Indiana University

Indiana University Journalism

Owen V. JohnsonOwen V. Johnson

Associate Professor
Spring Semester 2014: M, 2:30-4 p.m. or by appointment

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Specialist on Central and East European media history, and on specialized topics in U.S. journalism history, including World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, and the historical development of the college press.


Co-author of Eastern European Journalism: Past, Present and Future (1999). Has also published Slovakia 1918-1938: Education and the Making of a Nation and numerous articles in Journalism Quarterly, Journalism History, Journalism Educator, Studies on East European Social History, and other books and journals, on mass media and sociocultural development in the Russian and East European area, as well as articles on journalism history in the United States.


Fulbright Distinguished Chair of East European Studies, U. of Warsaw, 2009-10; Recipient of numerous grants, including ACLS, IREX and National Council on Soviet and East European Research; Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists) Excellence in Journalism Award, Washington State; Who's Who in America.

Teaching and research areas

History (especially Ernie Pyle) and international communications (especially in Central and East European area).

Academic organizations

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (Head, History Division, 1985-86); American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Slovak Studies Association (president, 1988-90); Czechoslovak History Conference, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians; Journalism History, corresponding editor, 1985-2000; Kosmas, editorial board, 1996-present; Medijska istraživanja: Znanstveno-stručni časopis za novinarstvo i medije/ Media Research: Croatian Journal for Journalism and the Media, international editorial board, 2002-present; Otázky žurnalistiky (Slovak mass media research journal), editorial board, 2007-present; Global Media Journal--Slovak edition, 2012-present

Past academic positions

Director of Russian and East European Institute, Indiana University, 1991-95; Director of Graduate Studies, Indiana University School of Journalism, 1990-91; Acting Director, Indiana University Polish Studies Center, 1989-90 and 2004-05; Assistant Professor, School of Journalism, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 1979-80.

Professional positions

Part-time General Assignment Reporter and Sports Editor, Pullman Herald (Wash.), 1961-67; worked part-time at WUOM/WVGR (Ann Arbor-Grand Rapids, Mich.), 1969-77. Freelance journalism work has appeared inter alia in the Christian Science Monitor and on NPR's "All Things Considered." Since January 2004 has been writing occasionally for "The Slovak Spectator," an English-language weekly published in Bratislava, Slovakia; and serving from time to time as a host for Profiles on WFIU, Bloomington.

