President’s Message

Hi folks,

This will be my final message as president of the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The vagaries of a journalism career have taken me back to Denver, where I am now a reporter for Colorado Politics.

It has been an honor to serve as president of our chapter and I feel that I’m leaving it in the good hands of a capable and dedicated board of directors.

SPJ NJ Board election

Speaking of the board, it is time for our annual chapter election. We’ll be electing officers and two board positions in June.

Miriam Ascarelli has agreed to serve one final year as chapter president.

Board members Nick Hirshon will run for vice president and Melanie Anzidei will run for secretary.

Lew Wheaton, who did a great job this year as contest coordinator, has agreed to run for chapter treasurer.

He would replace Elizabeth Oguss, who served in that role for three years and leaves with our profound thanks.

Emily Kratzer is stepping down as secretary, but she has agreed to run for a seat on the board.

And I will continue to serve – albeit remotely – as past president.

Also continuing to serve are our board members elected last year to a two-year term. They are: Robert Bugai, David Levitt, Jane Primerano, Claire Regan and Bob Schapiro,

If you are a dues-paying member of our chapter, you are eligible to run for any of the open seats.

The board seat would be for a two-year term.

At minimum, it requires attending a two-hour monthly board meeting held at various locations throughout the state.

Board members and officers are also called upon to attend and assist with our major projects, such as the annual journalism awards program and our New Jersey Journalism Hall of Fame event.

If you are interested in running for a seat on the board, please contact Miriam, who will be serving as our elections chair.Miriam’s email:

Chapter members will receive an email ballot in early June. Please take a moment to fill out that ballot and send it back.

Saving The Targum

We were all dismayed to read recently that The Targum, the independent student newspaper for Rutgers University, is in financial trouble after failing to win enough support in a student referendum.

In response to this situation, our board has released the following statement:

“The New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists wishes to express its support for the student journalists of The Targum at Rutgers University.

“We are concerned that the recent student vote puts in jeopardy the future of the second-oldest student newspaper in the United States.

“Our chapter calls upon the University to do what it can to assure the paper’s continued viability.…

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Miriam Ascarelli, VP of NJSPJ, and Dr. Nick Hirshon, adviser for WPSPJ.

NJ and WP SPJ initiate awards

Hobart Hall filled for awards ceremony, induction 

Rising journalists and established professionals lent an air of excitement to the first William Paterson University SPJ Awards Ceremony and New Jersey SPJ Journalism Hall of Fame event.

The student chapter honored its friends of WPSPJ: NJSPJ President John Ensslin, theater critic Ruth Ross and sports reporter Denis Gorman during the ceremony held April 18 in Hobart Hall.

During the ceremony, the NJSPJ inducted Anna Quindlen, John McPhee and Jonathan Alter to its New Jersey Journalism Hall of Fame. Gabe Pressman and Edith Schapiro were inducted posthumously. The inductees were nominated by a panel of former NJSPJ presidents and approved by the NJSPJ board.

The emcees for the evening were Miriam Ascarelli, vice president of NJSPJ, and Dr. Nicholas Hirshon, a journalism professor at WP and the founder and adviser of the WPSPJ.

WP is the host of the New Jersey Journalism Hall of Fame and the NJSPJ plaque bearing the names of inductees will be kept at the university’s Communication Department.

Couldn’t make the ceremony? View it at William Paterson SPJ on Facebook – here.











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Join us on April 18 at WPU!

William Paterson University to host

NJ Journalism Hall of Fame

WAYNE, N.J. – The William Paterson College of the Arts and Communication and the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announce that William Paterson University will become the home of the New Jersey Journalism Hall of Fame.

The inaugural induction will take place during the William Paterson chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Awards Ceremony. The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Hobart Hall, which houses the William Paterson University Communication Department.

Tickets for this inaugural event are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Proceeds will benefit both WPSPJ and NJSPJ.

Tickets can be purchased here.

The inductees

The first class to be inducted into the New Jersey Journalism Hall of Fame includes:

Jonathan Alter, an author and former columnist for Newsweek, who recently co-directed the HBO documentary “Breslin and Hamill – Deadline Artists.” Alter lives in Montclair.

Anna Quindlen, an author and former columnist for the New York Times who has a new book coming out titled “Nanaville – Adventures in Grandparenting.” Quindlen is a South Brunswick native. Quindlen will take part via a video greeting.

John McPhee, an author and writer for The New Yorker, whose most recent book is a collection of non-fiction stories titled “The Patch.” McPhee lives in Princeton and teaches journalism at Princeton University. McPhee will be honored in absentia.

•The late Gabe Pressman, a legendary television news journalist for more than 60 years at WNBC-TV in New York City, who got his start in journalism working for the Newark Evening News. His widow Vera will accept the honor.

