across the top of the page. The layout of the Times includes fewer columns than did the Forum of 1962, but still more than in today's Times. The Marilyn article fills three columns in the middle of the page. Her picture fills the middle column. Spanning the three columns is the headline "Marilyn Monroe Dead, Pills Near." To the left of the pic ture is subheadline reading "Star's Body Is Found in Bedroom of Her Home on Coast," and to the right of her picture is another subheadline, "Police Say She Left No NotesOfficial Verdict Delayed." Both of these subheads are half the size of the larger headline, but run three lines.

The article is noted as a special to Times , but no author is credited. The story is continued on page 13, that page devoted entirely to Marilyn. Included are four large pictures of her at different stages in her career. The story continued from the front page is under the jump headline "Marilyn Monroe Dead, Pills Near." It is one column long, but runs from the top of the page to the bottom. In the Forum, another story of Marilyn Monroe and how her life paralleled Jean Harlow's, in addtion and one other story, is on page 3, where the front page story continues.

The stories for both papers are very different in tone. The Forum's story is much more sensational than the Times'. One quality of sensationalism in a story, as I noted earlier, is to use a narrative approach, the"use of significant detail that fires the imagination, essential in all storytelling." In the Times, the first paragraph takes a "just the facts" tone, while the Forum relies more on a storytelling tone. The first paragraph of the Times reads, "Marilyn Monroe, one of the most famous stars in Hollywood's history, was found dead early today in the bedroom of her home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. She was 36 years old." In the Forum, the first paragraph reads, "A doctor smashed his way into a locked bedroom and found Marilyn Monroe dead in bed, nude, a telephone clutched in her hand, an empty pill bottle nearby."

It would be hard for me to say the Forum reported Marilyn's story as hard news. There are many descriptive phrases that make it more suited for a tabloid publication, not a respected newspaper. The first paragraph shows this, and the story continues in a similar way. For example, the phrases "the mys terious death brought a tragic end," "trouble-scarred life," "the frightened waif," which all appear in the third paragraph, illustrate the sensastionalist emphasis. More appear throughout the story, such as "dis traught, seeking reassurance," "awakened by an uneasy dread she couldn't explain," "thus in death the screen's sex goddess," and "mysterious personality."

The story in the Forum pretty much calls the death a suicide, while the Times says, "pending a more positive verdict by Dr. Theodore J. Curphey, the coroner, the Los Angeles police refused to call the death a suicide." The Forum does not say officially the death is a suicide, but emphasizes that "she apparently died either late Saturday or early Sunday of an overdose of sleeping pills." The Times reports that an empty bottle that had contained sleeping pills was found near her bed, but adds other bottles of medicines and tablets were there also.

I wanted to go back further and see how both of these papers covered Jean Harlow, a celebrity from the 1930s and contrast that with the stories of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. The Forum had the story of Jean Harlow's death in the June 7, 1937, issue. The story appears on the top of the front page, in the middle. At the top of the page, on the other hand, is a very large boldface head line, "City Seeks $250,000 for Auditorium." Underneath this headline in type half as large, is "Jean Harlow, Platinum Blonde of Films, Dies," which runs across the page. The column that contains the story includes a two-line headline reading, "Uremic Poison Kills Actress." There is a picture of Jean beneath this, a little larger than a mug shot. The story doesn't have a cited writer, nor is it credited to the Associated Press. The story is only nine paragraphs long, and not continued to another page.

In comparison, the Times didn't run a story on Jean's death until the next day June 8, 1937. It was not the lead story: the main headline on the June 8 issue reads "C.I.O. Seizes Michigan Capital to Protest Pickets' Arrest; Snarls Traffic, Shut Mills." Jean Harlow is on the bottom of the front page. Coverage fills two col umns, and a twoline headline reading "Jean Harlow, Film Star, Dies in Holly wood At 26 After an Illness of Only a Few Days." The story is a special to the Times. Another story starts in the second column, credited to the Associated Press. This article gives more information about the estate that she left behind, and her background.

