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News release: Home of crusading journalist named national historic site in journalism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Miriam Ascarelli, president of the NJ chapter of SPJ, 862-576-1256 or newjerseyspj.feedback@gmail.com.

Gilda Rogers, vice president, T. Thomas Fortune Foundation, 732-383-5483

Red Bank home of crusading black journalist T. Thomas Fortune named historic site in journalism by the Society of Professional Journalists

The New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation are pleased to announce that the Red Bank home of T. Thomas Fortune, one of the most influential black journalists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has been named a National Historic Site in Journalism by the Society of Professional Journalists.

“We were so happy to hear this news, and we hope this national designation will help the people at the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation with their invaluable work of resurrecting the legacy of an important black journalist who, sadly, has been largely forgotten,’’ said Miriam Ascarelli, president of the New Jersey’s SPJ chapter. “This is one of those under-reported stories that needs to be told.”

Fortune was co-owner and editor of The New York Age, one of the leading black newspapers of his day. He used his newspaper as a vehicle to speak out against lynching, black disenfranchisement and other injustices and to nurture important black voices like those of Ida B. Wells and W.E.B DuBois.

“I’m thrilled that finally T. Thomas Fortune is getting the accolades that he so well deserved, including this national honor, said Gilda Rogers, vice president of the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation.

Fortune also had a home in Red Bank, N.J., where he lived from 1901 to 1910. Fortune’s work created one of the most inclusive middle-class communities for immigrants and African-Americans, defying the prevailing era of racial segregation nationwide, said Walter D. Greason, a Monmouth University professor of education and the president of the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation.

“Fortune’s vision of a multi-racial democracy inspired thousands of people around the United States in the creation and the expansion of towns like Red Bank between 1881 and 1920,’’ Greason said. “Before the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, his words laid the foundation for the world we know today.”

Over the years, Fortune’s Red Bank home – which he called Maple Hall – gradually fell into disrepair and was in danger of being torn down.

Maple Hall was saved from the wrecking ball in 2016, thanks to the efforts of local activists and developer Roger Mumford, who came up with a plan to restore the house and convert it to a cultural center and build 31 luxury apartments in the style of the home in the back of the property. The restored home, at 94 Drs. James Parker Blvd., re-opened as the T.

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Letter from the president

Greetings SPJers, Miriam here!

I hope you’re having a productive summer. Here at New Jersey SPJ, ’tis the season for reflection as we prepare for a new year following our annual elections.

As the newly elected chapter president, I am honored and eager to follow up on the good work of my predecessor, John Ensslin. My goal for the next year is to continue serving journalism by focusing on key values of our organization: training, community building, and advocacy. The chapter will be discussing our 2019-2020 calendar at our July 21 board meeting. If you are interested in attending – or just want to send along your thoughts about what you think the chapter should be doing – please email me at ascarelli@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at what else is going on:

Volunteers needed for high school journalism camp

Karyn Collins, director of the Hugh N. Boyd Journalism Diversity Workshop at Rutgers University, is looking for volunteer coaches/editors to work with high school students participating in the annual summer program. The camp runs from July 19-28. Karyn writes: “Any and all help would be appreciated’’ but notes she is especially in need for volunteers to help students develop and edit text and video stories on the afternoon of Sunday, July 21 and at various time slots from Tuesday, July 23 to Saturday, July 27.

To find out more about what time slots Karyn needs to fill, email her at kdc13@verizon.net

Three cheers for our Signature Awards Winners!

More than 30 people attended our Signature Awards luncheon at the Maize restaurant in Newark last month to fete the winners of our annual journalism contest. It’s a measure of the quality of the submissions that our colleagues in the Colorado SPJ chapter said it was a difficult contest to judge because so much of the work was so strong.

Click here if you would like to see the list of winners.

Advocacy: New Voices bill, and a link to the

U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Our chapter was proud to join forces with the Student Press Law Center, the Garden State Scholastic Press Association and other advocates who testified before the state Senate Education Committee last month in support of a bill that will beef up press rights for high school and college students in New Jersey.

The bill – part of a state-by-state campaign organized by the Student Press Law Center called New Voices – was unanimously approved by the state Senate committee, paving the way for a vote on the floor of the New Jersey Senate that is expected to take place sometime in September.

To learn more about the New Voices campaign and the New Jersey bill specifically, see this report posted on the Student Press Law Center website.

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Here are our 2019 contest winners!

  

The New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners of its annual NJ SPJ Signature awards competition yesterday at a celebratory lunch at the Maize restaurant in Newark. The contest was judged this year by members of the Colorado Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The judges provided comments on the first-place honorees.

Here are the winners:

Stuart and Beverley Awbrey Award

Since its creation in the 1990s, this award has sought to honor both hard-hitting investigative journalism that is public-spirited as well as more “uplifting” efforts such as creating care packages for soldiers overseas or helping a handicapped child get an education. The Awbrey pays tribute to Beverley Awbrey and her late husband, Stu, who ran The Cranford Chronicle from 1978 to 1988. The Awbreys believed their 100-year-old weekly was more than a livelihood; they saw it as an opportunity to contribute to the civic life of Cranford.

