NJ Journalism Impact Awards to be presented at Byrne Kean Dinner


Michael Aron, chief political correspondent for New Jersey Network and NJTV in a career that spanned eight governors, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in New Jersey Journalism at the inaugural Byrne Kean Dinner on Wednesday evening, September 29.

The non-profit Corporation for New Jersey Local Media (CNJLM) will also present New Jersey Journalism Impact Awards to seven journalists:

·        Sue Livio and Ted Sherman of the Star-Ledger and NJ.com, for their investigative reporting and analysis of the reasons for the devastating spread of Covid-19 through New Jersey nursing homes, killing more than 8,600 residents and staffers.

·        Blake Nelson and Joseph Atmonavage of the Star-Ledger and NJ.com, for their series of articles that uncovered the brutal middle-of-the-night assaults by corrections officers on female inmates at the Edna Mahan Correctional Institute for Women in Hunterdon County.

·        Scott Fallon and Lindy Washburn of The Record of Hackensack and NorthJersey.com, for their investigative reporting on the deadly coronavirus outbreak at the state-run Paramus Veterans Home, which had the highest death rate of any veterans facility in the nation.

·        Jennifer Jean Miller for her reporting for the New Jersey Herald on the discovery of 18 bodies stacked in a makeshift morgue at the Andover Subacute nursing facility, which alerted the state and the nation to the extent of the Covid-19 crisis sweeping through nursing homes, and for her subsequent interviews with families and staff on how the outbreak was kept hidden.

A second New Jersey Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Joseph Albright, the nation’s longest-serving Statehouse correspondent who still writes a weekly column for the Jersey Journal, at the premiere of “Saint Joseph,” a documentary by videographer Tim Stollery, later in the year. A 5-minute trailer from the film will be shown as part of the program, which also includes entertainment by former and current members of the Legislative Correspondents Club. Tickets for the September 29 event at The Stone Terrace by John Henry’s in Hamilton Township are available through CNJLM’s website at www.NewsWeNeed.org.

“It is important to recognize the critical role that quality professional journalism plays in creating an informed citizenry and fostering civic engagement in a democratic society,” said  Richardson. “These awards not only highlight the best work of individual journalists, but also the importance of preserving and expanding news reporting at both the state and local level.”

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have relied on dedicated journalists to question authority, seek the truth, and report it,” said Stefanie Murray, director of Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media, who chaired the awards committee. “These awards recognize the best and most impactful journalism during that most difficult and challenging time.”

Aron, who moderated more gubernatorial debates than any other individual and covered governors from Brendan Byrne to Phil Murphy, recently stepped down as chief NJTV correspondent and anchor of Reporters Roundtable, but will continue to make special appearances on the station’s broadcasts.

“For nearly 40 years, Michael has been the leading, most recognizable and most trusted voice covering New Jersey politics and government,” Murray said. “His nomination for this award called him ‘the ‘Walter Cronkite’ of New Jersey public television whose questioning of governmental and political leaders shaped the course of elections and policy.”

Albright’s long career, which began at The Trentonian in 1947, drew the attention of Columbia Journalism Review, which profiled him when he turned four years ago when he turned 88, and inspired Stollery to undertake a documentary, the completion of which CNJLM has taken on as a project.

The inaugural New Jersey Journalism Impact Awards are being given for the most important and influential articles on New Jersey issues published between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, when the Covid-19 crisis made it harder for both the press and the public to get the information they needed.

“At a time when far too few people understand what journalism is and what real journalist do, the excellence and impact of the work being celebrated here is a reminder of how important our profession is to our lives as individuals and as members of communities,” said Kim Pearson, Associate Professor at The College of New Jersey, who teaches journalism and served on the awards committee. “It is my profound hope that this recognition will encourage greater public attention and understanding of journalism, especially at the local level, and that it will encourage others to persist in getting at and getting out the information that we need to sustain ourselves, our communities, and our democratic life.”

“The journalists who open the eyes of readers to public health hazards, political shenanigans, and critical environmental challenges, while also offering stories of hope, promise, opportunity, and accomplishment, tend to avoid the spotlight themselves. So we are choosing to recognize them, and, I think, by doing so, also acknowledge the contributions –indeed the necessity– of the profession,” added Linda Stamato, the CNJLM vice-chair and Senior Policy Fellow at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, who also served on the awards panel.

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