The tone of both of the stories are pretty much the same: they don't in clude the sensationalism that was part of the Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana stories. They are both short, although the Times' story looks longer because it is really three different stories. The first is only six paragraphs long. Both stories stick to the facts of her death, how she was in a coma from uremic poisoning.

That Times' article begins by describing "Jean Harlow, blond beauty of the screen," while the Forum begins describing "Jean Harlow, platinum blonde film star actress." Both papers give the readers a description of her in the first sentence, but the stories are pretty stark. No elaborate descriptions of how won derful or luminous she was. Both papers devote a paragraph to the treatments administered to her the night before she died in a coma. Both papers also say that her mother and William Powell, a companion, were at her bedside when she died. The Times also mentions that her stepfather and cousin were also there. The Forum includes information about her three marriages and divorces. The Times doesn't mention that in the first story, but the second story includes details of her career and marriages. The third story in the Times notes all the people who spoke at her funeral.


There is a definite trend towards more sensational coverage of celebrities in today's papers. The story placement, size and amount of photographs, and headlines have become more important. In this examination, both papers gave Diana prominent spots on the front page, large headlines running across the top of the page and stories that make her into someone almost better than human. I think that this is what both the papers did for Marilyn Monroe also. The New York Times gave a whole page to her, not counting the story and photograph on the front page. The Fargo-Moorhead Forum had two stories on the front page, a continuation on page three and two other stories on the same page.

The writing style in coverage of the women is also different. I think that the Forum was more objective covering Jean Harlow, but became more sensationalistic covering Marilyn and Diana. The Times was also more objective for Jean Harlow, but was also more objective than the Forum in coverage of the other two celebrities. Nevertheless, I think that the Times still could use less sensationalism in their coverage. It isn't as bad as the Forum, but it is distressing to see that amount of space and attention given to the celebrities. As unfortunate as it is, other people commit suicide or die in car accidents, but there is not the amount of coverage for those stories as there is when it happens to someone who is a celebrity.

Nothing is wrong with reporting when someone famous dies, or how they die. But it is a shame to make it more than what it really is. The coverage Jean Harlow got was adequate, and that is all that Diana or Marilyn needed. But both Marilyn and Diana got a lot more. This was not part of this study, but I remem ber also that the Forum covered almost every inch of Diana's funeral also tele vised around the world.

That makes me wonder about the future of the news. Will the front pages of newspapers we depend on for important information about the world become cluttered with the doings of celebrities? I found the news of Diana's death just as shocking as the rest of the world, but I didn't want to know every intimate detail of her death and funeral.

The fact that celebrities are invading even serious newspapers such as The New York Times is scary to consider. As I have demonstrated, this phenomenon has been gradually becoming more and more frequent. Is this a response to reader demands? Do papers report on celebrities more than serious issues, such as new laws in consideration, the Social Security crisis or the wars in developing countries, because that is what readers want? Are papers forgetting their respon sibility to inform the public? It will be interesting to see if celebrities get even more coverage in the next few decades, or if the public will wake up and realize there is more to the world than what Madonna has for supper. I am hoping that, as with fashion, there is a cycle to journalism. When I read the papers or watch the news, I want to see something more than what the celebrities are up to.

Robyn Quandt is a junior majoring in mass communication.

Return to table of contents


1. Barbara Amiel, "Charles, Diana, and the role of the media." Maclean's, Vol. 106 No. 5 (Feb. 1, 1993), 13.

2. Joshua Wolf Shenk, "Star struck." Washington Monthly, Vol. 28, No. 6 (June 1996), 12.

3. Jonathan Alter, "In the time of the tabs." Newsweek, Vol 129, No. 22 (June 2, 1997), 32.

4. Shenk, 12.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ward, Hiley H., Mainstreams of American Media History. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1995, 153-4.