  • First place: Jaimie Winters of the Montclair Local for “Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment.” The judges were impressed with the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment series of stories because they spoke to the community’s need to be involved in such matters that affect their lives. Comprehensive stories about the development plans from start to finish.
  • Second place: Thomas Franklin of TAPinto Newark for “Despite Newark’s Sanctuary City Status, Undocumented City Resident Turned Over to ICE.”
  • Third place: Al Sullivan of The Hudson Reporter for stories outlining various conflicts related to immigration issues in Hudson County.

Tim O’Brien Award for Best Use of Public Records:

The award honors journalists specifically for investigative work based on public records requests. This award pays tribute to Tim O’Brien, whose investigative reporting, first at The Star-Ledger and later at The New Jersey Law Journal, exemplified the qualities of courage, thoroughness, integrity, persistence and quiet idealism that we seek to honor.

  • First place: Audrey Quinn of New York Public Radio for “For New Jersey Jails, Suicides and Overdoses, but Little Oversight.” The judges said Quinn’s series on jail deaths in New Jersey is a testament to the power of public records in informing the public about what is happening in governmental institutions, including jails. A comprehensive, well-done series.
  • Second place: Carla Astudillo, Craig McCarthy, S.P. Sullivan, Stephen Stirling, Yan Wu, Erin Petenko, Disha Raychaudhuri, Blake Nelson, of NJ Advance Media (NJ.com & The Star-Ledger for “The Force Report.”
  • Third place: Erin Roll of The Montclair Local for “Absenteeism in Montclair schools.”

Best Grassroots Journalism

  • First place: Rebecca Panico and Mark Bonamo of TAPinto Newark for multiple stories: “Governor Murphy: ‘I drink Newark’s water.’’; Newark City Council Members are mad they didn’t get front row seats at Sotomayor event’’; ‘’5 major issues Newark Public Schools inherited from state-controlled Leadership’’; “McGovern’s summer renovation closing party celebrates change’’; and “Hip-Hop manager turned developer becomes part of the West Ward’s revitalization’’.
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NJSPJ endorses bill that will boost student press freedoms in the Garden State

The New Jersey SPJ chapter was proud to join forces with the Garden State Scholastic Press Association and other advocates who testified before the state Senate Education Committee this week in support of a bill that will beef up press rights for high school and college students in New Jersey.  The bill – part of a state-by-state campaign organized by the Student Press Law Center called New Voices — was unanimously approved by the state Senate committee, paving the way for a vote on the floor of the New Jersey Senate sometime in September. To learn more about the New Voices campaign and the New Jersey bill specifically, see this report posted on the Student Press Law Center website.

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Awards lunch keynote to focus on legacy of African-American journalist T. Thomas Fortune

For Immediate Release

Contact: Miriam Ascarelli at 862-576-1256 or ascarelli@gmail.com. 

Keynote address at NJ SPJ’s awards lunch will focus on legacy of T. Thomas Fortune, a crusading 19th century black journalist from Red Bank, NJ

The New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce that Dr. Walter Greason, historian and professor at Monmouth University, and president of the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation will be the keynote speaker at NJ SPJ’s annual Signature Awards Luncheon June 22.

The event, to be held at Maize Restaurant in the Robert Treat Hotel, Newark, runs from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.   Tickets are $30 each and can be purchased here.

The luncheon will fete the first, second and third place winners of NJ SPJ’s annual Signature Awards journalism contest. The names of winners – whose work was published across various platforms, be it print, audio or video — will be announced at the event. Also to be announced will be the names of NJSPJ’s Educator of the Year and Reporter of the Year.

In addition, reporter Isaac Avilucea and editor John Berry, both of The Trentonian, will be honored as our two recipients of our prestigious Courage Under Fire award: The newspaper published several exclusive stories that the mayor and his administration were trying to keep under wraps. One administration official reported a burglary to police and suggested —in a supposed ‘joke’—that the reporter could be a suspect.  The paper stood by Avilucea, first with the staff un-earthing contradictory statements from police sources, then by filing an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit to obtain bodycam footage. In the end, the “burglary” was revealed not to have ever occurred.

Even after the incident, Trenton’s mayor continued to insist that Avilucea be removed from the City Hall beat.  The Courage Under Fire award is intended to send a message—to those in NJ and in Washington, DC—that SPJ will not allow public officials to dictate which journalists they will allow to cover them.

Greason’s keynote will focus on a little-known piece of Garden-State history: the legacy of  T. Thomas Fortune, one of the most prominent African-American journalists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fortune was co-owner and editor of The New York Age, one of the leading black newspapers of his day, and was known for using his newspaper as a vehicle to speak out against lynching, black disenfranchisement and other injustices.

Fortune also had a home in Red Bank, NJ, where he lived from 1901 to 1910.

Over the years, that home – which Fortune called Maple Hall – gradually fell into disrepair and was in danger of being torn down.

Maple Hall was saved from the wrecking ball in 2016, thanks to the efforts of local activists and developer Roger Mumford, who came up with a plan to restore the house and convert it to a cultural center and build 31 luxury apartments in the style of the home in the back of the property.…

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