UArizona Journalism Professor Emerita Linda Lumsden Wins Top Media History Award

April 11, 2024
Linda Lumsden AEJMC award winner

Linda Lumsden, award-winning scholar and retired University of Arizona School of Journalism professor, was named the winner of the 2024 Donald L. Shaw Senior Scholar Award by the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). 

Lumsden, a longtime journalist, editor, public scholar, educator, freelance writer, and author of five books, was nominated for the award by Carol B. Schwalbe, former director of the School of Journalism. 

“The thread through Linda’s scholarship has been an exploration of how disempowered groups find voice through journalism in their struggles for social justice,” Schwalbe wrote of Lumsden. “Her work has significantly contributed to the history of social justice journalism, the radical press, the black press, the suffrage press, and women reporters.”

The award “honors a scholar who has a record of excellence in media history that has spanned a minimum of 15 years” and is named after historian and theoretician Donald L. Shaw, who taught Lumsden historical research methods when she was a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

“I am absolutely thrilled and really honored to receive an award named after Don Shaw,” Lumsden said. “He came up with the agenda-setting theory, which nobody gets through journalism or mass communication school without learning about.” 

Lumsden is the fifth scholar to receive the award since its establishment in 2020 and she joins the likes of Maurine Beasley, who was the award’s first recipient and has been “a mentor and idol” to Lumsden since graduate school. 

“It’s an honor to be associated with these people and it’s rewarding to know that the work I did for 20 years made a difference,” Lumsden said. 

Lumsden will receive an official plaque and monetary award at an AEJMC History Division gala in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, later this year. 

Sharing the history of journalism

After a decade of teaching at Western Kentucky University, Lumsden became a journalism professor at UArizona in 2006. 

“I came to the University of Arizona because I was so impressed by the quality of the journalism professors and their global experience,” Lumsden said. “It really was just the finest, most welcoming and most generous group of people I've ever worked with.”

Lumsden taught courses on journalism ethics and the history of American journalism while using her background as a historian to introduce new offerings for journalism students. 

“Linda enriched our curriculum by designing and teaching new classes that grew out of her research, including Social Justice Movement Media and Journalism, Gender, and Multiculturalism,” Schwalbe said. 

Lumsden’s research outside of the classroom, which was supported by grants her colleagues helped her secure, highlights the relationship between media and social movements, including women’s suffrage and the radical movements in America seen prior to World War I. 

“I always loved the journalism adage of ‘providing a voice for the voiceless,’ and I think an overlooked part of journalism has been how important having your own newspaper, website, or even social media platform is to disempowered groups,” Lumsden said. 

Throughout Lumsden’s decades-long career, she has won several awards, including top AEJMC paper prizes as a graduate student, AEJMC’s 2017 Best Faculty Paper in the History Division, and the AEJMC-Peter Lang Scholarsourcing competition, which led to the publishing of her book Social Justice Journalism: Social Movement Media from Abolition to #womensmarch. 

“Linda is an accomplished researcher whose work adds to our understanding not only of journalism history but also of the past and present of social justice in America,” Schwalbe said. “Her work reminds us why history matters, because it is all around us in the pressing issues of our day, showing us our possible futures.”

Having formally retired from the School of Journalism in 2021, Lumsden now spends her time visiting family, traveling, and cycling, which she plans to do this summer while visiting Denmark and Sweden.