9. Ibid., 154.

Rebecca Summers:

To Snare a Student:
Permutations in Public Relations Publications at NDSU

Published promotional materials have long been essential to university recruitment efforts, but at NDSU their message has changed over the past three decades. Today's material includes more photographs, depicts a more diverse student population, and shows the university experience to be less serious and more fun.

Public relations is a necessary practice for every business and organization. According to the book Public Rela tions in Business by Jacquelyn Peake, a definition of public relations is "the planned persuasion to change adverse public opinion or to reinforce favorable public opinion and the evaluation of results for future use.(1)

Public relations people must interact with a variety of groups, including employees, the press, the community, and the government. A public relations person must help the business or organization relate to these publics, and vice versa. Public relations people must be prepared to persuade, motivate, inform, and inspire. Davis Young, in his book Building Your Company's Good Name , wrote that "Communications should be clear and direct, should inform, should appeal to people's best interests, and should appeal to the eye and the ear." (2)

Wilcox, Ault, and Agee named six essential elements of public relations: 1) Deliberate, 2) Planned, 3) Performance, 4) Public interest, 5) Two-way communication, and 6) Management function. These elements are essential to the public relations person and he/she must be aware of all of them in order to communicate effectively with the public.

According to René Henry in Marketing Public Relations , publicity is the basic tool and workhorse of public rela tions. It is often space and time that is donated by the media. The primary objective, says Henry, is to communicate a story. A story appearing in a magazine or newspaper is more believable to the reader than a paid advertisement is. There is a strong impact on public awareness at a much lower cost than advertising.(3)

Public relations is used to direct a specific message to a target audience. This message can be in a number of forms, including a news release, feature story, magazine story, column item, sound bite from radio or television, photograph, video news clip, audio tape, letter to the editor or op-ed piece, press conference, or special event.

According to Raymond Simon, there are six components of the public rela tions field: 1) Management function, 2) Relationships between an organization and its publics, 3) Analysis and evaluation through research, 4) Management coun seling, 5) Implementation and execution of planned program of action, communi cation, and evaluation through research, and 6) Achievement of goodwill. These six elements are important in any public relations effort in order to receive the approval and support of the public.(4)

Hugh Culbertson and Ni Chen believed public relations practitioners seek to persuade as well as build relationships. Persuasion is most effective when people feel a sense of community. This requires a "sense of interconnectedness and social cohesion."(5) People must feel they are a part of something larger than themselves. Identification of and commitment to values and beliefs are also important in order to gain a sense of community. Public relations practitioners must strive for common ground between the issue and the target public so that they can obtain a feeling of empowerment and involvement in making and implementing decisions that affect their personal lives.

Public Relations in Educational Institutions

Public relations is used in every organization, including higher education institutions. Scott Cutlip, author of Effective Public Relations , discussed the concept of public relations in higher education institutions. "As classical education gave way to curricula respon sive to the needs of the twentieth century, as the demand for extension grew, and as the need for money increased sharply, the college administrator turned, sooner or later, to the use of publicity and, ultimately, to public relations," said Cutlip.(6)

Cutlip also noted that college administrators must work with the dimin ishing support of society and against the loss of confidence in collegiate institu tions. They must work against the challenges of publicists, politicians, and researchers who say a college education is not worth while. Many states are also cutting back financial support for colleges because of increased monetary demands from programs such as welfare, highway improvement, and health aid.

According to Cutlip, public relations people must be able to target several publics with their messages from a higher education institution. These messages must be carefully constructed, for each target audience has a different role the university would like them to play. Students must serve as goodwill ambassadors for the university. Faculty and staff must be kept informed of poli cies and programs and must have a voice in policy-making. The campus should relate itself to the surrounding commu nity and get community members involved. Parents should be reassured that the college is providing a good home away from home. Alumni should be involved in campus life, for they are important supporters of the university. Finally, other publics such as prospective students and donors, opinion leaders, and the legisla ture need messages that will convince them to support the university.(7)

According to Kowalski in Public Relations in Educational Organizations, the National School Public Relations Association claims that educational public relations is "a planned and systematic two-way process of communications between an educational organization and its internal and external publics designed to build morale, goodwill, understanding, and support." Kowalski's definition of public relations in educational institutions is "an evolving social science and leadership process utilizing multimedia approaches designed to build goodwill, enhance the public's attitude toward the value of education, augment interaction and two-way communication between schools and their ecosystems, provide vital and useful information to the public and employees, and serve as an integral part of the planning and decision-making functions." (9) Both of these definitions show that public relations is a necessary part of universities and it requires communication with several publics. A posi tive image must be obtained and maintained for the university to thrive.

