Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication and Journalism



Committee Chair

David R. Davies

Committee Chair Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 2

Vanessa Murphree

Committee Member 2 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 3

Christopher P. Campbell

Committee Member 3 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 4

Cheryl D. Jenkins

Committee Member 4 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 5

Fei Xue

Committee Member 5 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


This dissertation explores the evolution of domestic military base newspapers from 1941-1981, a timeframe that encapsulates the Second World War, Korean War, and Vietnam War, as well as interwar and postwar years. While called “newspapers,” the United States military designed these publications to be a hybrid of traditional news and public relations. This dissertation focuses on three primary aspects of these newspapers: the evolution of the format, style, and function of these papers; the messages editors and writers crafted for and about the “common” soldier and American; and the messages for and about members of the non-majority group.

Sometimes printed on private presses with ad revenue generated by civilian newspaper ad sellers, these papers sometimes marked a unique marriage between the military and traditional media outlets. However, the local presses had no control over content. That privilege went to each base’s commanding officer. Despite the wide swath of people with control over content, these papers looked the same, and in some cases carried shared stories from various government-run “news” agencies. On their pages could be found both news of the day and identity building stories and editorials, all of which conspired to inform and to a greater or lesser degree nudge readers to conclusions of what the creators of the papers thought it meant to be an American, a soldier, or the member of a racial or gender minority. Though tasked with functioning as both a journalistic and public relations vessel, these publications were inconsistent as purveyors of both news and propaganda. However, each provides a wealth of knowledge about the development of the American identity, and dominant concepts of majority and minority, as well as the integration of public relations and journalism into the military in the 20th Century.