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A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Fokerts wins lifetime achievement award from AJHA

The American Journalism Historians Association has selected Jean Folkerts, visiting professor and scholar at the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kansas State University, as the 2016 Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History recipient.

As AJHA’s highest honor, the Kobre Award recognizes individuals with an exemplary record of sustained achievement in journalism history through research, teaching and professional activities. It is named in honor of the late Sidney Kobre, a journalist, professor and author.

David Nord, professor emeritus of journalism at Indiana University, praised Folkerts for her contributions to the field of journalism history.

"Her book Voices of A Nation: A History of Mass Media in the United States, on which she is lead author, has been perhaps the most popular and substantial textbook in the field for twenty-five years," Nord said. "Thousands of students have learned the history of American journalism from it."

Folkerts earned her undergraduate degree in journalism with concentrations in English and sociology from Kansas State University. She continued her education and earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Kansas State University, a master’s of philosophy degree in American studies from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Kansas.

Her academic appointments included serving as the associate vice president at George Washington University and dean of the schools of journalism at George Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Further, she has been the editor of Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly and has served on the editorial boards of Journalism History and Journalism Monographs.

Although she boasts an impressive vita, including work as a war correspondent, assistant press secretary, editor, author, educator and administrator, Folkerts is perhaps best known for her genuine concern for the well-being of her students. Former student Carolyn Edy, now assistant professor of journalism at Appalachian State University, remembers how Folkerts was genuine and approachable.

"She is generous with her time, knowledge and experience," she said. "She expects the best of herself and of everyone else, and she also has a knack for realizing these expectations."

Likewise, Folkerts appreciates her students for inspiring her to be a good teacher.

"I want to thank my students from across the years…whose questions stimulated new research ideas," Folkerts said. "Their accomplishments continue to motivate me."

Folkerts, who feels honored to win this award, will receive the Kobre Award at AJHA’s annual convention, Oct. 6-8, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"I commend the extraordinary efforts of AJHA to enhance journalism history teaching and research," she stated. "I know the work of this group will continue to inspire generations of journalism history teachers and scholars."

Founded in 1981, the American Journalism Historians Association seeks to advance education and research in mass communication history. Members work to raise historical standards and ensure that all scholars and students recognize the vast importance of media history and apply this knowledge to the advancement of society. For more information on AJHA, visit ajhaonline.org.