Written by Joan Kostiuk Friday, April 11, 2014 12:03 pm
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TRENTON – With a lifetime of experience in journalism, Jacob Schaad Jr., 92, of Del Haven in Cape May County has turned the spotlight on many people – be they criminals, politicians, celebrities or everyday heroes.
He started as a copy boy at the Paterson Evening News in 1939 and moved up to writing, staying at the Evening News for 30 years. As a reporter on the courts beat in the ’50s and ’60s, Schaad was in the thick of some high-profile cases and interviewed a number of celebrity plaintiffs and defendants.
When he served his country in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he helped start a newsletter for the soldiers. That job had him brushing shoulders with Bob Hope and other big stars of the time who performed for the troops at the famed Hollywood Canteen.
Over his career he has conversed with the likes of Harry Truman, Robert Ludlum, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and many others.
Today, he is still an active reporter, writing weekly history columns and covering music and the theater for The Current and Gazette Newspapers. He is one of the oldest working reporters in the United States.
On Thursday, April 10, Schaad stepped into the spotlight himself when the New Jersey Press Association recognized him for 75 years of dedication to journalism.
An the organization’s annual Better Newspapers Contest awards banquet at the Hamilton Manor in Trenton, Schaad brought down the house, standing at the front of the room as hundreds of his peers gave him a prolonged standing ovation to show their appreciation for his contributions to the profession.
NJPA Executive Director George White talked about Schaad’s long career and thanked him for being an inspiration to other journalists. Schaad took the microphone and gave a brief and witty speech thanking the crowd, showing that his tongue is still as sharp as his pen.
Schaad’s story was brought to the attention of NJPA officials after his co-worker, Christie Rotondo of Little Egg Harbor, wrote a story about him that appeared last year in the Wildwood Leader. The story, “Veteran reporter to celebrate 74 years in print,” and another, "Local GOP courting women candidates,” won Rotondo an NJPA first-place Robert P. Kelly award, which is given to outstanding first-year journalists. The circulation group was weekly newspapers with a circulation of less than 6,500.
The Current and Gazette Newspapers received three other awards in the Better Newspaper Contest.
Columnist Joe Wilkins of the Smithville section of Galloway won a first-place award among weeklies with a circulation of more than 6,500 for his column “Joe's Take.” The winning columns were titled “An Orthodox Passover at the country club” and “The heartfelt prayers of the candle lighters.”
Editorial assistant Mandee McCullough of Brigantine won a second-place Innovation Award for her Pets webpage at pets.shorenewstoday.com, also in the weekly over 6,500 circulation group. The page features pets and animals in the news, adoptions, lost and found, pet care tips and other stories.
Staff writer Laura Stetser of Egg Harbor Township, who writes for The Current of Egg Harbor Township, won second place in Education Writing for weekly newspapers with more than 6,500 circulation for her series on the school district’s new STEM initiative, which promotes science, technology, education and math across the curriculum. See "New STEM initiative at Egg Harbor Township schools aims to keep lessons relevant" and related stories.