A Brief History of University Public Relations

University public relations efforts date back to 1643, for a Harvard fund-raising project. In 1758, commence ment activities were started at Columbia University, more for publicity purposes than to honor the graduates. The turning point for educational public relations happened several years after the Civil War due to the rapid growth in industry. The first publicity office was established at the University of Michigan in 1897. In 1917 the American Association of College News Bureaus was formed. A dissertation by B. Fine of Columbia University said that it was "likely that colleges were prodded into this (public relations) field because of competition from other fund -raising organizations rather than as a result of their desire to keep the public in touch with their purposes and activities. It is possible, therefore, that instead of recognizing their social obligation, the colleges merely climbed on the band wagon of the publicity wave that swept the country soon after the end of the (First) World War."(10)

After World War Two came the greatest advancement in public relations programs at universities. The American College Public Relations Association, the former American Association of News Bureaus, had 800 members in 1946. Since then, public relations efforts at colleges and universities has grown rapidly. Public relations, alumni relations, and fund raising have all become impor tant aspects of university promotion. The American College Public Relations Asso ciation had grown to represent 3,200 school in 1994. North Dakota State University has joined in these public relations efforts and their promotion strategies and the way students are depicted has improved over the last several decades.

Public Relations Efforts at NDSU

Public relations is my major emphasis at North Dakota State University, and because of this I am intrigued by the public relations aspect of the university. The NDSU University Relations Center, like every other university public rela tions office, faces the challenge of promoting the university to various target publics. The way that the relations office approaches this task has changed some what in the last several decades. I chose to examine the history of the promotion of NDSU and the depiction of its students by studying university catalogs and other promotional materials from the 1960s and 1970s. By doing this I hope to get a better idea of the challenges they faced compared to the present efforts of promotion.

I began this task by searching the NDSU Library Archives. I found univer sity catalogs from every year so I examined those from the 1960s and 1970s. I did not find extreme differences within the years themselves but found notice able changes from those periods and the present. Listed below are some of the changes that occurred from the 1960s and 1970s to the present day.

The Look: The old catalogs are about half the size of the ones produced now. The early catalogs were simply called Catalog, and in 1965 the name changed to Bulletin. As the years progressed, the covers of the catalogs became more interesting and pleasing to the eye, using decorative backgrounds, pictures, or drawings. The early catalogs were simple and used a single color for the cover. All of these changes were made in order to appeal toward the current and prospec tive students. The more interesting the catalog is, the more likely students are going to be interested in looking at it.

The Purpose: As the years progressed, the catalog becomes more and more geared toward efficient use by the students instead of impressing them with university facts. Faculty and staff listings are moved to the back of the book in stead of the beginning, and things that are more important to the students, such as campus rules and class listings, are moved toward the front. These changes are definitely important to the promotion of the university to its current students. Making things more accessible and easier to use will encourage good thoughts about the university by current students.

Photographs: Photographs also started changing from the early 1960s to the 1970s; only in the first catalog I looked at were there captions under the photos. Most of the pictures were small and were of buildings around campus, along with several students doing various things. This format gradually changed as photographs became larger, sometimes even full-page. More and more students were being shown instead of buildings. The sports section showed only pictures of the men's teams, and finally in the 1976-78 Bulletin was a picture of a women's basketball team along with a paragraph reading that the women's athletic department was improving. These efforts may have done wonders for the female enrollment numbers, and brought more female athletes to NDSU. There are few photographs in the early editions of the catalogs, unlike today. The number of photographs steadily increased within the catalogs. Photographs seem to be more popular in recent times than they were in the past because an important feature of a publication today is to be pleasing to the eye as well as to inform. Students also begin to look less formal and more casual in photographs. More pictures of student life are shown, as opposed to the early editions when almost every picture shows a student studying or learning in some way.

