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E.A. Nickerson Award

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Honoring the highest standards of journalism

​The E.A. Nickerson Award of $300, established in 1990 through gifts from E.A. Nickerson and others who wished to contribute to the award in his name, is given to the student who, in the opinion of the journalism faculty, has exhibited the highest standards of journalism. The top two editors of The Review are ineligible.

If you'd like to be considered for the award, or would like to nominate a student, send your nomination to journalism@udel.edu. Please put "Nickerson award nominee" in the subject line. Nominations should explain how the student practices high journalistic standards and provide specific examples and links where warranted. If you have any questions, please direct them to Dr. Deborah Gump, journalism program director, at dgump@udel.edu.

'Knowledge better than ignorance, openness better than secrecy'
Edward Nickerson

​Edward "Nick" Nickerson was known for his "boos" and "bouquets," notes to students that offered guidance and support.

​Edward "Nick" Nickerson is one of the founding fathers of UD's journalism program.

Nickerson arrived on campus in 1970 as a lecturer in the Department of English.

"That was a big deal to me," he told a reporter from The Review when he retired in 1991, "until I found out that's what they made people who hadn't finished their dissertations."

So finish it he did, and in 1973, led by Nickerson and fueled in part by the Watergate hearings, journalism became a concentration. The program became a minor in 2007.

Nickerson knew he was headed for a journalism career. He started as a freshman, working on his college paper at Dartmouth. But when World War II erupted, he had to put journalism, and his college education, on hold.

He told The Review reporter that at 18, he successfully enlisted in the U.S. Army thanks to some legerdemain, a little slight of hand at the weight scales. ​He was 6 feet tall, and on the slight side, he said, which meant he might not meet the weight guideline. So he stooped enough to be measured at "5-9 and a quarter"; at that height, his 129 pounds were good enough.

Then came the mountains of Italy
Nickerson battle

​A Review story on Edward Nickerson's war experiences was part of a Veterans Day package in 1991.

Nickerson was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, which saw combat in World War II for only four months, but its casualty count was among the highest.

Nickerson arrived in Italy with a unit of 42 men. He was one of only two to survive.

As he told UD professor McKay Jenkins in "The Last Ridge: The Epic Story of America's First Mountain Soldiers," no amount of training can prepare a soldier for the battlefield:

"Many men will remember their first hours in combat more clearly than anything that happens for the rest of their days, especially if this moment comes at night. Mine came at the top of a mountain, amid dark pine trees and patches of snow blackened by explosives and reeking sharply of cordite. Cordite is a stench I had never smelled before and have smelled rarely since, and I actually confused it, in my extraordinary ignorance, with the smell of dead bodies. There were also a few dead Germans in slit trenches, but their characteristic smell - of sweaty leather belts and other leather gear, and heavy, unwashed, woolen uniforms - must have been overwhelmed by the stink of cordite. In the cold, they did not smell of decomposition that first night. It's the cordite I remember, strange and penetrating and frightening."

Despite such horrors, years later Nickerson told The Review that everyone who served "felt we had to do something to make (WWII) the last big war."

After the war, he returned to Dartmouth, finished his degree and eventually went to work for the Associated Press in Baltimore. Editing his co-workers stories made him realize that what he really wanted to do was teach, he told The Review.

In a farewell column in The Review, Nickerson wrote that "despite all the flaws of journalism, printing the news is worthwhile, for the simple reason that knowledge is better than ignorance, openness better than secrecy and light better than darkness."

As Nickerson often said, "Keep the faith."


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  • The Journalism Program
  • 207 Memorial Hall
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • 302-831-3870
  • journalism@udel.edu