Archive for July, 2015

OU’s Young a winner

Nerissa Young and her SPJ students staged a well-run, high-impact regional conference in Athens, Ohio, in March 2015.

Nerissa Young and her SPJ students staged a well-run, high-impact regional conference in Athens, Ohio, in March 2015.

Region 4 continued to wrack up honors this week, as the SPJ national office released news of members who will be honored at EIJ15 in September.

The latest honoree: Nerissa Young, adviser to the SPJ chapter at Ohio University in Athens, as the David L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award recipient.

The award, launched in 1978, is presented annually to a campus adviser who “has made an exceptional contribution to the campus chapter for which he or she serves.”

In her nomination letter, former OU chapter president Kate Hiller said Young is devoted to SPJ and is always available to help her students. For example, she drove six students to Nashville last year for Excellence in Journalism 2014, so they could participate in the annual convention. The Ohio University SPJ chapter holds the title of National Campus Chapter of the Year for 2014.

“Ms. Young is one of the most dedicated professionals I have ever met,” Hiller said. “She works hard every day to make our chapter, the students in her classes and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism the best it can be. She has been a very involved member of SPJ since 1991, and has led the chapters she has been involved with to win national awards for the organization.”

(Personal note: I’ve known Nerissa a good number of years now. She is endlessly devoted to her students, her institition, SPJ and her family. She is also the ultimate go-to girl. If Nerissa says she’ll get something done, she will — efficiently and expertly. Congrats, friend.)

Otterbein 360 honored

OtterbeinOtterbein 360, the student-run web site at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, is one of five winners of the 2015 SPJ national Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. The award recognizes people or organizations for their contributions to open government.

At Otterbein 360, former editor Anna Schiffbauer and colleagues, working with faculty adviser Hillary Warren, submitted a public records request for police reports of student and non-student criminal cases in 2014. The request was denied on the grounds that “a private university’s police records are not public.” A mandamus action was filed, asking the Ohio Supreme Court to order the release of the documents.

In 2015, the Court ruled that police departments at private universities are public offices and therefore must provide public records.

Hagit Limor, chair of the SPJ Legal Defense Fund (and an investigative TV reporter who also teaches journalism at the University of Cincinnati), said the LDF committee “felt so strongly [about Otterbein 360’s case] we awarded $5,000 toward the legal battle and recommended the Society of Professional Journalists Board of Directors approve an additional $5,000 in LDF funding.”

In a press release from SPJ, Limor said: “Students fight many battles beyond the challenges facing professional journalists but this is one that will benefit all. Private universities now are compelled to provide records previously hidden from public scrutiny. While this case compels the Otterbein University police chief to produce criminal records crucial to student safety, one could see the application of this ruling expanded. The court said it would apply to any entity that exercises a ‘government function.’ ”

Other Sunshine Award winners, all to be recognized at Excellence in Journalism 2015 in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 18-20:

  • Ed Timms and Kevin Krause of the Dallas Morning News, for an investigation into the practices of a non-profit created by local governments.
  • Brad Heath of USA TODAY’s for his investigation into the almost 200,000 fugitives in the United States who were secretly allowed to “escape justice merely by crossing a state border.”
  • Carolyn James — SPJ Freedom of Information chair for New York State and chair of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations at Hofstra University — for her open government advocacy and efforts.

Cincinnati leader honored

Field experience is critical, Tom McKee, a reporter with WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, tells students at the Region 4 conference in Athens, Ohio, in March.

Field experience is critical, Tom McKee, a reporter with WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, tells students at the Region 4 conference in Athens, Ohio, in March.

Tom McKee, president of the Cincinnati chapter of SPJ, is one of two winners of the annual Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award for outstanding contributions to their SPJ chapters and regions.

Under McKee’s leadership, the Cincinnati chapter has developed and carried out a variety of programs in addition to continuing its annual sponsorship and selection of members of the Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame. The chapter was named the best small pro chapter last year. Long-time Cincinnati SPJers Emil Dansker nominated McKee for the latest honor.

Julie Asher, president of the Washington, D.C., pro chapter, is this year’s other Dubin winner. Asher is national editor at the Catholic News Service, an international daily religion news service for Catholic and other publications around the world.

Asher and McKee will be recognized at Excellence in Journalism 2015 Sept 18-20 in Orlando, Fla.

The Howard Dubin Award is given to no more than two members each year — one from a chapter of 75 or more members and one from less than 75 members. It is named for long-time SPJ member Howard Dubin of the Chicago Headline Club.



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