Dean Ceppos named fellow of Society of Professional Journalists for extraordinary contributions to journalism


photo: cepposJerry Ceppos, dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication, Monday was named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists. It is the society’s highest professional honor, recognizing those who have made an “extraordinary contribution to the profession.”


“With a 45-year career of accomplishments under his belt, Ceppos has been an advocate for the industry, from educating students on journalism ethics to fighting for diversity in the newsroom,” the society said in its announcement.


As an SPJ fellow, Ceppos joins an impressive list of celebrated and influential journalists. Previous honorees have included Walter Lippmann, Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite. Katharine Graham, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee.


Ceppos became dean at the Manship School in 2011 after serving in the same capacity at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Earlier, he was vice president for news of Knight Ridder, then the nation’s second-largest newspaper company. Knight Ridder owned the San Jose Mercury News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star and 28 other daily newspapers.
Before assuming his corporate role, Ceppos was executive editor and senior vice president of the San Jose newspaper and worked at the Miami Herald. He began his career at the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle.


Ceppos was one of three people to win the society’s first Ethics in Journalism award, in 1997, for acknowledging flaws in a Mercury News series. He has been active in journalism education, serving on the council that accredits journalism schools for 25 years, six of those as president. He is a former president of the Associated Press Managing Editors, a national group, and of the California Society of Newspaper Editors.
Ceppos will receive the award at the society’s Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans in September.


Two others will be recognized as fellows of the society at the same time. They are:


  • Laura Prather, who has dedicated her career to advocating for protections in the law for the freedom of speech for journalists. Recognized as one of the top 45 women attorneys in the nation by Texas Lawyer magazine, Prather focuses her practice on First Amendment, intellectual property and media and entertainment litigation and appeals.
  • Don Van Natta Jr., who has been an investigative reporter for nearly 28 years, including his current position as senior investigative reporter for “ESPN The Magazine.” He also was an investigative correspondent for The New York Times. While at the The Times, he covered a wide range of stories, including the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and the 9/11 attacks. He also served as the newspaper’s first investigative correspondent based in a foreign bureau.


The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information through almost 7,500 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.