A book from the University Archives, entitled Coming of Age: NDSU During the 1970s; an informal chronicle of people and events at NDSU,was also of some help in examining how the university was depicted to target audiences. It tells of the improvements of the univer sity through the late 1960s and into the 1970s. There is a separate section for each aspect of the university, including people, finance, students, academics, each college, teams and organizations, etc. Each section tells what is happening and how the university has improved. This would be a great promotional piece for prospective students, parents, alumni, and other potential donors. I did not come across anything like this that was dated past the 1970s. This book was a great effort to promote the university's good points. Today, means such as the internet are also used for information and promotion.

A personal interview with Gerald Richardson revealed an insider's opinion on the differences of the portrayal of students from the 1960s and 70s to the present day.(11) Richardson, now retired, worked for nearly 30 years with publica tions at NDSU, and has excellent background experience with NDSU's promo tional materials. He said that "In the earlier times there was a tendency in photographs to make things look collegiate, they kind of had a 'Hollywood look.' It was a far cry from reality, especially in the 60s."

Richardson added that photographs now rely more heavily on showing high technology. Students are often shown working with computers and advanced lab equipment. "There is a shifting image, one that is moving from serious and academic to fun and carefree," said Richardson.

He also said photographs included in the Bulletins from the 1960s and 70s did not represent a cross-section of the student body. He felt that the 1960s were part of an era when people consid ered "plain white vanilla" kids to make the best subjects for photographs. Richardson said it was "racial insensitivity" by people who did not think about including those from minority groups in their photographs. In recent times, a more definite focus has been placed on making sure a cross-section of the student body is represented. "Sometimes the staff would comment that we didn't have a picture of someone from a certain ethnic group and we would make an effort to go out and get a picture of them to include in a publication," said Richardson.


Public relations has had a long history and is an important part of any university. Every university public relations campaign must be carefully con structed in order to persuade the publics that are targeted. Students must be depicted in ways that represent the student body and also make the college look academically and technologically advanced and socially acceptable.

North Dakota State University has faced the challenge of successfully pro moting the university and appealing to current and prospective students, par ents, alumni, the legislature, and other publics. They have had a significant improvement in the publication of the university catalogs in portraying students. As the times change, so does NDSU's publications. It is a constant struggle for University Relations to create new and innovative publications and it was a learning experience to compare their efforts from the 1960s and 1970s until the present day.

Rebecca Summers is a senior majoring in mass communication.

Return to table of contents


1. Peake, Jacquelyn. Public Relations in Business . San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980, 1.

2. Young, Davis. Building Your Company's Good Name: how to create and protect the reputation your organization wants and deserves . New York: AMACOM, 1996, 53.

3. Henry, René A. Marketing Public Relations: the hows that make it work. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1995, 67.

4. Gordon, Joyce C. "Interpreting Definitions of Public Relations: Self Assessment and a Symbolic Interactionism-Based Alternative." Public Relations Review, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring 1997), 59.

5. Culbertson, Hugh M. and Chen, Ni. "Communitarianism: A Foundation for Communication Symmetry." Public Relations Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Summer 1997), 38.

6. Cutlip, Scott M. Effective Public Relations . Revised 5th editions. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1982, 551.

7. Cutlip, 563-568.

8. Kowalski, Theodore J., Editor. Public Relations in Educational Organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1996, 7.

9. Kowalski, 9.

10. Warner, Gary A. "The Development of Public Relations Offices at American Colleges and Universi ties." Public Relations Quarterly. Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer 1996), 36-39.

