Former Central Ohio SPJ President James Hunkler passes

Sad news for the Central Ohio journalists and communications professionals.


Jim Hunkler

James R. Hunkler, former communications director of and employee of Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus for more than 40 years, died Wednesday, April 26.

He was 88.

Hunkler served as president of the Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for 1969-1970.

He was awarded the Chapter’s Distinguished Service Award in 1977.

According to his obituary printed in The Columbus Dispatch, Hunkler was active in several community and professional groups, including the Columbus Urban League, Columbus Area Leadership Program (and its Leadership Columbus alumni group), Gypsies Travel Club, LifeCare Alliance Meals on Wheels, Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi, Press Club of Ohio, the West Virginia University Journalism Alumni Association, the University District Organization in Columbus, and the International Visitors Council in Columbus.

In addition to his SPJ honors, he was a recipient of the Columbus Area Leadership Program’s Columbus Area Leadership Award in 1990 and the Press Club of Ohio’s Hambone Award in 1991. Hunkler was a a longtime member of St. Christopher Church in Columbus.

He was the only child of James M. and Geneva (Phillips) Hunkler, both deceased, of Wheeling, W. Va. According to his obituary, Jim leaves no immediate family, but is survived by many cherished friends in Columbus, Wheeling and various parts of the world.

He requested no visitation. His funeral Mass is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 2,  at St. Christopher’s, 1420 Grandview Ave., Columbus. Burial is to follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Wheeling. In lieu of flowers, friends are asked, if they wish, contribute to the charity of their choice.

Read the full obituary from the Dispatch.

68th Founders’ Day: Celebrating Central Ohio’s best journalism

Cappa, Lease, Revish and Yost honored; $7,500 in scholarships awarded

The Central Ohio Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist celebrated its 68th Founders’ Day banquet Thursday evening, April 6, awarding $7,500 in scholarships, issuing chapter awards to recognize outstanding local journalism and installing new officers and board of directors members.

The event, held at the Amelita Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington, recognizes the founding of the chapter in 1949. Today, membership includes about 75 members working in all phases of journalism. Close to 60 people attended the event.

Dr. Paul Kostyu, a journalism professor at Ohio Wesleyan University and longtime Ohio journalist, addressed the meeting, discussing his actions during the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport in January. On that day, Kostyu sprang into action to feed national news outlets with briefs and photos.

Chapter Awards granted

First Amendment Award: Ohio Auditor Dave Yost for conducting more than 4,000 performance audits and other special audits of public entities annually.

Distinguished Service Award: Doug Buchanan, managing editor of Columbus Business First, where he has worked for 19 years, for his service to the chapter as the outgoing president.

Appreciation Awards: (1) Dominic Cappa, retiring editor in chief of Columbus Business First, after a 19-year career at the helm of the daily business journal. (2) Carol Ann Lease, retired city editor of The Columbus Dispatch, after a distinguished career leading local news coverage for the city’s metropolitan daily newspaper.

Brick Wall Awards: (1) The Ohio State University, for its lack of transparency in public records, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch. An OSU spokesman maintains that the Dispatch’s reporting on its performance with public records “contained multiple falsehoods” and that the Brick Wall Award “endorses inaccurate reporting.”  (2)  U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, each received a brick for their lack of attendance at public hearings on federal health-care legislation. Representatives for both Portman and Tiberi strongly objected to the suggestion that they were not accessible to their constituents, pointing to many events they had hosted and attended, both in person and by phone, where concerned citizens could express their concerns about health care.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jerry Revish, news anchor for WBNS-TV, received the chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award for more than four decades of central Ohio journalism in radio and television. Revish joined the team of WBNS-TV in 1980, where his reporting skills have taken him around the world.  Among his reporting honors: 11 Emmy awards, two Edward R. Murrow awards and the Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is a member of the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Student Scholarships awarded

Each year at Founders Day, the Central Ohio Pro Chapter awards four scholarships to promising journalism students. This year alone, $7,500 in scholarships were awarded. The chapter has awarded scholarships worth more than $70,000 to nearly 80 journalism students since the program began.

