Partially supported by a NULab Seedling Grant.
For nearly 20 years, Nackey Scripps Loeb served as publisher of the Manchester (NH) Union Leader, a role that gave her tremendous clout in national politics. New Hampshire is home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, and Loeb’s editorials helped shape the conversation about the nominees every four years. Initial research suggests that Loeb wrote more than 1,000 editorials during her tenure, but her work has received little attention from media historians.
This project aggregated, digitized, and analyzed all of Loeb’s editorials, using both qualitative and quantitative methods to answer these questions: How did Loeb’s writing habits change in the months before a presidential primary? What topics did she write about the most? How and when did her words travel beyond the borders of New Hampshire? (The photo below shows one example of how the national and international media amplified her voice.) Our work progressed quickly, thanks to a seed grant from NULab to support two graduate research assistants. We presented a paper related to this project at two academic conferences and, in 2018, used our findings to help craft a successful book proposal for a biography of Loeb.
That book, Political Godmother: Nackey Scripps Loeb and the Newspaper the Shook the Republican Party, debuted in June 2020 and has received favorable attention.
Meg Heckman, Faculty, Journalism
Publications and Presentations
Meg Heckman. Political Godmother: Nackey Scripps Loeb and the Newspaper That Shook the Republican Party. Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press, June 2020. https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/potomac-books/9781640121935/