Tag Archives | Signature Awards

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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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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