Launch an SPJ College Campus Chapter Today

Thanks to the idea from Katina Paron out of the Deadline Club, we put together a workshop for student and faculty leaders on the process of starting or relaunching an SPJ campus chapter.

Watch the YouTube to follow along and watch if you missed the event …

William Paterson University professor, Nicholas Hirshon, named outstanding campus adviser for second time

From a release by SPJ …

The Society of Professional Journalists has named Nicholas Hirshon as the recipient of the David L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award for a second time. Hirshon is a journalism professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey, where he also advises and co-founded the SPJ student chapter.

The Eshelman Award is presented annually to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the campus chapter for which he or she serves as SPJ adviser.

In 2020, the chapter hosted nine ‘Reality Check’ events, which Hirshon moderated, each one focusing on a different topic in journalism. The chapter had many guests who gave advice about items such as sports reporting, reporting during the pandemic, balancing creative writing and journalism, truth in journalism and more.


NJ SPJ’s Steve Lubetkin Honored by SPJ with Howard S. Dubin Award

The following is from a release from the Society of Professional Journalists …

SPJ selected Steve Lubetkin as a recipient of the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award for his contributions to New Jersey SPJ.

When the New Jersey Press Association announced it would no longer give press credentials to non-members, it stranded hundreds of journalists. Seeking help, the New Jersey Pro Chapter (NJ-SPJ) reached out to Steve Lubetkin, who had the skills to make the chapter’s press card program a huge success. He worked on the site almost daily, personally contacting members and making corrections to the database and PayPal.

“He is personally responsible for helping hundreds of journalists continue to do their jobs with minimal hassle,” New Jersey Pro Chapter President Bob Schapiro said.

When the need arose, Lubetkin assumed the duties of the chapter’s secretary. He sent out announcements of events, facilitated communication among members and ran the website. Later, he presented the board with several options of software it could purchase to eliminate problems the chapter was experiencing. Once approved, Lubetkin installed the new modules, while personally migrating the information of over 200 members. The board then voted to expand its membership, making him a trustee. A few months after that, the nominating committee selected him as the new secretary. Moving beyond the press cards, he unveiled the new website, with ongoing news feeds.

“Steve put out a lot of fires and gave people many opportunities,” Schapiro said. “He truly deserves an award.”

He was honored virtually during EIJ 2021 in September.

Region 1 Chapters Take Home Top Honors

The SPJ chapters in New Jersey and New England were recognized nationally for their efforts in advocacy and education over the last year.

New Jersey was named as a finalist for SPJ National Large Chapter of the Year and won an SPJ Circle of Excellence Award for FOI/First Amendment work.

New England Pro was recognized with a Circle of Excellent Award for their work in diversity.

Read more about other winners from around the country.

Thanks for the Support, Let’s Keep Pushing Forward

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in this year’s election for SPJ Region 1 Coordinator.

The election was uncontested, but I still appreciate the support of everyone who voted and expressed their interest in working together.

Congrats to all other regional coordinators and SPJ national winners. Everyone has the best interest for SPJ’s continued growth and evolution.

As laid out in a previous blog post, we had a productive chat during the Region 1 meeting during EIJ. We have a working plan that will set us up for success in the coming months.


Recap from SPJ Region 1 Meeting During EIJ 2021

About 20 SPJ members from Region 1 gathered virtually for this year’s annual meeting.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and covered a range of topics related to the region.

Regional Conference Schedule: The Press Club of Long Island will host the 2022 Region 1 conference at Hofstra University in March. Connecticut Pro will host 2023 at Roger Williams University. The Deadline Club will host in 2025 to coincide with the organization’s 100th anniversary. That leaves 2024 open, but there was a suggestion to return to Pennsylvania in some capacity, perhaps in the Scranton/Wilkes Barre area. This was not discussed with the new Keystone Chapter board, however, so it’s a conversation to be had soon and not a rush as we have some time to plan and coordinate.

Developing more campus chapters: It’s been a goal of SPJ national and a goal in our region since I was appointed in January to add more campus chapters. I have made contact with more than a dozen schools in the northeast that are interested in either starting from scratch or bringing a chapter back to their campus. I’ll follow up this fall with more info on those, but there was a good discussion about how to gather some SPJ swag, create a marketing deck to use during campus discussions and leverage alumni from those schools in our SPJ network to build connections. We have a busy school year ahead!

