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Ohio University named SPJ’s Outstanding Campus Chapter for second year in a row

Claire Berlin | Sep 14, 2017

(L-R) OU SPJ Chapter Adviser Nerissa Young, new National SPJ Student Representative Hayley Harding, OU SPJ President Maddie Capron and OU SPJ Vice President Mary Puzder. / Photo provided by Nerissa Young

Ohio University named SPJ’s Outstanding Campus Chapter for second year in a row

By Claire Berlin

ATHENS, Ohio (September 14, 2017)—The Society of Professional Journalists honored the Ohio University SPJ chapter with the Outstanding Campus Chapter award for the second year in a row for its commitment to SPJ’s mission and the profession of journalism.

According to an official news release from SPJ, the Ohio University SPJ chapter is being honored for its dedication to providing educational opportunities for members. In the last year, it staged 30 successful events with its 53 members.

“We are very proud of OHIO’s SPJ chapter and the distinction that their efforts bring to the Scripps College of Communication, and the entire University, each year,” said Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis. “This national recognition is yet another milestone in OHIO’s commitment to provide outstanding educational opportunities within an innovative campus environment.”

The Ohio University SPJ chapter is part of Region 4, which includes Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. The chapter has to take top honors in Region 4 and then moves on to compete against the best chapters from the other 11 regions in the nation before being named Outstanding Campus Chapter.

“It's a great feeling to know we are offering the best programming in the nation,” said faculty advisor Nerissa Young. “It's rare, if not unheard of, to repeat the award. OHIO has received this honor three of the past four years and seven times in the history of the chapter.”

The news release noted the variety of events and activities the chapter had hosted during the 2016-17 year. Under the leadership of adviser Nerissa Young and President Hayley Harding, some of the events the chapter hosted were a birthday party for James Madison, a First Amendment Free Food Festival, a campus-wide Grammar Smackdown contest and Q&A sessions with SPJ National President Lynn Walsh and other influential journalists.

Young also worked with the chapter to provide a session focused on social media and suicide coverage which attracted about 50 students. In addition, with attendance of more than 100 people, the chapter had Freedom Sings, a nationally known group, perform “banned” songs to highlight the power of the First Amendment and free speech.

The chapter was honored at the Student Union during the Excellence in Journalism 2017 conference in Anaheim, California, on Sept. 8, 2017.

“[Chapter President] Hayley Harding was nearly speechless, and I don't think that's ever happened in her life,” said Young. “Students enjoy the bragging rights after they've worked so hard to have a good year. Only chapters who submit annual reports are eligible for this award. Filling out the report takes time and good record-keeping throughout the year along with all the work to put on programming. I think they have definitely earned it.”

On Sept. 9, it was also announced that Harding was elected as one of two student representatives to the national SPJ board, making it a total of three times that an OHIO student has been on the national board in the past six years. Previous predecessors include Kate Hiller and Taylor Mirfendereski.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

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