  • The Jacob A. Meckstroth Scholarship for Ohio State University students is $2,000, named in memory of  Meckstroth (1887-1985), a member of OSU’s first journalism class, a founding member of the chapter and an active journalist for nearly half a century. This year’s winner is Kelly Rudolph, a junior in the School of Communications. She is president and a former treasurer of OSU’s student SPJ Chapter and is credited for recruiting an adviser and new members and programs.
  • The Norman H. Dohn Scholarship is $2,000, open to Ohio University students who are SPJ members and named in memory of Dohn (1920-1997), a founding member of the chapter as well as a longtime Columbus journalist, OU professor of journalism and SPJ board member. This year’s winner is Anthony Heim, a second-year student in the news and information track at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.  Heim is program committee chairman of OU’s SPJ student chapter, a freelancer for Time Inc., intern for All In Sports Talk and a past volunteer videographer and on-camera personality for WOUB.
  • The James W. Faulkner Scholarship is named in memory of Faulkner, a former Ohio Statehouse correspondent for The Cincinnati Enquirer, the founder of the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association and the dean of political writers during his lifetime. This year’s winners, of $1,500 each, are Sheridan Hendrix of  The Ohio State University and Hayley Harding of Ohio University. Hendrix is the Oller Reporter for The Lantern, a position designed to give reporters at OSU’s student newspaper time to work on longer enterprise stories. Her reporting has included coverage of the board of trustees, university president, on-campus protests, 2016 elections and the funeral of U.S. Sen. John Glenn. She is a member of SPJ’s student chapter. Harding is a junior in the news and information track at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and also is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science. She is president and a former treasurer of OU’s student SPJ chapter, has worked as editor of the student-run newspaper, The Post, and has worked at The Denver Post, The New Political and mental_floss.
  • The Marty Award recognizes high-school journalists and is named in memory of Martin L. Rozenman, a Central Ohio SPJ Chapter board member, editor at Suburban News Publications and a Columbus Dispatch reporter. Clare Proctor of Dublin Coffman High School also won the Best Feature Writing award this year for “After the Attack,” a story about a student whose family survived an attack in Iraq in 2005 and moved to the United States. Four other students won awards in other writing categories.

Link to the ThisWeek Community News story on all the 2017 winners in The Martys Contest for Central Ohio high school journalists

Board of Directors

New Officers of the CentraL Ohio SPJ for the 2017-2018 programming year are:

  • President: Kevin Z. Smith, Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism, The Ohio State University           
  • First Vice President (programming): Bruce Cadwallader, Franklin County Children Services
  • Second Vice President (membership): Mary Ann Edwards, retired from The Columbus Dispatch
  • Secretary: Doug Buchannan, Columbus Business First      
  • Treasurer: Joe Meyer, Meyer Media LLC

Board members continuing their service in new three-year terms are: Julanne Hohbach, Columbus Parent; Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau, Ohio Public Radio & Television; Mary Ann Edwards, retired from The Columbus Dispatch; and Joe Meyer, Meyer Media LLC. Two new board members were sworn to fill unexpired terms. They are Susan Post, Metropreneur/Columbus Underground and Mark Ferenchik, The Columbus Dispatch.

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Ohio’s Best Journalism – 2017: Competition Call for Entries!

UPDATED: Ohio’s Best Journalism contest is now accepting submissions honoring the Best of Ohio’s Print, Broadcasting, Digital Media, Freelance, Trade and College Journalism in 2016.

The Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) are accepting entries for the 20th annual awards competition.

Eligible journalists must work for newspaper, magazine, radio, television, trade, digital or college media in Ohio and adjacent states that have significant reach into Ohio. Freelance journalists, who are Ohio residents are eligible, regardless of where their work is published, broadcast or webcast. Entrants need not be SPJ members.

The deadline for entries is midnight March 31, 2017. The deadline for this year’s Ohio SPJ Awards contest has been extended to Sunday, April 9, 2017. No entries will be accepted after midnight, Sunday, April 9, 2017.