11. Richardson, Gerald. Professor Emeritus, NDSU Communication. Personal interview. 4 December 1997.

Matt Tompkins:

Photographer Fred Scheel:
A History

Historical biography is a traditional way historians help explain the past and the present through key actors. One of those most influential to the significant but neglected history of photography in this region is Fred Scheel, who has influenced a generation through his photographic conservation as well as his own work.

I. The Life, the Technicalities

Today there are many forms of art in the world. From painting and all its forms, to sculpture and the manipulation of metals and woods, art has seemed to have always existed. Photography is also one of those arts. In the earliest days, however, photography was always seen as a form of entertainment or a utilitysomething to be used as a storage for imagery and memories, with very little thought for art.

In this century, however, photography truly has established itself as an art, and photographers have found themselves seen not only as tradesman, but as artists.(1)

Although he is perhaps better known in the Midwest as senior partner in the Scheel's Sporting Goods chain, Fred Scheel is also one of those artists. In photography, Scheel had modest beginnings. At age ten he acquired his first camera, an Eastman Baby Brownie that cost only ninety-eight cents, and ever since he has considered himself a "serious amateur" photographer. Those first pictures showed much promise. When he was thirteen, he moved up to a five -dollar Eastman 120 Folding Kodak. Later that same year, he got his first picture published in Sports Afield magazine.(2)

Later in his life, Scheel attended the University of Minnesota to study forestry, and fought with the Marine Corps as a pilot in World War II. He came home after the war to work at his father's hardware store in Fargo.(3) Throughout the following fifteen years, Scheel shot a lot of wildlife pictures. "I don't hunt anymore," he said in an interview with the Fargo-Moorhead Forum, "because now I use a camera, it's just as much fun."(4)

In 1961, Scheel had the opportunity to attend an Ansel Adams workshop in Yosemite National Park. There he learned a great deal about the art, but he also made friendships with some of the most highly regarded contemporary photographers of the time. "Adams, André Kertesz and especially Brett Weston are the among those who have helped Scheel hone his craft," wrote Forum reporter Ross Raihala, in his 1995 article on Scheel.(5)

Scheel also graduated to a new camera: the view camera. The 1970s brought more view cameras, with larger four-by-five-inch negatives, although he continued to use his thirty-five millimeter cameras. "You can get a good sixteen-by -twenty print with a good, clear thirty-five millimeter negative," he explained. "Four -by-fives just make darkroom work easier."(6) Larger negatives generally allow for easier fine-tuning while processing an image, larger prints with less grain, and even more clarity in those prints.

Scheel returned for many more of Adams' workshops after 1961, and he kept up the relationships he made there. He worked extensively with Weston, and formed a lasting friendship. For more than ten years, the two photographers would get together to shoot photographs. The two would go to Hawaii, among other places, and take photographs for four or five hours in the morning. Then they would spend the rest of the day in the darkroom. Several of Weston's prints eventually became part of Fred's collection.

"Because of, first, school, then the war, and then a career in business," Fred wrote in his book A Search to See, "my photography had to live until recently on the time I could extract form those pursuits." And although recent years have allowed for a lot more time to spend on photography, Scheel has never claimed to be a full-time photographer. At seventy -six, he is well past the age that most retire, but Fred still works at the Scheel's corporate office in Fargo.

"I like to work," he said in an inter view with the Forum. "These other fellows could run it very well without me, but I've had a lot of experience. I can go to a store they're having trouble with and spend two days getting all the details. They don't have the time. I like the business very much. At one time, I said I would quit when I was forty."

Despite work, Fred still tries to spend at least thirty hours doing photog raphy a weekwhether it be taking the images, darkroom work, or collecting and sorting. He hopes to live well into his nineties and never plans to quit photographing.(7)

II. The Collection and Recognition

As mentioned earlier, Scheel has become a prominent photo collector, although that too came with time. He bought his first print, a portrait of Winston Churchill, in 1946. At the time, he bought it because of the man, not the photograph, but he kept buying other prints; a Harry Callahan print followed next, and then a W. Eugene Smith picture, and of course a few Ansel Adams prints were among the first purchased. In time, Scheel had quite a collection built up. (8)

By 1983 he came to call his collection "A Search to See: The Collection and Photographs of Frederick B. Scheel," and the collection was put on exhibit throughout the country. An accompanying book, entitled A Search to See, was published along with the exhibit. It had some of Scheel's favorites from the exhibition.

