Meeting Minutes: Dec. 7, 2015

SPJ/LA Board Meeting Minutes

Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, 7 p.m.

Louise’s Trattoria

10645 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

Joel Bellman, Stephanie Bluestein, Dan Evans, Dick Hendrickson, Elizabeth Marcellino, Navid Nonahal, Richard Saxton, John Schwada, Lori Streifler, Robi Wax, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.

I.               MINUTES.

Windsor moved to approve the minutes. Bluestein seconded. Motion carried.

Nonahal reported that SPJ/LA chapter members have seriously declined in recent years, falling to around 179 from more than 200 a few years ago. That decrease became apparent after SPJ National updated its membership tracking system. Nonahal asked the board for feedback on the idea of eliminating the local membership dues. After an extended discussion, Nonahal said membership will be a topic of the January retreat.

Hendrickson presented the monthly treasurer’s report. He noted that  SPJ/LA did not break even on the holiday party this year, resulting in a loss of $184.01. Streifler pointed out that the party was held on a night when many journalists were assigned to the San Bernardino terror attacks.


a.     Awards – Marcellino concluded the unfinished business from last month – recognizing Don Barrett, publisher of, at this year’s SPJ awards dinner. The choice of Barrett was made in an online vote since the last meeting. Marcellino said the news release would be finished once Barrett’s bio is available.

b.     Banquet – No report.

c.      Courts – No report.

d.     Diversity – No report.

e.     Ethics – No report.

f.      FOI – No report.

g.     Generation J – No report.

h.     Membership – See above.

i.       Nominations – Board members discussed the ongoing search for candidates to seek positions on the board. Bellman said Sarah Favot, who covers county government for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, had agreed to throw her hat in the ring.

j.       Scholarships – No report.

V.              OLD BUSINESS.
Nonahal said Mottek put together a great holiday party, which drew in nearly 25 people and was held at a new venue – Shanghai Grill. Board members praised the food and said the restaurant’s management seemed to be happy to have the group there.

VI.            NEW BUSINESS.
Nonahal said Claudia Peschiutta proposed the idea of a panel discussion on media coverage of the recent San Bernardino terror attacks. Nonahal sought feedback on whether such an event could be staged later in December.

Bellman said that was too tight a timeline given the holidays, and other board members echoed that view. Nonahal said such an event would be pursued in the new year.

VII.          NEXT BOARD MEETING. Roberta Wax residence, 9430 Wish Ave., Northridge. Date to be determined.


Windsor moved, Evans seconded. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

David Zahniser

Meeting Minutes: Nov. 9, 2015

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, 7 p.m.

Louise’s Trattoria, 10645 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90064

Bellman, Bluestein, Evans, Fleeman, Hendrickson, Marcellino, Mottek, Nonahal, Seifer, Streifler, Wald, Walton, Wax, Windsor, Zahniser.

I.               MINUTES

Zahniser said the minutes would be revised to move a committee report that was erroneously placed under the wrong heading. Wald then moved to approve the minutes, Windsor seconded. Motion carried.

No report.

Hendrickson reported that as of Nov. 1, the chapter’s balance is $29,964. For the same period, the Morgan Stanley account was $69,304.81. Evans moved to accept the report, with Windsor seconding. Motion carried.


a.     Awards – Marcellino walked board members through each of the candidates for SPJ/LA’s Distinguished Journalist Awards. Deliberations and the casting of ballots followed. The winners were:

Print – Under 90,000 circulation: Frank Suraci, Daily Breeze
Print – More than 90,000 circulation: Steve Loeper, Associated Press

Television: David Ono, ABC7

Radio: Frank P. Mottek, KNX

Digital: Adrian Glick-Kudler, Curbed LA

FOI: Attorney Theodore Boutrous

Nonahal thanked the committee for their work. The board also agreed to conduct an online discussion in the upcoming days on a possible special recognition award to a veteran journalist.

b.     Banquet – No Report.

c.      Courts – No report.

d.     Diversity – Nonahal reported that Adolfo Flores continues to work on assembling a panel for a diversity program. Although he had hoped to have one ready for a November event, it’s now looking more like January.

e.     Ethics – No report.

f.      FOI –Zahniser reported on the Digging Data and Spreadsheet Survival Workshop. The event, held Nov. 7 at the Cal State, L.A. campus, had about a dozen participants and both of the instructors, Doug Smith of the Los Angeles Times and Ron Campbell from the Center for Health Reporting, were excellent. Although there were eight or nine cancellations in the final 72 hours before the event, having a smaller group was actually more helpful in terms of the logistics – getting each person to download the instructional materials on their laptops, etc.

g.     Generation J – Bluestein reported that last month’s Generation J event at Cal State, Northridge had more than 250 participants, the majority of them students. This was also the first year that the Los Angeles Times was involved in the event.

h.     Membership – Hendrickson reported that he and Windsor met to go over the membership list for SPJ/LA, comparing it with records for SPJ national’s membership and found major discrepancies. Nonahal said the membership roster is important, since board elections are coming up, and all of the voting will be carried out online. The chapter will send out an email asking people to check to make sure their membership is up to date.

i.       Nominations – Bellman reported the committee is working on putting together the ballots for the upcoming board elections. The committee has identified a new candidate in Sarah Favot, county government reporter for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group. Bellman promised to provide more details on board elections at SPJ/LA’s December board meeting.

j.       Scholarships – No report.

