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Dufresne Wins Journalism Teaching Award
By Karen A. Grava
Marcel P. Dufresne, associate professor of journalism, has been awarded the national Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Dufresne, who has worked as a reporter or editor at several New England newspapers, including the Providence Journal, The Day of New London and The Narragansett Times in Rhode Island, was selected for the award by the board of directors of the society.
The award, made annually, recognizes outstanding teaching ability, contributions to journalism education, and contributions toward maintaining the highest standards of the profession. It was announced at the society's annual convention in Fort Worth, Texas, last month.
"Professor Dufresne has made significant contributions to our department, our profession, and our students since joining the faculty in 1989," said Maureen Croteau, professor and head of the journalism department.
Croteau said she nominated Dufresne not only because of the success of his classroom projects, but also because Dufresne has been active professionally, and helped his students pass not only the "editor test" of publication skills, but also the "academic test" worthy of a Research I university.
Two of the student projects were also presented in the spring at the Honors Program's Frontiers of Undergraduate Research, the university's showcase for undergraduate student research. The work is among the few presentations made by non-science students.
"The teachers I remember most were those who first helped me get published and got me thinking about what journalism can be and the impact it can have when it's done right," said Dufresne. "My greatest satisfaction as a teacher comes from working closely with students to produce journalism at a professional level and helping them get it into print so they can see the impact."
Dufresne teaches in-depth, investigative and computer-assisted reporting skills and guides his classes through hands-on projects.
One project, an in-depth, four-part, 11-story series last spring investigating crime on the UConn campus, was published in newspapers around the state and in the University's student newspaper, the Daily Campus. It won two first-place awards from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, and the Mark of Excellence Award for General News Reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, among other awards.
Previous projects have included investigating the misuse of handicapped parking passes, and the construction of a database of campaign contributions from paper filings in two high-profile races for the Connecticut General Assembly. Later, the database was used by a newspaper as the basis for a story about how political parties target major races.
Last spring, Dufresne team-taught with John Breen, an associate professor of journalism, a course in which students worked with Hartford Courant editors to produce commentary pieces about the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The pieces were published in May and distributed nationally by the L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service.
The co-author of an advanced reporting textbook, Getting the Story: An Advanced Reporting Guide to Beats, Records and Sources, Dufresne also writes for the Columbia Journalism Review and the American Journalism Review. In addition, he was a member of the Connecticut Media Access Task Force, a seven-member committee representing the Connecticut news media that worked to improve access to law enforcement information and crime scenes.