According to contest judges, Jones earned this recognition through his journalistic pursuit of compelling arguments for criminal justice reforms that promoted healthy public debates and civic culture. Through his writing, he searched for a better, more evenhanded criminal-justice system in Texas. Most notably, Jones took a stand opposing the death penalty in Texas by arguing with clarity and eloquence the unconstitutional execution of a person with a diminished IQ and the lack of evidence provided to juries.
"First, I am flattered by the award, because it is nice to be recognized by an organization like the Association of Opinion Journalists,” said Jones. “I am also pleased that this is in response to a line of commentary that our editorial page set as a priority when we came out in opposition to the death penalty in 2007."
Working with the Morning News for more than 19 years, Jones has served as both reporter and editor, exploring issues in transportation, education, state legislature, criminal justice and the arts. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University in 1975.
“This is the first such individual honor won by a Morning News editorial writer and we are honored to have Rodger receive this national recognition from the Association of Opinion Journalists,” said Keven Ann Willey, vice president and editorial page editor at The Dallas Morning News. “Rodger exemplifies great dedication in pursuing arguments and views for various social issues. He goes above and beyond in promoting conversations that affect our civic culture and communities.”
Each year, the AOJ recognizes the achievements of two opinion journalists. Judging is based on clarity, strength of writing, creativity and impact on public policy, and quality of life that each journalist presents in their work. One journalist is recognized from the 100,000 and more circulation and the other from the 100,000 and under circulation category.
Jones will receive the National Opinion Journalist of the Year award at the Association of Opinion Journalists annual conference held from Oct. 13 to 15 in Newport, Rhode Island.
The AOJ is a professional organization dedicated to improving the quality of opinion journalism and public debate through professional development, education and the exploration of issues that are important to the public. AOJ was originally founded in 1947 as The National Conference of Editorial Writers and is the only national organization that incorporates all forms of newspaper opinion, not just columns.
In 2011, the AOJ named the Morning News as Opinion Page of the Year by recognizing all editorial pages as the best in the nation in the 100,000 and more circulation category.
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