V.              OLD BUSINESS
Oct. 15 event recap – Fleeman reported that last month’s mixer, which featured a presentation on reaching millennial news consumers, went well.

Oct. 29 mixer recap – Walton said SPJ/LA’s combo mixer with the Los Angeles Press Club, which had the Halloween theme of scary stories from journalists, was a success. Claudia Peschiutta, who helped organize it, said she’d like to hold a similar event again next year.
VI.            NEW BUSINESS
Mottek reported that arrangements are 99% done for this year’s holiday party, which will be held Dec. 2 at the Shanghai Grill in Beverly Hills. Mottek said the restaurant is very down to earth and has a nice meeting room in the back. Work is underway on the press release for the event.

Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at Louise’s Trattoria, 10645 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.

VIII.          ADJOURNMENT – Bellman moved to adjourn, Marcellino seconded. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

David Zahniser

Meeting Minutes: Oct. 5, 2015

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting MinutesL: Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, 7 p.m.

Louise’s Trattoria, 10645 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

Stephanie Bluestein, Christina Cocca, Richard Hendrickson, Khalil Garriott, Elizabeth Marcellino, Navid Nonahal, Richard Saxton, Julia Seifer, Lori Streifler, Jeff Wald, Alice Walton, Robi Wax, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Cocca moves to approve the Sept. 8 minutes, Garriott seconds. Motion carries, with Wax abstaining.


Excellence in Journalism 2015: Nonahal reported that Garriott served as a delegate at this year’s national conference in Orlando. He and Nonahal each had 2 votes.

Garriott had most of his expenses covered by SPJ’s National office. But he does have $188.70 in airfare left over. Nonahal asked the board to pick up those remaining expenses. Marcellino moved to have SPJ/LA cover that cost, and Windsor seconded. The motion carried.

Nonahal also discussed the dinner meeting that she and Bluestein had with Rebecca Baker, secretary treasurer of SPJ’s national office. Baker is likely to become president of SPJ national in 2017, the year the conference is set to be held in Anaheim.

Baker was in town Sept. 28 and listened to feedback from Nonahal and Bluestein on the chapter’s recent experiences with national. She offered tips for SPJ/LA on event planning, promotional activities, membership benefits and so on.

Windsor suggested SPJ/LA could affiliate itself with a credit union and offer that as a perk to members. Nonahal offered to make that idea part of the discussion at the January retreat.


Hendrickson presented the treasurer’s report for the month ended Sept. 30. The chapter’s balance at the end of the month should be $30,659.67, once a check is cashed. The Morgan Stanley account is $69,292.12, up from $69,261.65 the previous month.

Hendrickson also said he recently went to an online journalism event in Venice, which featured a speaker from Google. Hendrickson said he would email information from that presentation.


Awards: Marcellino reported the committee will be sending out a request for award nominations on Thursday. She asked board members to get the word out to their colleagues. A slate will be presented at the November board meeting.

The board had an extended discussion on whether to change the title of the award category for “new media” – individuals at news organizations that are online-only. Should it be Distinguished Digital Journalist? Distinguished Online Journalist?

The board left it to the Nominations Committee to come up with the new name, which will be presented at the next board meeting.

Banquet: No report

Courts: No report

Diversity: No report

Ethics: No report

FOI: Zahniser updated the board on the latest developments in organizing the Nov. 7 Spreadsheet Survival workshop. He reported that Ron Campbell, who works with Center for Health Reporting, has agreed to lead the workshop. The plan is to have an event that runs for three hours — the first half would be an overview on data tools, followed by a break, while the second would be a hands-on workshop led by Campbell.

Zahniser said the committee has been in talks with Cal State, LA over space but does not yet have a confirmation. If that confirmation does not come, the event will likely have to be postponed until January.

Board members suggested the committee look at venues like the RAND offices in Santa Monica. Zahniser said he would keep board members updated on the search for a venue.

Generation J: Board members discussed the Oct. 24 event at Cal State Northridge. Bluestein brought up the yearly $500 contribution that SPJ/LA provides for the event.

Windsor moved to make the contribution and Bellman seconded. Motion carries.