Through the years, the exhibit has grown. In 1995, Scheel published his second book, A Search to See II, which consisted of only his photographs. It was made up of five decades of carefully chosen black-and-white photographs.

"If I ever publish another book, it will be called A Search to See III," Scheel said in a telephone interview. "It's all about being able to see." The third book is always in the back of his mind. He continually sorts through the "organized mess" of his collection, looking for the best prints. In the next book, if there is one, Scheel is hoping to have some of his color photography. David Gardner, the maker of the last two books, apparently can reproduce color slide negatives with the same high quality as the black-and-white prints. (9)

Throughout the years, Scheel has had his photographs and selections from his collection displayed locally at the Plains Art Museum and The Rourke Art Gallery in Moorhead, Minnesota, as well as the North Dakota State University Library and the Fargo Public Library. The "A Search to See" exhibition has been seen all over the area as well, including The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Winnipeg (Manitoba) Art Gallery, and many other museums and galleries. The show is still moving around the country and was to be in Monterey, California, late in 1997.(10)

Scheel found that the exhibit was the best way to share his collection. "I used to send prints all over North America and Europe," he elaborated, "but they came back so beat up. You see, a photograph is fragile as an egg. All it takes is a bend on the corner of the mount or a scar and it is ruined." (11) The traveling exhibit seemed a much better way to show both his work, and his favorite pictures from his collection.

With his large collection of prints and apparent knack for photography, a man like Fred Scheel is bound to receive attention. And although he does not look to win awards, Scheel has been given many. In 1976, his pictures won him first through fourth place and four merit awards in the Forum Snapshot Contest black-and-white division. There were over one thousand entries, so it was quite a feat. (12)

About competition, Scheel said, "It's not that I want awards, but that I know myself how good I am and how good I am not." He explained, "You never know how good you can be until you really go to work on something, really devote yourself. Whether your going to be a runner in a marathon, a football player, photographer, a writer, or whatever your going to be, unless you really give it some time, thought, concentration, you never know how far you can go." (13) Fred Scheel gave his devotion to photography, and he has gone very far. For him it is more than a pastime. "I try to average thirty hours a week just doing photography," says Scheel, "It's not just a hobby, but an integral part of my own life."

III. A Style by Lack of Style

Does Scheel associate any particular photographic style with his work? "I don't aspire to any particular style at all," he said. He explained he was not looking for the one great format, the one great picture, to top them all. He likened it to Ahab and the whale, from Moby-Dick. Ahab was transfixed with the one possibility of catching the one great whale, whereas Scheel would rather open himself up to all the possibilities. He would rather take pictures of anything that presents a good composition, with good form. "My search today is for form. Almost any subject can be worthy but only form can make it so."(14) This search for form holds little restraint, and leaves the possibilities almost completely open.

The only stylistic conditions he sets for himself are technical. If something is generally still and flat, with little movement, he uses the camera with a four-by -five negative; if there is movement, he generally switches to the thirty-five millimeter camera. The negatives from the two cameras are then the only limits.(15)

One could associate Scheel with his favorite subjects to photograph, but it is too wide a variety of things. He has his favorite places: Maine, Hawaii, the Canadian Maritimes, and even the country schools of western North Dakota, but all of these have open availability of subjects, be it people, landscapes, or precisely cropped images.

Another near-stylistic view of Scheel's is his continuous search to see. Brett Weston was the one to bring this way of viewing the world to Fred's atten tion. "He [Weston] taught me how to see. He was always looking for something different; he was always pushing the horizon. Eventually I got to where I could see, too."(16) The search to see seems to me to be a continuous search for form and composition everywhere one looks.

