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Home > SPJ News > SPJ selects Amara Aguilar, University of Southern California professor, for Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award

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SPJ selects Amara Aguilar, University of Southern California professor, for Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award


Lou Harry, SPJ Manager of Publications and Awards, 317-920-4786,
Ashlynn Neumeyer, Communications Coordinator, 317-361-4133,

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has chosen Amara Aguilar as recipient of the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. Aguilar is a professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

In 2017, Aguilar and her colleagues identified an opportunity to better engage USC’s Latinx student community. This led to the creation of Dímelo, USC’s first Latinx-focused student news team. In its first few years, Dímelo launched a partnership with Snapchat, supported an immersive learning program covering the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, allowed for new publishing opportunities with the school’s local ABC affiliate and helped start a new cross-college Latinx studies minor.

Aguilar also designed new curricula focused on utilizing community zines to support audience engagement and hyperlocal, diverse storytelling. This project was embraced by students, supported by one of the school’s most innovative local news platforms, L.A. Taco, and awarded an Online News Association Journalism Education Challenge Fund.

She works with the Annenberg Youth Academy and Journalism Association of Community Colleges, in addition to the Journalism Education Association and its Southern California chapter, to speak to high school students, conduct workshops, interview scholarship applicants and judge contests. She also works with the Annenberg Cross Cultural Student Association and has previously advised student publications at Pierce and Saddleback Colleges.

She was selected as a USC Center for Excellence in Teaching Fellow and recognized by both the Tow-Knight Center as a Disruptive Educator of the year and Apple as a recipient of its Distinguished Educator award. In 2018, she was also named MediaShift’s top innovative educator.

These accomplishments stand alongside her work mentoring dozens of students, from the elementary level to college, helping them toward careers in news organizations. Aguilar continues to support youth programs, such as the Las Fotos Project, because she is strongly committed to her students and to ensuring a better and more equitable future for journalism.

Aguilar will be recognized virtually during the SPJ21 conference.

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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