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Professor garners honorable mention in doctoral dissertation competition

New Mexico State University professor of broadcast journalism, Roger Mellen, received an honorable mention for his paper submitted to the American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA) for the 2008 Margaret A. Blanchard Doctoral Dissertation Prize.

His dissertation, "A Culture of Dissidence: The Emergence of Liberty of the Press in Pre-Revolutionary Virginia" is a study intended to broaden the understanding of the origins of the First Amendment right of freedom of the press. Mellen examines popular prints from the colonies of Virginia and Maryland prior to the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Through his research, Mellen studied the evolution from radical English politics, examined local struggles between printer and governor, and examined the results of spreading print culture, education and literacy.

"I feel very honored to have received this award," Mellen said. "The research done by the winner and the other recipients was extremely impressive, and I felt very honored to be on a panel with them."

Annual awards go to the best doctoral dissertation on media history. Mellen was one of three honorable mentions, and one grand prize winner was honored in early October at the AJHA annual convention in Seattle, Wash. The awards are named in honor of the late professor Margaret A. Blanchard of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was a mentor to generations of doctoral students of journalism history.

Prior to becoming an NMSU faculty member in fall 2008, Mellen spent 20 years working for public and local broadcast television and radio stations including affiliates of PBS, ABC, CBS and NBC. He holds a doctorate from George Mason University where he studied history and concentrated his research efforts on first amendment rights to a free press. In addition to teaching journalism courses, he works with students who produce News22 for NMSU's local broadcast station, KRWG-TV.