News Release

First Amendment Forum

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ron Nixon, investigative journalist and recipient of the 2012 Defense of the First Amendment Award

Ron Nixon, investigative journalist and recipient of the 2012 Defense of the First Amendment Award .

Ron Nixon, a watchdog journalist and New York Times correspondent, will be honored with the 2012 Defense of the First Amendment Award April 13 at the First Amendment Forum in the Atwood Memorial Center Theatre

The day-long forum will focus on the evolution of computer-assisted journalism. The forum, which is titled “Ramped-Up Journalism: Computer-Assisted Reporting for a New Generation,” is free and open to the public. View the schedule (PDF).    

The award recipient is selected by Department of Mass Communications faculty. It honors a person with Minnesota connections who exemplifies defense of the First Amendment and its ideals.

Nixon has written and co-written investigations into companies violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. Other investigation targets include the Small Business Administration, congressional earmarks and lobbying by foreign governments. View an archive of Nixon's recent stories.

A Minneapolis native, Nixon worked for the Minneapolis Star Tribune's investigative team. He served as computer-assisted reporting editor and co-wrote an investigation into the shadow banking industry, check cashing outlets, predatory payday lending and subprime mortgage lending. The series was honored by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists with its Page One Award for Investigative Reporting.

Nixon also was an investigative reporter for the Roanoke Times in Virginia. He authored investigations into the federal black lung disability program and the Virginia logging industry's impact on the environment. He also revealed the State of Virginia's failure to disclose widespread pollution.

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

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

The First Amendment Forum is sponsored by the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Department of Mass Communications. 

Additional sponsors include the Minnesota Newspaper Association, the university's College of Liberal Arts, the Society of Professional Journalists, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Upper Midwest Chapter and the St. Cloud Times.

For more information, contact Michael Vadnie at 320-308-2126.

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