Sept. 20, 2007
By Erin Roberts | Photo by Rick Fatica
For the fifth year in a row, Ohio University's chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists has been named the Region 4 Outstanding Chapter.
The chapter, named Best in the Nation last year, is in contention for this year's national title to be announced Oct. 5 during the SPJ Convention in Washington, D.C. In addition, longtime educator and Ohio University Professor Emeritus Ralph Izard has been selected to receive the association's Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award, also on Oct. 5.
The Ohio University SPJ chapter is one of 12 student chapters to be honored with regional awards for accomplishments in upholding the missions of the society during the academic year. In 2006-07, the chapter completed a service project in which members researched the media habits and attitudes of 325 Ohio college students from eight universities.
"The final report provides a snapshot of college students' wants and needs that professional journalists throughout the state can use to better understand a much-coveted audience segment," said chapter adviser Cary Roberts Frith, assistant professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. "The students applied social science research techniques to a real-world problem and learned an incredible amount in the process. It was a pleasure guiding the efforts of such talented and motivated aspiring journalists."
SPJ members also conducted programming and hosted industry speakers, most notably Virginia Heffernen, a television critic for The New York Times, for the benefit and professional development of fellow journalism students.
"The Ohio University chapter distances itself from other chapters in Region 4 with its programming," said Region 4 Director Kevin Smith. "The programs were extensive, and chapter members clearly were deeply involved and offered great opportunities for all the journalism students at the university."
With 80 members, the Ohio University SPJ chapter is one of the largest of nearly 200 campus chapters in the nation. Although sponsored by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, the chapter is open to any Ohio University student who is interested in pursuing journalism as a career.
"The fact that our student chapter has won this award so many times is a tribute to our students, but also to their advisers, Bill Reader and Cary Frith," said E.W. Scripps School Director Tom Hodson.
The 2006-07 student chapter officers included Paul Kita, president; Karen Zolka, vice president; Erin Smith, secretary; Shari Stuerenberg, treasurer; Lee Robbins, programming; Becca Bonthius, publicity; and Ashley Lutz and Garrett Downing, freshman liaisons. Smith was also a member of the SPJ National Board.
Izard, who now serves as the Sig Mickelson/CBS professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, worked at Ohio University for 32 years, 12 of which he served as director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
He is being honored in part for co-founding Mass Communicating: The Forum on Media Diversity (www.masscommunicating.lsu.edu), a Web site offering information to help reporters and editors improve news coverage on minority issues.