Membership: No report

Nominations:  No report

Scholarships: No report


  • July Mega Mixer Recap: Nonahal thanked Saxton and Evans for putting together the well attended July mega mixer. Nonahal asked whether all of the outside funds for the event came in. Saxton said he would check with Evans.
  • 9 Mixer: Nonahal said last month’s Booze and Board Games mixer in downtown Los Angeles was also a success. In addition, Claudia Peschiutta is working on a possible mixer/event in late October, one that might be thrown in tandem with the L.A. Press Club.


  • 15 event: Nonahal reported the Oct. 15 mixer organized by board member Michael Fleeman will be at SBE, 5900 Wilshire Blvd. Martha Pierce, head of audience growth for, will discuss the topic “How to Build a Successful Search Strategy from the Ground Up.”

NEXT BOARD MEETING: Nov. 2 at Louise’s, 7 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT: Wald moves to adjourn, Windsor seconds. Meeting is adjourned.

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: Sept. 8, 2015

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015
Louise’s Trattoria
10645 W. Pico Blvd. 
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Tami Abdollah, Joel Bellman, Stephanie Bluestein, , Christina Cocca, Khalil Garriott , Frank Mottek, Navid Nonahal, Julia Seifer, Natalie Windsor, Richard Saxton, Alice Walton, David Zahniser.

  1. MINUTES – Bellman moves to approve the minutes, Windsor seconds. Bluestein abstains. Motion carries.


  3. Nonahal turned the report over to Cocca, who announced she is leaving NBC 4 to go to Buzzfeed, where she will be homepage editor and breaking news reporter. The board offered congratulations.

    Nonahal also reported the office space at the Criminal Courts Building is coming along well and should be ready by the end of the week. She promised to send pictures once it’s ready. It’s at 210 W. Temple St., 18th floor. Checks for SPJ will continue to go to Hendrickson’s address.

  • Excellence in Journalism 2015: Nonahal reported board member Dan Evans had to drop out of the SPJ conference in Orlando, leaving her as the only delegate. The event, which runs from Sept. 18 to 20, remains open to other board members with an interest in going.

    Garriott said he is already plans to attend and can serve as a delegate. Nonahal promised to look into whether Garriott can be swapped out for Evans at the conference.



    Hendrickson, who was unable to attend the meeting, distributed the treasurer’s report to board members via email.

    Nonahal reported the chapter’s checking account was $30,740.66 on Sept 1. The Morgan Stanley account is $69,261.65 and reported a loss of $46.86. Again, Nonahal pointed out that none of the Morgan Stanley money was used for this year’s scholarships.

    Bellman moved to accept the report. Windsor seconded. Motion carried.



    a. Awards. No report.

    b. Banquet. No report

    c. Courts. No report

    d. Diversity. No report

    e. Ethics. No report.

    f. FOI.


Zahniser updated the board on the committee’s effort to assemble a Spreadsheet 101 workshop for journalists who feel they want to be more fluent in Excel and the use of spreadsheets in reporting. Ron Campbell, who works with the Center for Healthcare Reporting, volunteered for providing the workshop on either Oct. 3 or Oct. 31, but a venue still has not been found.

Windsor said she was troubled by the idea of staging the event on Halloween, especially since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, making things extra crazy.  Zahniser said he thought that the time of the event — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — would not interfere with Halloween festivities. Bluestein shared Windsor’s concern and suggested pushing the event back to Nov. 7.

Zahniser said he would try to accommodate the board’s request and report back next month.


  1. Generation J.

    Bluestein said the Generation J conference at Cal State, Northridge is set for October 24. She said there may be 50 more people than last year, when 150 participated. Bluestein said SPJ/LA may be called upon to pitch in for refreshments.

  2. Membership. No report.

    i. Nominations. No report.

    j. Scholarships. No report.

    Breaking from the agenda for a moment, Tami Abdollah arrived at the meeting to announce that she is moving to Washington, D.C. for her job with the Associated Press. She will be covering national security and terrorism. Abdollah reported this will be her last meeting and that she would miss the board. The board offered its congratulations.



  • Booze & Board Games mixer:  Walton and Cocca said that they have been spreading the word on the latest mixer. Happy hour is extended at the Redwood until 8 p.m. for the event.

  • Oct. 15 event: Nonahal reported that the Oct. 15 event planned by board member Michael Fleeman has been changed. Instead of focusing on the topic of getting your work published in book form, Fleeman has set up an appearance from someone with the web site, who will discuss ways of getting the millennial audience.

    Fleeman has not yet found a venue for the event but is looking for it to be held somewhere in the Miracle Mile area, Nonahal said.

  1. NEXT BOARD MEETING. Oct. 5 at Louise’s, 7 p.m.


  1. ADJOURNMENT. Wald asked the board to adjourn in the memory of Gerry Ruben, who worked as an executive producer at KTLA for 33 years. Mottek described Ruben as a great guy, someone who worked with Hal Fishman and Stan Chambers and all the greats at the station. Services are set for Saturday, Sept. 12 in Granada Hills.

