We are the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, a national organization that has been improving and protecting journalism since 1909. SPJ is known for its Code of Ethics, which was recently updated for the first time since 1996, to bring it in line with the needs of a rapidly changing industry. Please look at the code at spj.org. You will find that it is more than an ethical guide; it offers ways to better inform the public by using the web to enhance traditional media and improve our own transparency.

We are an active chapter. In addition to workshops and other public events, our work includes organizing an annual contest rewarding excellence in journalism; mentoring; assistance with the reporters’ shield law; and advocacy for the First Amendment, open public records and open public archives. If you have ideas for public programs and would like to join us to make them a reality, email our president, John Ensslin, at johnensslin@gmail.com.

NJ-SPJ Board of Directors

President: John Ensslin
Vice president: Miriam Ascarelli
Secretary: Emily Kratzer
Treasurer: Elizabeth Oguss
Immediate Past President: Miriam Ascarelli
Members-at-large:  Guy Baehr, Robert Bugai, Susan Keith, David Levitt, Ron Miskoff,  Jane Primerano, Barbara Reed, Claire Regan, Bob Schapiro

Questions or comments about the website? Contact Miriam Ascarelli at newjerseyspj.feedback@gmail.com

Send an e-mail to NJ-SPJ President John Ensslin: johnensslin@gmail.com

Here is an on-going list of our activities since 2013:

  • July 2017: Board retreat to discuss plans for the upcoming year
  • June 2017: annual Excellence in Journalism Awards brunch; Bruce Rosen, who represented Trentonian reporter Isaac Avilucea in his First Amendment case was our keynote speaker; Doug Doyle, news director of WBGO, Newark’s public radio station, was master of ceremonies.
  • April 2017: Organized Skills Fest, a day-long series of presentations by working journalists focused on teaching tech skills; held at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
  • April 2017: Collaborated with the NJ chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and the Montclair State chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America to organize annual “Meet the Media Day” at Montclair State University. Event featured a panel discussion with a freelance journalist as well as reporters from The Star-Ledger/NJ.com, The New York Times, The Montclair Local, NJTV; North Jersey.com, and New Brunswick Today.
  • April 2017: SPJ Region 1 conference in NYC
  • April 2017:  Isaac Avilucea wins court battle with state Attorney General’s Office over prior restraint. NJ-SPJ monitored the case closely and provided periodic updates in our e-newsletter.
  • Feb. 2017: Organized digital training workshop with Google News Lab at Brookdale Community College
  • Jan. 2017: Organized strategy meeting at the New Jersey Historical Society in Newark to discuss the Isaac Avilucea case and other First Amendment concerns as well as journalism-related legislative issues. The meeting drew a mix of 30+ people, comprised of NJ-SPJ members as well as First Amendment and government transparency advocates, and leaders from state-wide journalism organizations.
  • Jan. 2017: NJ-SPJ launches annual Excellence in Journalism contest
  • December 2016: First Amendment advocacy on behalf of reporter Isaac Avilucea of The Trentonian and Charlie Kratovil of New Brunswick Today; mounted a vigorous campaign to oppose New Jersey bill that would have eliminated the requirement that legal ads run in newspapers.
  • October 2016: Arranged for discounts for NJ-SPJ members seeking to attend Sustain Local, a national conference organized by the Center for Cooperative Journalism at Montclair State.
  • August 2016: Started NJ Registry of Historic Places in Journalism: first two sites are the Union Hotel and Historic Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, and the Red Bank home of T. Thomas Fortune (1856-1928), one of the most prominent African-American journalists of his day.
  • June 2016: NJTV chief political correspondent Michael Aaron hosted our annual Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony
  • April 2016: More than 100 students attended a “Meet the Press” event that we co-sponsored with the Public Relations Society of America at Rutgers University’s Piscataway’s campus.
  • Winter 2016: our annual Excellence in Journalism contest
  • February 2016: We collaborated with the New Jersey Press Association and the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State to present a free forum, “What’s New in NJ Media Law?” at Rutgers Law School in Newark.
  • November 2015: We organized a podcasting workshop at NJIT in Newark.
  • October 2015: Some 20 NJ SPJ members toured  NJTV, New Jersey’s public television station.
  • June 2015: NJTV anchor Mary Alice Williams hosted our annual Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony
  • April 2015: We combined our monthly meeting with a tour of WBGO-FM in Newark
  • Winter 2015: annual Excellence in Journalism Contest
  • February 2015: Courage Under Fire, a panel discussion about free speech at home and abroad. We focused on the coverage of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons as well as the case of Andrew Flinchbaugh, a news photographer for the Lacey Reporter in Ocean County who was arrested (and later released) for refusing to turn over his camera to police. The event was held at the NJ Historical Society in Newark.
  • Nov. 2014: How the Public Got that Story: Why Some Stories Stick, and Some Don’t, a panel discussion at the Montclair Public Library with reporters from The New York Times, WNYC, The Record, The Star-Ledger, NJTV, Fox News and others. Some 100 people attended.
  • Oct. 2014: In Jersey City, Irish journalist Ed Moloney spoke on The Troubles in Northern Ireland as News and History. In New Brunswick, our members met with the busy SPJ student chapter at Rutgers.
  • July 2014: Our members got a private tour of the NJ Historical Society in Newark, hosted by Executive Director Steve Tettamanti.
  • June 2014: The best reporters in New Jersey, chosen by their peers, spoke at our annual Awards Dinner at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center at Montclair State University.
  • May 2014: Weekly newspapers and hyper-local websites were the focus, as editors, reporters and the public mixed at our forum.
  • April 2014: We co-sponsored the Rutgers-Newark conference on Media & Democratic Governance, with panels throughout the day.
  • Winter 2014: Many of you participated in our Excellence in Journalism awards competition, as both entrant and judges.
  • November 2013: We examined Who’s a Journalist Now? with speakers including author Jonathan Alter, State Senate Majority leader Loretta Weinberg and many others. 110-journalists and scholars attended.

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