Journalists and Historians
Photo courtesy The Philadelphia Inquirer
"What happens to news when journalists and historians join forces" - Nieman Reports
"Bridging the communication divide between journalists and historians" - Lenfest Institute
The Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University received a grant from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism to partner with The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships at Drexel University on infusing more historical scholarship into local journalism.
The Lepage Center, Lenfest Center, and The Inquirer collaborated through the grant on a pilot initiative to bring together local historians and local journalists who each research and report on common topics of critical import to society: the opioid crisis, immigration, and infrastructure.
Select Inquirer journalists and local historians participated in a one-day working session to share expertise, resources, and formulate story ideas around these three societal issues. Following the workshop, the journalists and historians have collaborated on stories that appeared in either The Inquirer or Inquirer.com. Podcast conversations and/or audio stories may also be released.
This initiative between historians and journalists is envisioned as an initial step in bringing these two professions into closer working relationship. The Lepage Center will seek additional support to fund similar collaborations in Philadelphia and other cities.
-An initial working session was held on June 28 in the Philadelphia Inquirer newsroom. Seven journalists and eight historians exchanged expertise and story ideas on the topics of immigration, infrastructure and the opioid crisis.
-On July 15, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story about nativism, and remarks by President Trump to four female Members of Congress. Information about anti-Irish nativist riots in 1844 was included in the article based on archival collections housed at Villanova's Falvey Library.
-On August 11, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story about contemporary immigration debates, and whether demonstrations in Philadelphia against administration policy have had an effect. Information from the Lepage Center helped to frame the story idea, and Lepage Center director Jason Steinhauer was quoted.
-On September 15, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer collaborated with the Lepage Center to publish a featured commentary examining where the American story begins. The story was timed with the 400th anniversary of 1619 and featured four historians participating in the Center's "Revising Early America" event.
-On October 11, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Villanova historian Whitney Martinko and Villanova history graduate student Katarina Anderson for a story on haunted houses that earn revenue on Halloween and the responsibilities of those sites to tell their broader histories.
-On October 27, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an opinion piece titled "Americas divides have never been simple." The piece was written by Lepage Center director Jason Steinhauer in advance of the Lepage Center's "Revising the Civil War" event.
-On January 21, 2020, Nieman Reports and Nieman Labs published a feature article on collaborations between historians and journalists. The piece was inspired by the initiative between the Lepage Center and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
-On January 31, 2020, Inquirer Assistant Managing Editor Charlotte Sutton facilitated a workshop among Villanova faculty and staff on how scholars and journalists can work better together.
-Director Jason Steinhauer was interviewed by Columbia University Journalism / Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) about importance of historical context to contemporary reporting.
Our gratitude to the Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships at Drexel University.