SoDa Symposium: “Newspapers and the Lynching Story: Discoveries, Distortions, and Erasure, 1789-1963”

Event Start Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2023 - 12:00 pm

Event End Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2023 - 1:00 pm

Location: Virtual / Zoom

UMD students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—join us for the next SoDa Symposium, which will highlight recipients of the SoDa Seed Grant Award!


Our project examines media coverage of lynching from 1789 to the current era. Researchers examined metadata of 60,000 pages of news coverage in the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America database and conducted a computational text analysis of a stratified sample. We find that some news reports sought to normalize this violence by describing members of lynch mobs as citizens seeking to pursue justice. A similar examination of Black press coverage showed divergent priorities in news narratives. Our sample of 714 Black newspaper articles tended to emphasize civil society narratives such as the legal system whereas descriptions of violence had greater prominence in a sample of 1,387 mainstream newspaper articles.


Rob Wells is an associate professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, where he teaches reporting and data journalism. Between 2016-2021, Wells taught at the School of Journalism and Strategic Media at the University of Arkansas, where he was associate professor and led the graduate program. He is the author of The Insider: How the Kiplinger Newsletter Bridged Washington and Wall Street (University of Massachusetts Press, 2022). The Insider won the Ray Hiebert History of Journalism Endowed Award, University of Maryland, Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2023. He also is the author of The Enforcers: How Little Known Trade Reporters Exposed the Keating Five and Advanced Business Journalism (University of Illinois Press, 2019), which is an extension of his doctoral research which examines investigative business journalism and the influence of the trade press. In 2016, he earned a doctorate in Journalism Studies at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. In 2013, he earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at St. John’s College in Annapolis; he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from California State University, Sacramento. Prior to his academic career, Wells was Bureau Chief of Dow Jones Newswires in Washington, D.C. and then Deputy Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal Washington bureau; he has also reported for Bloomberg News, The Associated Press and newspapers in California.

Tyriana Evans is currently a PhD history student at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on the history of the Black Press and news coverage of social protest. Evans has a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from The George Washington University and an M.A. in Pan African Studies from the Syracuse University. She has previously worked in political broadcast journalism and public relations.

Mohamed Salama, a native of Egypt, has gained extensive journalistic experience, reporting for numerous publications, including al-Monitor, the Globe Post, BBC Arabic, and Xinhua News Agency. Salama is a Ph.D. student in Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland. He is also participating in a significant big data research project, analyzing media coverage of lynchings in the U.S. A holder of a master’s degree from American University-Cairo, Salama was a Fulbright research fellow and instructor at the University of Kentucky. Additionally, he is a regular Arab voice for Youth IGF content production and serves as the host for Youth IGF media events.

Nicholas Creary, will be our industry expert guest speaker. He has served as the vice president of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project; chair of the Reconciliation and Justice Committee of the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and institutional justice, equity, diversity and inclusion officer of Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

More on SoDa Seed Grants:

The projects under this initiative may address any societal challenge that affects a large number of people, including but not limited to health, public safety, justice, race, gender, education, employment, transit, and political representation.  The goal of these seed grants is to encourage faculty to develop collaborative projects that stimulate the advancement of new ideas that can build the university’s expertise toward a national reputation in the broad area of social data science. The projects blend the development or use of innovative data science methods or new measurements, the advancement of scholarship within or across disciplines, and progress in addressing a societal challenge.

Additional Information:

Please contact at least one week prior to the event to request disability accommodations. In all situations, a good faith effort (up until the time of the event) will be made to provide accommodations.


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