More regional discussions: I expressed to the group a desire to meet every few months as a region because it’s evident we’re stronger together. Look out for an invite to something later this year!

Summer journalism institute: A number of passionate SPJ leaders have been meeting over the last few months to develop a possible summer journalism institute for summer 2022. More to come on this as we’ll have another meeting this fall. We hope to attract high school students to a campus in our region for a few days (or less) and bring in instructors to teach the fundamentals and get the students creating content.

Regional Fund and Chapter Contributions: As always, we ask that local pro chapters in Region 1 contribute to the regional fund, which can help support chapter initiatives. Please reach out to SPJ Region 1 Treasurer Bill Bleyer for more information at



Vote for Vaccaro in SPJ Region 1 Coordinator Election

I’m running for re-election for the SPJ Region 1 Coordinator position.

Learn more about me on SPJ Election Central!

SPJ Bio Notes

*Vaccaro has been the SPJ Region 1 Coordinator since January 2021, and served as the Assistant Region 1 Coordinator from 2015-2020.

*Additionally he was the SPJ Region 1 Mark of Excellence Chair from 2015-2020.

*He has been a board member for the Press Club of Long Island (PCLI) since 2010 and served as President of PCLI from 2014-2018.

*He has served as the awards chair for PCLI since 2010, helped found the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame in 2014 and founded PCLI’s historic studies committee in 2017 to put historic markers at locations of historical journalism significance.

*He was also co-chair of three Region 1 Conferences in the last seven years.

*As president of PCLI, the chapter was recognized as National Chapter of the Year in 2016, and runner-up in 2014 and 2015, as well as Circle of Excellence Award winners for freedom of information in 2014 and 2017 and college outreach in 2015.

*In 2014 he resurrected the student chapter of SPJ at Hofstra University and has served as advisor since. 

Based on some questions that SPJ asked as part of the meet the candidate night and emails …

Which of the four statements of SPJ’s strategic plan is most important to you and why?

“We are producers of journalism’s future.” I’m focused every day on getting the current and future generation of journalists ready for what’s next. As a media executive, professor and SPJ regional coordinator, I work hard to help journalists adapt and grow. It’s vital to create pathways of journalism education for all levels of storytellers, novice and experienced. Without a sustainable future for journalism that mixes a blend of education about innovation we’ll never grow as an industry. I believe in SPJ’s ability to educate and create professional development opportunities in newsrooms, on college campuses and through multi platform technology to inspire and educate. It’s all still very much a blank canvas, but with the right partnerships, curriculum and collaboration, producing journalism’s future is a very real and powerful part of the overall strategic plan both nationally and regionally. Always focus on growing today to thrive tomorrow and never stop.”

How would you help grow SPJ membership?

“More development of college chapters. There are so many colleges and universities with no SPJ footprint and no understanding on how to develop a chapter. This is an untapped area still in many regions and especially in Region 1. Over the last eight months I’ve developed the contacts at more than one dozen schools in the northeast with hopes of helping them add chapters one-by-one over the next year. We are also in talks to develop an SPJ High School Summer Journalism Institute for Summer 2022 and reaching an even younger audience of future stars and SPJ members. Let’s do the work today to grow the leaders of tomorrow.”

Share one last message about your candidacy to the members.

“In less than a year I’ve made an immediate impact in the regional coordinator role and I’m just getting started. I’ve stabilized trust, communication and leadership in Region 1, coordinated with national, raised the promotion and marketing of our pro and student chapters and laid the groundwork and vision for more immediate and long term change in the Northeast. I’m looking to provide consistency in the region, while evolving SPJ on a grassroots level. The first eight months have been successful, so let’s expand on that for another year-plus. I believe in supporting organizations that are bigger than me. I find value in collaborating with other SPJ members around the country to share ideas and help advocate for journalists and journalism collectively. To do that locally was a joy, to do that regionally is a privilege and to do that as part of a national team of leaders has been empowering. Onwards.”