    Windsor moved to adjourn the meeting, Cocca seconded. Meeting was adjourned.


SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: July 6, 2015

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

Monday, July 6, 2015, 7 p.m.

Louise’s Trattoria

10645 W. Pico Blvd. 

Los Angeles, CA 90064


Joel Bellman, Christina Cocca, Michael Fleeman, Dick Hendrickson, Elizabeth Marcellino, Navid Nonahal, Richard Saxton, Jeff Wald, Alice Walton, Robi Wax, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.


  1. MINUTES – Wald moved to approve the June 2015 board minutes. Saxton seconded. Motion carried.




  • SPJ Grant update: Nonahal reported that SPJ national provided a $250 grant for the July mega-mixer. The 8 Ball Foundation chipped in another $250.  Saxton said other journalism groups may also contribute funds for the mixer. Nonahal said there’s no need to send out another advisory on the event, since there are already around 123 RSVPs.


  • Excellence in Journalism 2015: Nonahal reported that Dan Evans has expressed interest in being an attendee at the 2015 conference, which runs from Sept. 18 to Sept. 20. This year the L.A. chapter has four votes. Zahniser moved, and Bellman seconded, to designate Nonahal and Evans as representatives at the conference this year. The motion carried.




Hendrickson circulated the treasurer’s report. He reported that the Morgan Stanley account has been losing money — $101 two months ago and $198 this last month.


Bellman asked if there is any explanation for the drop. Hendrickson said that his expectation is that the chapter will be told that we’re in it for the long term, and that markets go up and down. The good news, Hendrickson said, is that the scholarships came out of the chapter’s operating budget this year. That is an accomplishment, since the Morgan Stanley account normally provides that money, he said.


Hendrickson also proposed the idea of authorizing a third board member to sign the chapter’s checks, in case both of the signers are out of town at the same time. After an extended discussion, Wald moved and Bellman seconded to designate Walton as the third signer. The motion carried.




  1. Awards – No report. 


  1. Banquet – No report.


  1. Courts – Marcellino provided an update on the committee’s inquiry into complaints about access at the federal courthouse. Marcellino said Laura Vega, the public affairs contact for the U.S. Marshal’s Office, informed her that yes, reporters are entitled to bring digital recorders into the courthouse but are prohibited from using them. Vega told Marcellino there have been some violations of that rule and as a result, security officers are overly cautious. Vega asked if SPJ/LA can inform its members about the rule – and the possibility that a violation can cause reporters to be banned from court permanently.


Vega also said that in one instance, a reporter was overly aggressive with a member of the public – possibly a juror — about obtaining an interview. Security in that case was trying to keep that member of the public from being harassed. 


Walton said that her understanding is that it was a defendant, not a juror, who had been approached — and that the reporter has filed a formal complaint. Board members then asked about whether the courthouse bars the larger recording equipment that is carried by broadcast reporters.


Marcellino agreed to contact Vega again to find out precisely what equipment may be carried into the federal court building. She will also ask Vega whether court officials are willing to post the rules for reporters in a visible location of the courthouse. Once that information is ascertained, a report will be issued for posting on the chapter web site.


  1. Diversity – No report.


  1. Ethics – No report.


  1. FOI – Board members discussed plans for the September workshop event.  Zahniser proposed a workshop that deals with the basics of data and spreadsheets – a 101-type workshop for reporters who are at ground zero in terms of skills.


Cocca said the nonprofit Investigative Reporting and Editors already provides such workshops, as well as an Excel pro who could probably lead it. Walton said data training provided to reporters at KPCC has been helpful. She offered to forward some contact information. Wax suggested contacting Doug Smith at the Los Angeles Times.


Zahniser and Marcellino promised to reach out to potential trainers for the workshop and report back to the board.


  1. Generation J – No report.


  1. Membership – No report.


  1. Nominations – No report.


  1. Scholarships – No report.




  • “Booze and Board Games” mixer update: Nonahal reported the June 3 mixer had much better attendance than the previous month — around 20 people at the Redwood. Walton said the entire room was packed. The next board game mixer will be in September.




  • Mega Mixer: Saxton provided another reminder of the July 7 event at Molly Malone’s Irish Pub.
  • Meeting space: Windsor raised the issue of the restaurant used for the monthly SPJ/LA board meeting. Windsor voiced frustration over the noise at Louise’s – and the fact that there’s no longer a curtain to reduce that noise. She recommended an exploratory effort to look at Luna Park at 6th and La Brea. They take separate checks.


  1. NEXT BOARD MEETING – Sept. 8 at Louise’s, 7 p.m.


  1. ADJOURNMENT – Walton moved, Marcellino seconded. Meeting was adjourned.