Columbia Scholastic Press Association
Phone: (212) 854-9400
CSPA is affiliated with the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in the City of New York.
James F. Paschal Award
Steve O'Donoghue - 2008
What happens to journalism education in high schools when there is no surviving and thriving statewide press association to help train, orient and support journalism teachers and advisers? For California, the answer may well be Steve O’Donoghue.
As O’Donoghue described the reality of the past decade in California: “I had seen scholastic journalism programs shrink in the schools and traditional organizations that had supported advisers and students shrivel up. The world of scholastic journalism that had embraced me when I was a new teacher assigned to a subject I had no training or preparation in was gone. But at the same time I knew there was a greater awareness of the struggles of journalism in the schools on the part of the profession, and more resources to train and assist advisers than ever before.”
Having taught for 33 years in Oakland, California, primarily at Fremont High School, O’Donoghue was well versed in the challenges of teaching at a large urban high school with a predominantly minority student body. In 1985, he founded the Media Academy at Fremont, a school within a school program that ultimately became a small school. Over the years, he advised yearbook, newspaper and magazine, taught photography, desktop publishing and both beginning and advanced journalism courses.
He served on the board of the JEA of Northern California for eight years, coordinating two state conventions and the last locally produced San Francisco convention with national JEA. He helped establish and served as the first chair of the JEA’s Multicultural Commission. In 1998 he established the High School Newspaper Support Program for the Bay Area using short-term grant money.
He has received the CSPA’ Gold Key, the JEA’s Medal of Merit and the NSPA’s Pioneer Award. He was named the State High School Journalism Teacher of the Year by the California Newspaper Publishers Association in 1989 and the National High School Journalism Teacher of the year in 1990 by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund.
After retirement from classroom teaching in 2004, he worked at the Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University, his alma mater. To meet the challenges he found in reviving and strengthening high school journalism teaching and advising, he persuaded a local funder to provide the grant to establish the California Scholastic Journalism Initiative. The mentoring program developed there with Nick Ferentinos became the model for the mentoring program recently launched by the national Journalism Education Association.
Several California advisers, who know and appreciate his work, say this about him. Bernadette Tucker at Rancho Cotate High School says this about O’Donoghue: “He is tireless. It’s a little disconcerting, actually, but in a way that’s awe-inspiring. I have never had a conversation with him in which he’s discouraged about scholastic journalism. No matter what the situation, he’s looking for a method by which to improve the lives of all journalism advisers and students. . . .[CSJI] is an incredibly important effort, one that requires tying all sorts of people and programs into one another. But he’s doing it. And I’m not surprised really, because if there’s a way, there’s Steve. He’ll find it. He’ll find the money for it. He’ll find the person for it. You can’t hide from him. That’s why I call him California’s Godfather of Journalism.”
From Paul Kandell of Palo Alto High School:
“Among his many coups with CSJI, Steve organized a meeting with the Dean of Admission for the University of California system; the meeting led in turn to the breakthrough that got the national’s largest and arguably most-influential public university system to break with its tradition by granting elective credit to high school journalism production courses. A year later, we met again to push for the next in the holy grail---English credit. . . .Steve deservedly developed his reputation as a master networker, a kind of human clearinghouse for all things connected to scholastic journalism. . . .As tattered as the state’s scholastic journalism community sometimes seems, it would undoubtedly be far, far worse without Steve.”
And Tracy Anne Sena from Convent of the Sacred Heart School in San Francisco described how her students joined other California student newspaper staffs at a day-long press event in Sacramento when Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation changing the foods available in California’s public schools. “For many of our students,” she says, “this was the first time they realized they could attend press events and it encouraged them to register as media for events in their local communities. [It was a direct result from] Steve finding funding to encourage high school journalists to tackle the obesity epidemic. . .” Sena also adds: “In short, Steve O’Donoghue is the godfather of California scholastic journalism –like many journalism teachers up and down the state—I am indebted for the opportunities that he has given my students to grow as journalists and for me to grow professionally.”
For his tireless promotion of scholastic journalism in California, and especially for his efforts to create and sustain new ways of training a new generation of that state’s journalism teachers and advisers, the Columbia Scholastic Press Advisers Association is proud to present Steve O’Donoghue with the James F. Paschal Award for Outstanding Service.
This citation was written and presented by Edmund J. Sullivan, executive director of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, on March 21, 2008 at Columbia University in the City of New York.
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CSPA is an international student press association, founded in 1925, whose goal is to unite student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges, textbooks, critiques and award programs.