Richard R. John

Professor, School of Journalism

Columbia University

Richard R. John is a historian of communications who specializes in the political economy of communications in the United States. His publications include many essays, two edited books, and two monographs: Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (1995) and Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (2010). 

In December of 2010, John debated law Professor Tim Wu at a Journalism School-sponsored forum on "Big Media: Pro and Con," which aired on C-SPAN2's Book TV. John also appeared on Book TV and before an audience at the New America Foundation to discuss his monograph Network Nation, which won the first Ralph Gomory Book Prize from the Business History Conference and was the 2010 Best Book in Journalism and Mass Communication History, an award bestowed by the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. His book was also the subject of a recent interview conducted by the editors of the online magazine Ubiquity.

John has been a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D. C., and has served as a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. Among the institutions that have sponsored his research are the College of William and Mary, the American Antiquarian Society, and the National Endowment of the Humanities, which awarded him a faculty fellowship in 2008. Spreading the News received several national awards, including the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians and the Herman E. Krooss Prize from the Business History Conference. John is a former president of the Business History Conference, an international professional society dedicated to the study of institutional history.

Between 1981 and 1989, John earned a B.A. in social studies (magna cum laude), a M.A. in history, and a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization, all from Harvard University.