Research summary

Professor Johnson, a historian, focuses his research primarily on two areas. One is the sociocultural roles and functions of journalism in Central and East European societies. The other is selected topics in U.S. journalism history. Johnson's current research projects include a history of Russian journalists; a compilation of the letters of World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle into a book; and a history of the Indiana Daily Student, to be published in 2017 to commemorate the paper's sesquicentennial.
  • “Entertaining the People, Serving the Elites: Slovak Mass Media Since 1989,” in Media Transformations in the Post-Communist World: Eastern Europe’s Tortured Path to Change, edited by Peter Gross and Karol Jakubowicz (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2013), pp. 149-65
  • “Not Telling the Truth: Censorship in Communist Slovakia in the 1950s,” in Miloslav Rechcígl, ed., Czech and Slovak Culture in International and Global Context (České Budějovice, Czech Republic: Halama, 2008), pp. 102-08
  • ”Begetting and Remembering: Creating a Slovak Collective Memory in the Post-Communist World,” in Michal Kopeček, ed., Past in the Making: Recent History Revisions and Historical Revisionism in Central Europe After 1989 (Budapest and New York: Central European Press, 2008), pp. 125-39
  • “Shadows in the Searchlight: An Introduction to American Media Coverage of Czechoslovakia,” in Gregory C. Ference, ed., The Portrayal of Czechoslovakia in the American Print Media (Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 2006), pp. 1-19
  • “Media Legislation and Media Policy in Slovakia: EU Accession and the Second Wave of Reform,” Medijska istraživanja: Znanstveno-stručni časopis za novinarstvo i medije/ Media Research: Croatian Journal for Journalism and the Media 11:2 (2005) (with Andrej Školkay), pp. 67-79
  • “Transition Problems of Mass Media in Post-Communist Countries,” in Janusz Adamowski and Marek Jablonowski, eds., The Role of Local and Regional Media in the Democratization of the Eastern and Central European Societies/Rol’ mestnykh i regional’nykh sredstv massovoi informatsii v demokratizatsii obshchestv Vostochnoi i TSentral’noi Evropy (Warsaw: Oficyna Wydawnicza ASPRA-JR, 2001), pp. 31-36
  • Owen V. Johnson, "Failing Democracy: Journalists, the Mass Media, and the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia," in Michael Kraus and Allison K. Stanger, ed., Irreconcilable Differences? Explaining Czechoslovakia's Dissolution (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000). This article argues that the media role in the breakup of Czechoslovakia was minimal in the last years before the country split, an outcome that preserved the political control of the elite (including journalists) and thus was welcomed by them. The media had lost the trust of readers and viewers in the last two decades of communist rule and were not able to regain it in the early post-communist years.
  • Jerome Aumente, Peter Gross, Ray Hiebert, Owen V. Johnson and R. Dean Mills, Eastern European Journalism Before, During and After Communism (Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, in press). Johnson was the primary author of Chapter 1 (pp. 5-40) "The Roots of Journalism in Central and Eastern Europe." In this article he provides a broad historical background for the media, noting the impact of national, social, political and economic change.
  • Owen V. Johnson, "The Media and Democracy in Eastern Europe," in Patrick O'Neil, ed., Communicating Democracy: The Media and Political Transition (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1998), pp. 103-24. This chapter examines changes in post-communist Eastern Europe brought about by the establishment of mass media as businesses, leaders who are popularly elected, and uncertainty about the role of the public in policy making.
  • Wei Wu, David H. Weaver, and Owen V. Johnson, "Professional Roles of Russian and U.S. Journalists: A Comparative Study," Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 73:3 (Autumn 1996), pp. 534-48. This article is the first published result of a survey that is the backbone of Johnson's continuing study of "The Russian Journalist."
  • Owen V. Johnson, "Mass Media and the Velvet Revolution," in Jeremy Popkin, ed., Media and Revolution: Comparative Perspectives (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995), pp. 220-31
  • Owen V. Johnson, "The Press of Change: Mass Communications in Late Communist and Post-Communist Societies," in Sabrina P. Ramet, ed., Adaptation and Transformation in Communist and Post-Communist Systems (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992), pp. 209-39
  • Owen V. Johnson, "Where is their Homeland? News About the Czechs and their Lands in the U.S. Media, 1848- 1914," in Grossbritannien, die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika und die böhmischen Länder 1848-1938 (Great Britain, the USA, and the Bohemian Lands), ed. Eva Schmidt-Hartmann and Stanley B. Winters (Munich: Collegium Carolinum, 1991), pp. 59-74
  • Summer E. Stevens and Owen V. Johnson, "From Black Politics to Black Community: Harry C. Smith and the Cleveland Gazette in the Late Nineteenth Century," Journalism Quarterly 67:4 (Winter 1990), pp. 1090-1102
  • Owen V. Johnson, "Newspapers and Nation-building: The Slovak Press in Pre-1918 Slovakia," in Hans Lemberg et al, eds., Bildungsgeschichte, Bevölkerungsgeschichte, Gesellschaftsgeschichte in den Böhmischen Ländern und Europa (Vienna: Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, 1988), pp. 160-78
  • Owen V. Johnson, "Unbridled Freedom: Czech Press and Politics, 1918-1938," Journalism History 13:3-4 (Autumn-Winter 1986), pp. 96-103
  • Teresa C. Klassen and Owen V. Johnson, "The Sharpening of The Blade: A Black Newspaper and Black Consciousness," Journalism Quarterly 63:2 (Summer 1986), pp. 298-304
  • Owen V. Johnson, Slovakia 1918-1938: Education and the Making of a Nation (New York: Columbia University Press/East European Monographs, 1985)
Longest serving member of active faculty in the School of Journalism, having come here in 1980. He is the 3rd longest serving faculty member in the history of the School.