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New York Times Reporter To Accept First Amendment Award

Ron Nixon

Ron Nixon, recipient of First Amendment Award

St. Cloud, Minn. --  Nationally prominent journalistic watchdog and mentor Ron Nixon has been chosen as the 22nd recipient of the Defense of the First Amendment Award by the faculty of the Department of Mass Communications at St. Cloud State University.

Nixon, currently a New York Times correspondent in Washington, D.C., will accept the 2012 award April 13 at the First Amendment Forum sponsored by the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the SCSU Department of Mass Communications.    

The day-long Forum focusing on computer-assisted journalism then and now is called “Ramped-Up Journalism:  Computer-Assisted Reporting for a New Generation.”   The event is scheduled at the Atwood Memorial Center Little Theatre.

“Ron has made a crucial difference in the careers of countless journalists,” according to Ron Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reports & Editors and a journalism professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “As a former IRE training director and longtime volunteer, Ron has reached thousands of journalists through the training sessions he has led. He is a mentor to many IRE members, from college students to young professionals, always willing to give his time and share his expertise.”

Nixon joined the Times in 2005 and was first assigned to the Business and Financial desk. He joined the Washington Bureau in 2007.

At the Times he has written or co-written investigations into the Small Business Administration, congressional earmarks, companies doing business in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions and lobbying by foreign governments. Before joining the Times, he worked for the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the paper¹s investigative team. Nixon was computer assisted reporting editor and co-wrote an investigation into the shadow banking industry, check cashing outlets, payday lenders and subprime mortgage lenders. The series was honored with the Minnesota SPJ Page One Award for Investigative Reporting and several national awards.  Nixon is from north Minneapolis.

Nixon worked for Investigative Reporters and Editors as training director from 2000 to 2003. While at IRE he provided training in investigative and computer assisted reporting techniques for hundreds of journalists in the U.S. and countries such as United Kingdom, Senegal, Chad, Canada, Nigeria and South Africa. 

Before IRE he was an investigative reporter for the Roanoke Times in Virginia for four years. While at the Roanoke Times he authored investigations into the federal black lung disability program, thestate¹s logging industry and its impact on the environment and the state of Virginia hiding data from the public that disclosed widespread pollution.

“The time was ripe to recognize Ron Nixon’s indefatigable journalism on behalf of an informed citizenry,” said Forum Coordinator Michael Vadnie, “and this year’s topic fits Ron Nixon’s desire to share what he knows with future journalists and communicators.” 

The Defense of the First Amendment Award recipient is selected by the faculty of the SCSU Department of Mass Communications to honor a person with Minnesota connections who has exemplified “staunch defense of the First Amendment and its ideals.” 

Additional First Amendment Forum sponsors are the Minnesota Newspaper Association, SCSU College of Liberal Arts, the national Society of Professional Journalists, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Upper Midwest Chapter and the St. Cloud Times.

For more information about Nixon, the award or the First Amendment Forum, kindly contact SPJ Forum coordinator Michael Vadnie at 320-308-2126 or 

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