During its 2023 convention in Las Vegas, the Society of Professional Journalists recognized the William Patterson Society of Professional Journalists, WPSPJ, as Outstanding Campus Chapter.
The chapter at William Paterson University in Wayne hosted 40 events focused on diversity, ethics, freedom of information and professional development during the 2022-2023 academic year. It also launched what is believed to be the first podcast created by an SPJ campus chapter, which features interviews between with journalists who have been invited to campus or been shadowed members.
The chapter also created the beta version of a digital archive where the public can access videos of their past educational events. It also contributed to the revitalization of the campus newspaper, the Beacon.
NJ-SPJ President P. Kenneth Burns congratulated William Patterson communications professor Nicholas Hirshon, who serves as the chapter’s adviser, and his students upon receiving the honor.
“The work that [Hirshon] has poured into his students is extraordinary,” Burns said. “Also, it is one of the most diverse chapters I’ve seen in my years of being active in SPJ.”
SPJ Region 1 director Chris Vaccaro said WPSPJ has been a consistent regional and national leader, advocating for journalists and journalism.
“Sure, they earn awards and have received recognition, but what’s more important is their impact on campus and in the industry,” he said. “The amount of programming and professional development done has set an example for how other SPJ student chapters should operate.”
This is the second time WPSPJ has been named Chapter of the Year since it was founded in 2017. Hirshon was named outstanding campus adviser in 2019 and 2021, becoming the first two-time recipient in the award’s nearly half-century history.
Among the programs hosted by the campus chapter: tours of the Al Jazeera bureau at the United Nations, 1010 WINS in New York, The Record, and Newsday, as well as several on-campus discussions with guest journalists and another 23 such meetings via Zoom.
In addition, WPSPJ co-hosted with NJ-SPJ “Invisible Asian Americans: Are the press and police ignoring New Jersey’s fastest-growing minority?” which featured a meet-and-greet with Hazel Sanchez of WPIX and a panel moderated by Peabody and Murrow award-winning journalist Ti-Hua Chang.
WPSPJ has not slowed down on their activities.
Recently, students toured the studios of WHYY-FM/TV (where Burns works as a reporter and anchor) and the headquarters of the Philadelphia Inquirer.