Chris Roberts, Ph.D., won the Dorothy Bowles Award for Outstanding Public Service from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). The award honors his work with the AEJMC election committee and the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) ethics committee.  

He is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media and head of the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ Office of Research in Media Integrity. 

AEJMC’s Standing Committee on Professional Freedom & Responsibility’s annual award recognizes a member who has a sustained and significant public-service record that has helped build bridges between academics and professionals in mass communication, either nationally or locally, and who has been actively engaged within the association. Roberts has achieved this on many accounts.  

“I was a journalist since my teens and didn’t join academia until my 40s,” Roberts said. “I’m grateful for the recognition for what I’ve tried to do to help the academy while also helping journalists do their jobs ethically and showing the public what good journalism is.” 

For his work with SPJ, Roberts and his graduate students worked on updating hundreds of links that explain its ethics code. The links had gone untouched since 2015, a year after Roberts and others on SPJ’s ethics committee wrote what some call the “gold standard” of journalism ethics codes. 

For two semesters in his Contemporary Issues in Journalism course, students wrote papers showing that they understood their assigned portion of the code. They then searched for newer, better examples and explanations of their assigned part of the code. Their work was the foundation for the SPJ Ethics Committee’s update to the links, which went live in Spring 2024.  

Roberts also was honored by AEJMC for his service to that organization, which represents thousands of college media educators worldwide. He is currently serving his second term on the AEJMC’s Elected Standing Committee on Teaching. 

 He has held many positions within AEJMC, including head of the Council of Divisions that represents nearly 30 divisions and interest groups. While serving, he wrote software to end what had been a process requiring dozens of people nationwide to attend a meeting to create programming for annual conferences. 

Roberts’ online program ended that inefficiency and has saved thousands of dollars in travel for the leaders, especially international members. Roberts’s software has leveled the playing field by making the decision-making process simpler and more efficient for members. 

The Dorothy Bowles award will be presented during AEJMC’s Philadelphia conference in August.