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SPJ Honors Marcel Dufresne with 2002 Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award


Bobby Deckard,
SPJ Awards Coordinator, 317/927-8000 ext. 215 or bdeckard@spj.org

Indianapolis – Marcel Dufresne of the University of Connecticut has received the Society of Professional Journalists’ Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award.

Dufresne is an associate professor at the University of Connecticut where he was teaching the fundamentals of online research and computer-assisted reporting in the mid-1990s, years before many news organizations even had Web sites. While an adviser to the student newspaper during the 1990s, he was tireless in providing late-night guidance on editorial and legal issues.

“Professor Dufresne has developed an admirable teaching specialty,” wrote Maureen Croteau, Journalism Department Head and professor at the University of Connecticut. “He teaches in-depth, investigative and computer-assisted reporting skills in the context of class projects.”

Dufresne designs projects that enable students to report and write on a public issue for publication. This past year, his students used computer-assisted reporting and old-fashioned footwork to produce a four-part, 11-story series concerning crime on the university’s campus. Dufresne guided students through database analysis of crime reports, spreadsheet analysis of police budgets, construction and administration of a statistically valid opinion poll, a security audit of dormitories, and traditional reporting. The series received several SPJ awards, including a regional Mark of Excellence Award for General News Reporting (Region 1) and two first place awards from the Connecticut SPJ Pro Chapter for Best In-Depth Series and Best Investigative Series. In previous semesters, his students have investigated the misuse of handicapped parking passes and worked with two Connecticut newspapers to construct a database of campaign contributions from paper filings.

“Dufresne’s passion for teaching, reporting and writing is contagious,” wrote Julie Flood, associate editor at the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn., and former student of Dufresne. “His enthusiasm is reflected in his students’ work and extends to his colleagues.”

Dufresne received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University, where he was in the Kiplinger Midcareer Program in Public Affairs Reporting. Dufresne worked for 15 years as a reporter or editor for many New England newspapers, including his last reporting job at The Day in New London, Conn. While working as a reporter, he also worked part-time as an adjunct instructor at the University of Rhode Island before joining the University of Connecticut’s Journalism Department in 1989.

Dufresne is co-author of an advanced reporting textbook, “Getting the Story: An Advanced Guide to Beats, Records and Sources.” His freelance articles have appeared in the Washington Journalism Review, Columbia Journalism Review, Newsday and The New York Times.

The SPJ Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award is presented annually to an outstanding journalism teacher who has made a significant contribution to the journalism profession and/or journalism education.

Students, former students, colleagues and department heads, as well as professionals in the field, make nominations for the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. Anyone teaching in the field of journalism is eligible.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


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