Running for SPJ Region 1 Coordinator

Since I was appointed Region 1 Coordinator mid-term, I have to officially run for the final year of the two-year two. My hat is in the ring and I have announced my candidacy for the role.

SPJ had us put together a bio page of info about ourselves, what we have achieved and where we’d like to go … read some below, or click here for the full write-up.

In less than a year I’ve made an immediate impact in the role and I’m just getting started. I’ve stabilized trust, communication and leadership in Region 1, have coordinated with national, raised the promotion and marketing of our pro and student chapters and laid the groundwork and vision for more immediate and long term change in the Northeast. I’m looking to provide consistency in the region, while evolving SPJ on a grassroots level. The first six months have been successful, so let’s expand on that for another year-plus.

Within the first month in the position I had one-on-one conversations with all Region 1 pro chapter leaders and exchanged emails with campus advisors. From these conversations I developed a foundation of goals – I call the three legs to our R1 stool – GROWTH, ADVOCACY and COMMUNICATION.

Our goals with growth have been to develop new chapters, grow regional membership and expand our SPJ feeder system by launching new campus chapters. With advocacy, our goal is to open lines of communication with local officials and be a voice for the journalists and media organizations in our region. On communication, simply more of it between chapters, leaders and SPJ national.

In the last six months, I oversaw one of the more robust regional conferences in the country. It was multiple days with more than a dozen speakers and half a dozen panels. Guided the Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards with a new awards chair. Promoted a student coordinator for the region. Set up bi-weekly email check-ins with all pro leaders and campus advisors, using the communication points to promote their events between each other and flag for SPJ national promotion and coverage. Relaunched the SPJ Region 1 blog, launched an SPJ mailchimp list for email communication with Region 1 members, worked with Stony Brook University to get its student chapter reinstated for fall 2021 and have already begun planning the 2022 SPJ Region 1 Conference on Long Island, as well as a possible 2022 SPJ Region 1 Summer Journalism Institute for high school students. I also developed a college chapter resource guide to inspire student leaders with ideas for new events and opportunities on their respective campuses.

Advocated the New York State Senate on Shield Laws, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on vaccinations for journalists and the Connecticut Senate on Bill 760, which aims to prohibit use of footage from accidents.

Thanks in advance for your support in the election in September!

Event: Muckraking Tour of NYC Journalism History and Outdoor Happy Hour/Pub Crawl

Discover the history of New York City journalism you never knew with the Deadline Club’s upcoming first-ever walking tour, followed by an outdoor happy hour at storied downtown pubs in lower Manhattan.

You’ll walk the once blood-soaked, ink-stained sites of Gotham’s journalistic past on Juneteenth, traveling in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass, Nelly Bly and Alexander Hamilton, among many others.

Led by licensed guide Chris Barron, the tour will be held Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 3 p.m., then you’ll amble over to an outdoor glass-lifting happy hour.

Tickets are $15 for Deadline Club members and $25 for non-members. Space is limited and tour reservations are required.

Please RSVP here. More details provided to registrants.

Three from Region 1 Selected for SPJ Student Leadership Institute

The Society of Professional Journalists is hosting a learning laboratory designed to help collegiate student journalists build their skills and confidence for leading and contributing to a team.

The Student Leadership Institute will arm participants with information to understand and apply the SPJ Code of Ethics and make even the best student members of SPJ more credible, ethical and values-based leaders.

Twenty-four student journalists have been selected to take part in the weekend institute to be held July 16-18 at Jameson Camp in Indianapolis. The SLI was created with the support of the Scripps Howard Foundation. Participants were chosen by a committee of journalism educators and professional journalists.

Congratulations to all students attending, but especially our Region 1 student members:

Anne Bennett, from Emerson College in Massachusetts, an intern with DigBoston and Urban Media Arts (Malden Access Television) and a past political correspondent for Good Morning Emerson;

Mackenzie Hawkins, from Yale University in Connecticut, the editor-in-chief and president of the Yale Daily News, and helps run an after-school journalism program for public high school students in New Haven;

Tino Pattigno, from Hofstra University in New York, an SPJ Region 1 student representative and radio broadcast producer for 88.7 FM WRHU Diversity in Sports Special


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