Save Oct. 14 for SkillsFest

Editor’s note: The Oct. 14 Skills Fest has been postponed. We’ll let you know about the new date as soon as it is determined. 

Good news!

SPJ National has awarded a $500 grant to help us stage another Skills Fest event.

Our first Skills Fest in April was a success. We drew 22 students and professional to the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark for a half-day of training on social media and other journalism applications.

Each of the participants either became new members or were about to renew their membership, so we grew out chapter by 20 percent in a single day.

However, there were some costs that the chapter had to pay. The grant from SPJ national will help us cover those costs.

Our next SkillsFest will again be at NJIT on Saturday, Oct. 14. Please save the date and watch for details on our guest speakers.

A chapter grows at William Paterson

The NJSPJ board with William Paterson University students. Photo by Robert Bugai.

Our most recent board meeting took place on Sept. 16 at William Paterson University in Wayne where we were graciously hosted by the Communications Department.

We met with their chairman, faculty and several print and broadcast students who recently became SPJ members.

The University agreed to pay for the students’ membership fees in hopes of establishing a student chapter on campus.

We offered to do what we can to help them in that effort.

Welcome to our newest board member

During our September meeting, the board voted to add Nick Hirshon to our board of directors.

Nick is an associate professor at William Paterson who will be serving a campus advisor to our new SPJ student chapter there.

He is a former New York City journalist and Deadline Club member who has written for the New York Daily News and other publications. He also has written books on the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Forest Hills, the Queens neighborhood that hosts the U.S. Open.

Nick has a Bachelor’s in journalism from St. John’s University, a Master’s in journalism from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in mass communication from Ohio University.

We welcome Nick to our board and look forward to working with him on the new student chapter.


I made some mistakes in my previous president’s message on our other new board member, Claire Regan.

Claire continues to serve on the board of the Deadline Club, where she is vice president for special projects. She has also chaired their scholarship committee for about 10 years.

And Claire co-chaired last year’s spring regional conference with Region 1 Director Jane Primerano.

She is also a regular contributor to the Staten Island Advance, where she previously served as an editor.

The addition of Claire and Nick make an already strong SPJ NJ Board even better.

Saying farewell to Fran…

A group of SPJ members attended the funeral service for Fran Burns on Sept. 17 at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton.

It was a fine and lovely service that drew people from all corners of Fran’s life, from her family, her church, her UPI pals and even people who went to college with her as far back as 1965.

Afterwards in the Cathedral’s great hall, people came together for a meal and to share their Fran stories. SPJers Barbara Reed and Jane Primerano did a nice job contributing their own.

I didn’t know Fran as well as others in the chapter. But we did share one thing in common besides our involvement in SPJ.

We both got our start in journalism at the same newspaper, The Hudson Dispatch, a tough, feisty paper in Union City.  I worked there about three years before Fran arrived. The Dispatch is long gone now.

At the front of the church hall, someone had posted an oversized copy of a front page story Fran wrote for the Dispatch in August 1983 under the banner headline “Musto conviction upheld.”

Seeing that headline and the Dispatch masthead made me realize the one other thing we had in common – how the thrill and excitement and seemingly endless work of those early years left a profound impact on both of us for the rest of our lives.

I’m glad that I got a chance to meet Fran so many years later through SPJ.

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