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Open for Business: How Community Newspapers Covered the Construction of the Japanese-American Internment Camps

Project #: 37
Name: Bishop, Ron (rcbsam@comcast.net; 302-239-6367)
Department: Culture and Communication
Academic Area: Communication

Title: Open for Business: How Community Newspapers Covered the Construction of the Japanese-American Internment Camps

Description:
Previous research has explored how large West Coast daily newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times covered FDR’s Executive Order and later, the internment. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, reporters gave Japanese-Americans the chance to prove their patriotism by at first covering them favorably. But once the U.S. Government developed a strategy for entry into World War II, reporters shifted gears and acted as “sentries” for officials (Donahue, Tichenor, & Olien, 1995), keeping watch in their coverage for a “fifth column” threat that never actually existed. / / Each internment camp had its own newspaper; scholar Takeya Mizuno (2001) has covered the inner workings of those newspapers in great depth. But how the local community newspapers closest to the internment camps covered their construction and opening has not been explored. Open for Business fills this gap, introducing readers to the reporters and editors for these newspapers and providing in-depth analysis of their coverage of the camps and the evacuees’ arrival. / / Dependent on government and military officials for information, these journalists rarely wrote about the violation of the evacuees’ civil rights. Instead, they concentrated on the economic impact the camps – and the evacuees, who would replace workers off to enlist in the military and work for defense contractors – would have on the areas they covered.

Associated Independent Study:
A chapter from the book, based on the fellow's analysis of newspaper coverage of the construction of the Poston or Minidoka camps. To date, I have been unable to find issues of the newspaper closest to these two camps. Locating them would be the first stage of the independent study. From there, all relevant articles would be obtained and analyzed - and then the chapter would be written.

Gained Experience:
An understanding of the history of journalism and the tendency of journalists to tailor their coverage to suit those in power. Students will hone their research and interviewing skills. They will also be asked to distill source material into chapters for the book.

Outcome:
A prospectus for the book based on the research has been accepted by University Press of Colorado. The fellow will assist me in writing the remaining chapters of the book, and, it is hoped, a learning unit appropriate for high school journalism and history students.

Tasks:
Finding, contacting, and interviewing surviving former editors and reporters or their families. Writing sections of the remaining chapters. Tracking down copies of newspapers for several of the camps.

Location:
Much of the work can take place in the fellow's place of residence or my office at Drexel. Additional sites may emerge - perhaps the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Meetings:
Once a week on Wednesdays for research progress updates.

Interview Availability: March 5, March 6, March 7