Central Ohio SPJ Chapter Awards

Chapter awards and winners

For decades, the Central Ohio SPJ chapter has honored service to journalism and the Society with three annual awards: The First Amendment Award, Distinguished Service Award and the Appreciation Award. Also, in 2001, the chapter’s board voted to add a fourth award – the Brick Wall Award – as a “dishonor” to call attention to public officials who improperly block access to public records or proceedings.

Past winners of these awards are listed below, although chapter records are incomplete. (If you can help fill in the blanks, let us know.)

This award recognizes significant contributions to the First Amendment rights of freedom of expression. Individuals and organizations both inside and outside of journalism are eligible.

2023  – TheColumbus Dispatch reporters Max Filby, Mike Wagner and Jennifer Smola Shaffer for the “Preying on Patients” series
2022 – Members of the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association
2021 – The Lantern – Reporters Sarah Szilagy, Maeve Walsh and Max Garrison
2019 – The Columbus Dispatch
2018 – The 10 Investigates team at WBNS-TV Channel 10
2017 – Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost2016 – Lucas Sullivan, Columbus Dispatch reporter
2015 – Dan Trevas, Ohio State Bar Association
2014 – Otterbein University students Anna Schiffbauer and Gena DiMattio
2013 – Bill Bush and Jennifer Smith Richards, Columbus Dispatch
2012 – Dan Gearino, Columbus Dispatch
2011 – Evan Millward, Ohio University
2010 – Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch
2009 – Geoff Dutton and Mike Wagner, Columbus Dispatch
2008 – Jill Riepenhoff and Jennifer Smith Richards, Columbus Dispatch
2007 – Marc Dann, Ohio attorney general
2006 – Fred Gittes, Gittes & Schulte
2005 – State Rep. W. Scott Oelslager, R, Canton
2004 – Dennis Leone, former superintendent of Chillicothe Schools
2003 – Martin Rozenman, Suburban News Publications
2002 – Catherine Candisky and Darrel Rowland, The Columbus Dispatch
2001 – Staff of the Ohio State University Lantern
2000 – Thomas A. Schwartz, OSU journalism professor
1999 – Cliff Wiltshire, Suburban News Publications
1998 – Verne Edwards, Delaware Gazette
1997 – Frank Deaner, Ohio Newspaper Association
1996 – Martin Yant, Ohio Observer magazine
1995 – Staff of the Ohio University Post
1994 – The Columbus Dispatch and Editor Bob Smith
1993 – not presented
1992 – Alan D. Miller, The Columbus Dispatch
1991 – The Fairfield County Leader
1990 – Luke Feck, former Dispatch editor
1989 – Andrew Douglas, Ohio Supreme Court Justice
1986 – Sam Perdue, Columbus Citizen-Journal city editor and columnist
1983 – Judge John W. McCormac of the Franklin County Court of Appeals

Other winners:
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (year not known)

This award is for a member of the chapter who demonstrates professional excellence and dedication to the Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.

2021- Garth Bishop, past chapter president
2019 – Doug Buchanan, past chapter president and editor in chief of Columbus Business First; Joe Meyer, past chapter president, owner of Meyer Media and former editor of ThisWeek Community News and Suburban News Publications; and Kevin Z. Smith, former chapter president and director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio University
2018 – Bruce Cadwallader, past chapter president, community outreach director at Franklin County Children’s Services and former courts reporter at The Columbus Dispatch
2017 – Doug Buchanan, editor-in-chief of Columbus Business First
2016 – Doug Buchanan, managing editor/digital for Columbus Business First
2015 – Kevin Z. Smith, Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism
2014 – Beth Gianforcaro and Philip Rudell, past chapter presidents
2013 – Eric Lyttle, Columbus Dispatch, past president
2012 – Julanne Hohbach, Columbus C.E.O., past president, and Sarah Mills-Bacha, SMB Communications, board member
2011 – Joe Meyer, Suburban News Publications, and Katy Waters, Columbus Business First, past presidents
2010 – Robin Hepler, past chapter president, and Jennifer Monnin, past chapter president
2009 – F. Michael Lorz, past chapter president
2008 – Brian R. Ball, past chapter president, and David W. Richter, past chapter board member
2007 – Jennifer Davis and Kirk Richards, past chapter board members
2006 – Martin L. Rozenman, past chapter board member
2005 – Bruce Cadwallader, past chapter president and national Legal Defense Fund chairman
2004 – Gary Kiefer and Chuck Nelson, past chapter presidents
2003 – Rose Hume, OSU chapter adviser and past chapter president
2002 – Katie Foley, past chapter president, and Paul Kostyu, board member
2001 – Joe McKnight and Sarah Mills Bacha, past chapter presidents
2000 – Jeff Botti, past chapter board member
1999 – Phil Rudell, past chapter president
1998 – Marilyn Greenwald, chapter board member and OU chapter adviser
1997 – Jim Toms, publisher of Suburban News Publications and past board member
1996 – Pat Schmucki, past chapter president
1995 – Beth Gianforcaro, past chapter president
1994 – Mary Beth Lane, past chapter president
1993 – Norman Dohn, Ohio University journalism professor and a chapter founder
1992 – Ralph Izard, director of Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism
1991 – Dr. Walter Bunge, director of the Ohio State University School of Journalism
1990 – Thomas A. Schwartz, past chapter president and OSU journalism professor
1989 – Carl L. Ebright, former assistant to the executive editor at The Dispatch
1988 – Wayne V. Harsha, a founding member of the chapter, and Pat Schmucki, past chapter president
1986 – Tim Puet, Associated Press and chapter board member
1982 – David Lore, past chapter president and national convention chairman
1980 – Ernest Cady, retired Dispatch book editor and first president of the chapter
1978 – Arthur W. Myers, assistant manager at Battelle Memorial Institute
1977 – Jim Hunkler, director of public relations for Battelle and past chapter president
1974 – Macy M. ”Boots” Carothers, longtime editor of the Ohio American Legion newspaper