Entry information and a list of categories are available at our new competition website:

Please take note of some new changes this year: In response to your questions, we clarified and made consistent details regarding the number of articles/broadcasts in specific categories. We also have added a new field asking whose name(s) should appear on any award. It is our sincere hope our updates eliminate confusion and streamline the submission process.

Please contact us with any questions or comments at:

Our annual statewide contest is presented collaboratively by the Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland Pro Chapters of SPJ and is the only Ohio competition that honors journalists who fulfill the SPJ mission: defense of the First Amendment, support of literacy, resistance to censorship, advocacy for openness of public records and meetings, media self criticism and community service. Our contest also recognizes the best college daily and weekly newspapers.

QUESTIONS: For additional information, please visit our website– – or contact: Sarah Mills Bacha 614-563-1066 or

Journalism workshop focuses on better storytelling about suicide

Media coverage about suicide may be a factor in others’ decisions to take their lives by suicide.

That’s the premise behind a series of six workshops around Ohio that will teach campus and professional journalists the strategies and language they should use to report suicides in an informative, accurate and meaningful way to better serve their communities.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults ages 15-34.

“We have known for a long time that the media’s coverage of suicide influences rates of suicide in a community,” said John Ackerman, workshop trainer, clinical psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and suicide prevention coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research. “Any community serious about reducing suicides needs to partner with journalists. I find that journalists and suicide prevention advocates have similar goals of informing the public, telling stories that matter and providing a way forward for those in crisis.”

“Journalists are taught to not get involved in the stories they cover — to just report the facts,” said Nerissa Young, workshop trainer and lecturer in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. “However, the role of journalism is to be a watchdog to move society toward a better end for everyone. Suicide is not like any other kind of death, so those stories should be more than a note on the crime blotter or a news brief. Suicide is a public health issue. Helping reporters do a better job on this topic is the same as a story detailing heart disease and how a person can recognize symptoms and get appropriate treatment.”

Ackerman said, “I hope it becomes clear that responsible suicide reporting is not limiting, but rather it opens doors to telling rich and meaningful stories.”

The fourth workshop will be at The Ohio State University on April 4 at 5:15 p.m. in Room L045 at The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, 460 W. 10th Ave.

There is no fee to attend and preregistration is not required.

Parking will be available at South Cannon Garage, 1640 Cannon Drive. It is presented by The Ohio State University chapter of Society of Professional Journalists. Snacks will be provided.

The workshop is a collaboration among the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

For more information contact Nerissa Young, lecturer, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, at or 540-599-7472.

68th Annual Founders’ Day Celebration – Thursday April 6, 2017

Please join us for the 68th annual Central Ohio SPJ Founders’ Day Celebration Thursday, April 6, 2017, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at Amelita Mirolo Barn Sunny 95 Park, 4395 Carriage Hill Lane, Upper Arlington, Ohio 43220.

Gather with your central Ohio media colleagues and celebrate our 2017 student scholarship winners and chapter award recipients. Don’t miss our annual silent auction with all proceeds supporting our annual student scholarships.

Paul Kostyu

This year’s featured speaker will be longtime SPJ member Paul Kostyu who will share his experiences of traveling through Fort Lauderdale International Airport Jan. 6, 2017, and his on-the-spot reporting that generated high-profile bylines.

Mix and mingle begins at 5:30 p.m. and include hors d’oveures and bar with beer, wine and soft drinks. The program will follow beginning at 6:15 p.m.

Cost is $45 per person. We look forward to celebrating with you Thursday, April 6.

Click here to register today!

The Central Ohio SPJ chapter has a long history of supporting high school and college journalism scholarships and programs through memorials and our annual silent auction. We thank are grateful for enthusiastic participation in our auctions. If you have questions about the auction or would like to donate items to support journalism students, please contact board members Bruce Cadwallader at or Kevin Smith at

It’s almost time for Founders’ Day!

founders' day

Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 6, 2017, Our 68th Annual Founders’ Day celebration will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. that Thursday. For the second year in a row, we’ll hold the shindig at the Amelita Mirola Barn in Upper Arlington’s Sunny 95 Park. It’s a great venue.