•The late Edith Schapiro worked on the first broadcasts of the CBS Evening News, then went on to become the first woman editor at the Newark Evening News, then N.J.’s leading newspaper. In later years she founded a national Sunday supplement that featured the work of high school journalists and produced public service commercials for “Project Search” of the Red Cross, which re-unites families separated by war and disaster. After she was refused membership in the Society of Professional Journalists, when women were not allowed to join, she served as the longtime president of New Jersey Press Women.

The inductees were nominated by a panel of former New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists presidents and approved by the N.J. Society of Professional Journalists board.

The ceremony

The emcees for the evening will be Miriam Ascarelli, vice president of NJSPJ, and Dr. Nicholas Hirshon, a journalism professor at WPU and the founder and adviser for the William Paterson student chapter Society of Professional Journalists, also known as WPSPJ.…

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What’s happening at NJ-SPJ


Procrastination got the better of you?

There’s still hope. We’ve extended the contest deadline for this year’s NJ-SPJ Signature Awards to 11:59 p.m. March 15.

Detailed descriptions of each category can be found on the contest page of our website ( or on the submission form itself.

Here is the list of categories:

  • The Stuart and Beverly Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Journalism by a weekly or hyperlocal publication
  • The Wilson Barto award for Outstanding “Rookie” Journalist of the Year
  • The David Carr award for Reporter of the Year
  • The Ron Miskoff award for Outstanding Journalism Educator of the Year
  • The Herbert Morrison Award for Best Audio News Story
  • The Tim O’Brien Award for Best Use of Public Records in a Story
  • The Gabe Pressman award for Best Video News Story
  • The Barbara Reed Award for Outstanding Reporting by an Ethnic News Outlet
  • The Grassroots Journalism award for Best Coverage by a Weekly or Hyperlocal
  • Best Investigative Journalism by a Weekly Publication
  • Best Investigative Journalism by a Daily Publication

Questions? Contact Lew Wheaton, our contest coordinator, at or call 973-556-7530


In the spirit of cooperation, we’re helping to spread the word about another organization’scontest: The Garden State Journalists Association   2019 Memorial Journalism Awards .

The contest is open to all reporters, editors, broadcast journalists, photographers and media relations professionals who live, work in or write about New Jersey. All entries must have been published in the calendar year 2018.

The entry form is here: 

All entries and payment must be received  ON OR BEFORE MARCH 22, 2019 .

Mail entries to Anthony Birritteri, New Jersey Business Magazine, 310 Passaic Avenue, Fairfield, NJ 07004.

Winners will be notified by mid-April. Awards will be presented at the GSJA Annual Dinner and Installation of Officers, scheduled for May 22 at Don Pepe’s in Newark.


NJ-SPJ will host the inaugural induction of outstanding journalists into our New Jersey Journalism Hall of Fame on Thursday, April 18, at William Paterson University in Wayne. The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. in Hobart Hall, which houses the university’s Communication Department.

We will be honoring Jonathan Alter, Anna Quindlen, John McPhee, the late Gabe Pressman, and the late Edith Schapiro. Cost is $20 per person. To purchase tickets, click here.


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March 16: Learn to make your own podcast

Here’s your chance to learn the basic skills of creating your own podcast.

In a one-day workshop on Sat., March 16, you can learn about the possibilities of podcasting, what makes for a good podcast and how to promote it.

We’ll also provide you with hands-on training for how to record, edit, script and produce a podcast.

The workshop is co-sponsored by The Deadline Club and the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

It will take place in the offices of Retro Report, 633 Third Ave., New York City.

The workshop will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. Instruction will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with a break for lunch.

Participants must bring their own laptop computer and smart phone.

To register for the workshop, go here.

Register before March 1 to take advantage of the early bird rate of $65 for professionals and $25 for students. After March 1, registration rises to $75 for professionals and $35 for students. The fee does not include lunch.

Speakers for this event include:

Alex Kapelman, who has produced content for WNYC, KCRW, Audible, and Gimlet Media. His audio work has been featured on NPR and BuzzFeed, and in publications like The Atlantic and New York Magazine; he has also been tapped as a contributor to NPR. Alex co-founded Pitch, a critically acclaimed narrative podcast series, and is the founder of Podcast Love, a podcast company that provides consulting for brands and teaching tools for podcasters.  He is also an adjunct journalism instructor at New York University. Alex will present on how to get great content, specifically tailored for podcasting.
Mike Savino, who produces a daily news podcast for the Record-Journal in Meriden, Ct. Mike oversees local and state government coverage for the newspaper. He is is a national board member ofSPJ and president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. Mike will talk about the tools and techniques of podcasting.
 John Ensslin, who has created and produced several podcasts, including Studio SPJ, Record Talk Radio and On the Record. John has worked for newspapers in New York, New Jersey and Colorado. He is a past national president of SPJ and is the current president of SPJ New Jersey. John will talk about how to script and edit your podcast.

For more information on the workshop, call John Ensslin at 973-513-5632 or email him at


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