Ohio University

Ohio University journalism Ph.D. graduate receives SPJ outstanding campus adviser award

Ohio University journalism Ph.D. graduate receives SPJ outstanding campus adviser award
Left, Dr. Nick Hirshon celebrates his award with Ohio University associate lecturer Nerissa Young, right, who received the award in 2015.

SAN ANTONIO — The Society of Professional Journalists has named Nicholas Hirshon as the recipient of this year’s David L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award. He is a 2016 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism’s doctoral program.

Hirshon is a journalism professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey, where he also advises the SPJ student chapter. He received the award Friday evening at a reception honoring student journalists and their teachers during the Excellence in Journalism Conference.

Dr. Michael Sweeney was graduate director at the Scripps journalism school when Hirshon was a student. He said: “Dr. Hirshon has always shown tremendous dedication to teaching his students practical skills as well as creativity and curiosity. I am not surprised by this award, but rather pleased that others now recognize what I have long known.”

At OHIO, Hirshon taught Introduction to Multiplatform Reporting and Writing, and Magazine Feature Writing.

He and 11 students founded the campus chapter, called the William Paterson Society of Professional Journalists in the fall of 2017. In her nomination letter, founding member and 2018-19 President Maria Zuniga said, with Hirshon’s guidance, the chapter “has undoubtedly strengthened the journalism culture on our campus.” Since its founding, the chapter has grown to have more than two dozen dues-paying members with more students attending events. 

He said: “As soon as I joined the faculty at William Paterson in 2016, I knew I wanted to start a student chapter there. It's not an easy time to be a journalism major. There's so much talk about low pay, declining circulations, tumbling ratings and 'fake news.’ In the face of all that negativity, the Society of Professional Journalists offers inspiration and encouragement. I'd seen OUSPJ run so many incredible events and build camaraderie among the professors and students at Scripps, and I wanted my students at William Paterson to experience that too. And thanks to a bunch of outstanding student journalists there, and a lot of support from our chair and dean, we’ve built what SPJ now recognizes as one of the top chapters in the nation. It proves that dedicated students at any journalism program, no matter its size or resources, can achieve excellence.”

Before obtaining his doctorate in mass communication at OHIO, Hirshon was a reporter at the New York Daily News from 2005 to 2011, covering breaking and community news. He also wrote three series that sparked efforts to preserve historic sites such as the longest continuously operated movie theater in the United States. In 2010, he received an award from a prominent preservation group, the Historic Districts Council, for his coverage of forgotten sites in the borough of Queens. He has also freelanced for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Hockey News.

The Outstanding Campus Chapter Adviser Award, initiated in 1978, is presented annually to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the campus chapter for which he or she serves as SPJ adviser. In 1993, the SPJ Board of Directors voted to change the award name to the David Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award to honor Eshelman, a longtime member of the Society and SPJ Board parliamentarian, who was killed in 1993. Eshelman was a mass communications professor at Central Missouri State University.

Founded in 1909, SPJ is the nation’s oldest and largest journalism organization in the nation. Its hallmarks are protecting the public’s right to an open government and training journalists to act ethically and respect diversity in the communities they cover.