So JOIN US and gather with your Central Ohio media colleagues to celebrate our 2017 student scholarship winners and Chapter Award recipients.

Founders' Day

Silent Auction help, please!

We are looking for Silent Auction donations. All money raised from the popular Founders’ Day Auction goes to fund our student scholarships.

Please contact board members Bruce Cadwallader at or Kevin Smith at if you have items to donate.

Registration info will be available soon.

SPJ-PRSA Mixer: Tour Capital University’s Convergent Media Center – March 7


Please join  us!

The Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists invites its members to join our friends and colleagues at the Central Ohio Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America for a joint member mixer and reception.

The SPJ-PRSA event is free to members and will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 (Please note this corrected date.) at Capital University’s recently opened Convergent Media Center, 590 College Ave.

A tour of the new facility will be featured.

To learn more about the Convergent Media Center, please visit:

Join us! An evening of mystery with authors Marilyn Greenwald and Julie Rubini, Thurs., Feb. 2, 7 p.m.

Please join the Thurber House, Central Ohio SPJ members and friends for an evening with The Hardy Boys and SPJ member and former Central Ohio SPJ board member and president, Marilyn Greenwald. Greenwald, a former newspaper journalist, is a journalism professor at Ohio University and biographer, who will discuss her latest book, The Secret of The Hardy Boys, Leslie McFarlane and the Stratemeyer Syndicate, Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Columbus Museum of Art.

She will be joined by Maumee author Julie Rubini, who has written a book about journalist Millie Benson, ghost writer of the Nancy Drew series, called Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist.

Tickets are $15 in advance and at the door. To order in advance, call 614.464.1032, Ext. 11, or visit






(Left to right: Marilyn Greenwald, Julie Rubini)

To purchase and learn more about the book, click here:


Supreme Court hands down major Open Records ruling

Open Records

Columbus Dispatch photo

Columbus Division of Police Headquarters, 120 Marconi Blvd.

In a major Open Records decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, Dec. 28, that Columbus Division of Police must release its files on closed criminal cases.

Columbus officials had argued the records could not be released as long as defendants still had potential appeals, The Columbus Dispatch reported. In the lawsuit filed by the Ohio Innocence Project, proponents said that practice rendered the police records secret until defendants died or were freed from prison.

Senior Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfefier wrote in the majority opinion.

“A defendant or member of the public can access potentially exonerating material concerning a defendant only after the defendant is dead. How did we get to this point?” he wrote. “We also should be concerned about the interests of justice.”

Read the full Columbus Dispatch article at this link:

Columbus attorney Fred Gittes argued on behalf of the Ohio Innocence Project in the suit.

Gittes is a past winner of the Central Ohio SPJ’s First Amendment Award (2006).

“The court made Ohio’s justice system better today. Ohioans owe a debt to the Ohio Innocence Project …”

Gittes represented Donald Caster, an Ohio Innocence Project lawyer who said that police illegally refused to release records in the case of Adam Saleh, who was convicted of the 2005 murder of Julie Popovich, 20, of Reynoldsburg.

“The court’s decision will help prevent innocent people from spending years in jail and get the actual criminals off the street and into prison where they belong,” Gittes said in the Dispatch article. “The court made Ohio’s justice system better today. Ohioans owe a debt to the Ohio Innocence Project …”


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Post-Election Happy Hour

You survived Election Day! Now you deserve a drink.

Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 5:30 p.m.

Join fellow journalists to celebrate the end of the 2016 election at Land Grant Brewing Company! Located at 424 W. Town St., just west of COSI.

Enjoy the first round on US. We’re meeting after work in Land Grant’s Kickstarter Room – the brewery’s one and only side room to the left of the bar. And if you get hungry, the OH! Burgers food truck will be present.

Come share your favorite election story!

Photo credit to Land Grant Brewing.