Other winners:
Noreen Johnson, the first woman to serve as a director and chapter officer (year not known)

This award is presented to individuals or organizations for their outstanding contributions to journalism in central Ohio.

2023 – Andy Chow, Statehouse News Bureau; Theodore Drecker, The Columbus Dispatch
2022 – Columbus Alive staff; Julie Fulton, former librarian and researcher with The Columbus Dispatch
2021 – Joe Blundo, The Columbus Dispatch; Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch; Doug Haddix, former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors; and The Ohio Department of Health
2019 – Eugene C. “Gene” D’Angelo, former general manager, WBNS-10TV; and Dennis Hetzel, former executive director, Ohio News Media Association
2018 – Todd Jones, former sports reporter/columnist, The Columbus Dispatch
2017 – Dominic Cappa and Carol Ann Lease
2016 – Ben Marrison, editor of The Columbus Dispatch from 1999-2015
2015 – John Long, co-founder and executive director, Main Street Press Museum
2014 – David Marburger, Baker Hostetler
2013 – Tom Griesdorn, WBNS-10TV, and Bill Cohen, Ohio Public Radio and Television
2012 – Sharon West, Ohio State University
2011 – Frank Deaner, Ohio Newspaper Association, past board member
2010 – Jim Toms, former publisher at Suburban News Publications
2009 – Kirk Arnott, Columbus Dispatch, and Dom Cappa, Business First
2008 – Danny Russell, former editor of The Other Paper
2007 – Joe McKnight, Associated Press (retired) and past chapter president
2006 – Robert Ruth, The Columbus Dispatch
2005 – Anne Maher, Suburban News Publications
2004 – Lee Leonard, The Columbus Dispatch
2003 – Dave Richter, retired OSU journalism professor and SPJ board member
2002 – Michael F. Curtin, president and associate publisher of The Columbus Dispatch
2001 – Bruce Cadwallader, national convention chairman
2000 – Mike Mahoney and American Electric Power
1999 – Don Lambert, Ohio University journalism professor
1998 – Ralph Izard, retired director of the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University
1997 – Jerry Revish, WBNS-TV news anchor
1996 – Bob Smith, retired Dispatch editor
1995 – Joe Meyer, Suburban News Publications
1994 – Mary McGarey, longtime chapter and board member
1993 – Jim Underwood, former Plain Dealer bureau chief
1992 – Bill Cohen, Ohio Public Radio/Television
1991 – Martin Yant, The Dispatch
1990 – Thomas M. Forsythe, publisher of Suburban News Publications
1988 – Dick Otte, Dispatch managing editor
1986 – John J. Clarke, Ohio State University journalism professor
1979 – C. William O’Neill, chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court

Other winners:
Benson Wolman of the American Civil Liberties Union (year unknown)

Started in 2001, this dubious distinction is presented to the individual or organization that, according to chapter members, did the most to block citizen access to public records and proceedings or otherwise violated the spirit of the First Amendment or the Ohio Open Records and Open Meetings laws during the past year. Anyone is eligible, but special consideration will be given to public officials and tax-funded agencies that fail to follow the law.