The search seems to sometimes push the limits of conventional photography, as in Fred's picture "Manitoba." The photo consists of a simple image of industrial buildings and power lines, but is precisely cropped so that one never really sees any one main focus. Brett Weston's "Hawaiian oasis" was also an unconventional image. It shows texture by shooting a virtual wall of trees, but the image still has depth.(17)

Both the examples seem to me to be images that everyday people see in their everyday lives, but never really see. I think that is the talent that Scheel and Weston have; a simple ability to see fantastic images others may overlook.

Another aid in Scheel's search is having his camera along as a constant companion. "I used to go skiing and I'd ski for three or four days. At the end of the time I'd have nothing." Now whenever Scheel travels, it is for photogra phy.18 When he goes to a new town, he often spends time walking the streets or driving through the country, simply looking for images to capture. He once told the Forum, "I try to picture what it would be like if I didn't have my camera along, and I wouldn't enjoy it even a quarter as much."(19)

Another way of looking at things came about in A Search to See II, where Scheel comes back to the idea of the hunt. "Man has fashioned a new lance the camera. And what a lance it is! Today's hunt is limited only by the ability of the eye to perceive, the quarry solely by our esteem for our fellow man." This seems to be another highly stylistic, if very open, view of photography. As a tool of evolution, the "new lance" can capture not just animals (as past hunting tools did) but moments and feelings, context and form. It also does no physical harm, but still allows man to hunt. This view of Scheel's is the one that best defines his style. It is not in the images but in the method.

In A Search to See II, Scheel further explains his method. "Visually, little in nature, or in the product of man, is well ordered. The joy of photography, whether collecting or making photographs is the hunt to find those rare instances when all perspectives and currents coincide long enough to be come and intriguing two-dimensional image."

IV. A Look, and Now a Close

Throughout his life, Fred Scheel has been dedicated to photography. His simple beginnings led him further into an art form that has treated him well.

His love of photography brought a collection of many of the finest pictures in the world. Scheel is amazing also because of all of the great people he has met in his study of photography. He is a virtual wealth of information on the major photographers of the last six decades, but he was also considered friend to many of those greats.

Scheel also has a style about him by a lack of style in the general sense. I believe his style comes from all the things he does to simply open his mind up to the possibilities.

I would argue that Fred Scheel is also a "great photographer"; that his name be included when Ansel Adams and Brett Weston are brought up. Locally, he has done much to bring the culture of photography to the area and he has earned recognition for it. His collection continues to travel to museums all over North America, and continues to show the findings of his search.

In the end, however, I think Scheel's search to see is an internal journey to hunt and discover all the wondrous images he can. He is a symbol of dedica tion to one's art.

"All of this has been given to us," Scheel was once quoted as saying, "we don't have to invent the camera, we don't have to make the lens, we don't have to come up with chemicals and paper. Basically, ninety percent has been given to us, we only have to do the last ten percent. It's magic all of the way along the line. I'll never tire of it." (20)

Matt Tompkins is a sophomore majoring in mass communication.

Return to table of contents


1. Scheel, F., personal interview, 10 November, 1997.

2. Raihala, R., "A Continued 'Search to See.'" Fargo -Moorhead Forum, 3 September 1995, C4-5.

3. Scheel, F., telephone interview, 4 November 1997.

4. Raihala, Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Scheel, personal interview, Ibid.

7. Raihala, Ibid.

8. Scheel, telephone interview, Ibid.

9. Scheel, personal interview, Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. "Fred Scheel sweeps snapshot contest." Fargo -Moorhead Forum, 7 August 1976.

13. Scheel, telephone interview, Ibid.

14. Scheel, F., A Search to See. Moorhead, MN: Gardner /Fulmer Lithography, 1983.

15. Scheel, personal interview, Ibid.

16. Raihala, Ibid.

17. Scheel, A Search to See, Ibid.

18. Scheel, personal interview, Ibid.

19. Raihala, Ibid.

20. Ibid.