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SPJ selects Jill Martin, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor, for Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award


Lou Harry, SPJ Manager of Publications and Awards, lharry@hq.spj.org
Kim Tsuyuki, SPJ Communications Coordinator, ktsuyuki@hq.spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists has chosen Jill Martin as recipient of the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. Martin is an assistant professor at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Each year, SPJ honors an outstanding journalism educator and recognizes their exceptional teaching abilities and commitment to upholding the profession's highest standards. Martin won this year with detailed letters from faculty and current students that demonstrates her extensive background and commitment to connecting students to real-world learning initiatives.

“The committee chose Jill Martin because of her demonstrated ability to develop students using numerous innovative and experiential learning opportunities that offer the practical real-world experience that is invaluable not only for students, but also for early-career professional journalists,” said SPJ Journalism Education Committee Chair Bey-Ling Sha. “As one example, Professor Martin’s students supplement local news outlets through the Nebraska News Service, offering a statewide wire service of entirely student-produced reportage on politics, education and other beats that matter to Nebraskans.”

Martin joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018 and has since established new hands-on learning experiences for her students. With over two decades of experience in newspapers and broadcast news in Nebraska, she used her extensive background to launch the Experience Lab, in 2021 with her colleague Jemalyn Griffin, and help grow the Nebraska News Service. The lab provides students an opportunity to gain hands-on learning experiences in all aspects of a newsroom.

“Jill understands that applied expertise is critical in our rapidly changing professions and has created the Experience Lab as a space that provides the valuable opportunity for students to experiment, play, fail and fall in love with media,” said Shari R. Veil, professor and dean at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “Students develop both their professional skills and their ability to be nimble while preparing for their future careers”

Martin also mentors students through the Nebraska News Service. As credentialed state house reporters, there are more student journalists covering the legislature than there are reporters from any other news organizations in Nebraska. These stories reach more than 100 clients, and in 2022, students published a record-breaking 500 stories.

To her students, Martin has been a dedicated mentor and creates a nurturing and inclusive learning environment. Furthermore, her door is always open, giving students guidance in their job search and assisting them with opportunities to learn in environments beyond the classroom.

“As a senior in my final semester of college, I had been looking for jobs in my first television news market. I remember this being a stressful time, but with Jill’s help, I felt like I had some guidance on how to go about my job search,” said University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Jill Lamkins. “She helped me prepare for interviews, looked over my newsreel, and was always eager to answer the annoying amount of Microsoft team’s direct messages I would leave her asking for advice. No matter what I needed, Jill was there to help.”

“Professor Martin's dedication to her students is truly remarkable. She consistently reaches above and beyond to provide guidance and mentorship, both inside and outside the classroom,” said University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Macy Neumeister.

Martin will be recognized at the Collegiate Excellence Awards at SPJ23 Journalism Convention in Las Vegas, Sept. 29.

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. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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