2023 – Ohio National Guard Adjutant General John C. Harris Jr., Ohio State Highway Patrol, East Palestine Police Dept., Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office for detaining and arresting a reporter at a press conference.
2022 – Ohio Redistricting Commission, for violating the spirit of the First Amendment for many attempts to flout the public’s right to know about the legislative and congressional map-making process.
2021 – FirstEnergy Corp, for its role at the center of a bribery scheme that has implicated several prominent Ohio politicians.
2019 – The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), for inflation of enrollment data and overcharging the state for taxpayer money
2018 – The Columbus Board of Education, for its secrecy in conducting a search for a new superintendent in 2017-18, abandoned when decisions made in closed meetings in violation of Ohio Open Meetings law came to light in spring 2018
2017 – The Ohio State University, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi
2016 – The faculty of Ohio Wesylan University, who voted 48-21 on April 18, 2016 to ban journalists from covering their faculty meetings. The meetings long were open and covered by local media and the student press at OWU.
2015 – Ohio Rep. Jim Buchy (Greenville), primary sponsor of House Bill 663, called “Ohio’s Secret Execution Bill.”
2014 – Columbus City Schools for its attempt to shield the press and public from its data-scrubbing scandal and its use of “policy governance” to keep staff and board members from speaking freely to the press and public.
2013 – JobsOhio, which has been a challenge for reporters and a target for critics who feel it’s the black hole of state government, with state money going toward it without public knowledge or real transparency.
2012 – No award
2011 – No award
2010 – Ohio University, which failed to open meetings of its Budget Planning Council – which recommends how to spend tax and tuition dollars – despite an ongoing campaign by The Post, the campus’ independent student newspaper.
2009 – Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education
2008 – Ohio Department of Education
2007 – Ohio Supreme Court justices Paul Pfeifer, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Terrence O’Donnell, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Alice Robie Resnick
2006 – The Ohio Supreme Court for a series of decisions which weakened Ohio’s Open Records law. Particularly onerous was the court’s decision to recognize “executive privilege” for the Ohio governor’s office in Dann v. Taft. This exception is not in the state’s Open Records statutes or the Ohio Constitution. In other record-shielding decisions, the court has blocked newspaper access to photographs of police officers and to the home addresses of state employees — both longstanding public documents.
2005 – Sen. Larry Mumper, R, Marion: Sponsored “Academic Bill of Rights” to limit what professors can say in the classroom; Jacqueline Piar, superintendent of Northridge Local Schools: Dismissed the high school principal and sent public records out of the county to shield them from view and asked the Licking County sheriff to drop a criminal investigation.
2004 – Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Robert S. Tongren: Destroyed a $579,000 consultants’ report to hide it from public scrutiny
2003 – Village of New Rome: Refused to provide documents showing how money was spent or how some officials came to occupy their offices
2002 – The Ohio Historical Society: Refused to follow Ohio laws regarding open meetings or public records, even though it received 75 percent of its annual funding from taxpayers; kept executive salaries secret
2001 – Judge Thomas E. Louden of Delaware County Juvenile Court: Sued by The Columbus Dispatch when he improperly closed a detention hearing and posted deputy sheriffs at the doors of the Delaware County Courthouse to keep the media out of the building)

Started in 2011, The Martys is an editorial contest for Central Ohio’s high school journalists presented by the Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists and sponsored by the Dispatch Media Group. It is named after and conducted to honor the late Martin L. Rozenman, longtime editor of Suburban News Publications, Columbus Dispatch reporter, and board member of Central Ohio SPJ. Winners are chosen in five categories – best feature, news, opinion and sports writing and photography. From among the five category winners, an overall Best of Show winner is chosen as the top award winner, The Marty. That student is honored at Central Ohio SPJ’s annual spring Founders’ Day banquet.

Previous recipients of The Marty award include:
2018 – Dylan Carlson Sirvent and Sophie Yang of Upper Arlington High School, for their Best Feature Writing category-winning article, “Stressed for Success.”
2017 – Clare Proctor 
of Dublin Coffman High School, for “After the Attack,” her story about a student whose family survived an attack in Iraq in 2005 and moved to the United States. ThisWeek Community News story on all the 2017 winners
2016 – Aaron Rothchild and Grace Maley of Bexley High School, for their Best Feature Writing category winner published in The Torch student newspaper, “Living Their Truths.” ThisWeek article on all the 2016 winners
2015 – Miriam Alghothani and Becina Ganther of Upper Arlington High School, for their co-written “Brain Game” story on student athlete concussions. ThisWeek article on all the 2015 winners
2014 – Lily Wiest of Delaware Hayes High School, for her news story, “Beehive buzzes no more,” that examined the closing of a local bookstore and how locally owned versus chain-owned stores are faring in downtown Delaware. ThisWeek article on all the 2014 winners
2013 – Matias Grotewold, Patty Huntley and Cassie Lowery of Upper Arlington High School, for their story, “Pills for Perfection.” Display of all 2013’s winning student entries; ThisWeek story on the 2013 winners
2012 – Cassie Lowery and Olivia Miltner, Upper Arlington High School. Article on all the 2012 winners
2011 – Sophie Shemas, Dublin Coffman High School. Columbus Monthly article on all the 2011 winners