Statement on Southern California News Group Layoffs

For Immediate Release
Jan. 31, 2018

Contact:
Stephanie Bluestein
SPJ/LA President
818-677-3407
Bluestein.SPJLA@gmail.com

On behalf of the board of directors of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, I want to express my sadness, frustration and dismay at news of widespread layoffs of reporters, editors and photographers at newspapers under the Southern California News Group umbrella.

These 11 intensely local newspapers cover communities stretching from the San Fernando Valley to San Bernardino and Orange County. Even before these layoffs, their coverage had been reduced significantly. After this latest round of cuts, we fear they will be forced to scale back even further, eliminating much-needed coverage of their elected representatives and local government agencies.

Their role as watchdog is being stripped away.

What is happening at the Southern California News Group should be a cause for alarm for anyone who values our civic culture. People often complain about unresponsive, unaccountable local government and vanishing local news is a large part of why this is able to occur.

We urge the public to show their support for journalists by subscribing to their local newspaper, and push for the kind of newsgathering they want to see.

The Society of Professional Journalists maintains that an informed public is the foundation of democracy. This is what is at stake when we no longer have a robust staff of journalists and photographers reporting on our communities and cities.

Stephanie Bluestein
President, Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

SPJ/LA members attend All The President’s Men reading at LA City Hall

From left to right: Matt Hall, Region 11 director; Lauren Bartlett, SPJ Director at Large; Linda Bowen; SPJ/LA associate board member; Leslie Simmons, past SPJ/LA chapter president; Alice Walton, SPJ/LA board member; Joel Bellman, SPJ/LA board member and Lori Streifler, SPJ/LA associate board member.

Members of SPJ/LA attended a celebrity reading of “All The President’s Men” Saturday at L.A. City Hall. The reading was organized by the Fountain Theatre and hosted by L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.

Actors from the West Wing and Scandal television shows read from William Goldman’s screenplay of “All The President’s Men,” based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein detailing their investigative reporting for The Washington Post uncovering the Watergate scandal.

The celebrity line-up included Bradley Whitford, Joshua Molina, Richard Schiff and Ed Begley, Jr. from West Wing and actors Jeff Perry and Joe Morton, of Scandal.

“This high-profile reading will be a statement asserting the First Amendment, advocating freedom of the press and honoring the tenacity of American journalism in a free society,” Fountain Theatre co-artistic director Stephen Sachs said in a news release announcing the reading. “As the current administration is under investigation, the echo of Watergate rings loud and clear. Reporters from The New York Times and Washington Post have been heroes, warriors for our democracy, as they were forty-five years ago.”

SPJ and SPJ/LA were represented by Matt Hall, Region 11 director; Lauren Bartlett, SPJ Director at Large; Linda Bowen; SPJ/LA associate board member; Leslie Simmons, SPJ/LA past president; Alice Walton, SPJ/LA board member; Joel Bellman, SPJ/LA board member, Lori Streifler, SPJ/LA associate board member and others.

KNX 1070’s Frank Mottek to MC SPJ/LA’s Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet

Frank Mottek, KNX 1070’s senior money anchor.

Journalist Frank Mottek, “the voice of business news in Los Angeles,” will be the master of ceremonies at the March 1 Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The event, which will take place at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, honors journalists in print, broadcast and digital media. The evening’s speaker will be MSNBC journalist Jacob Soboroff.

An award-winning broadcast journalist with more than 30 years of experience, Mottek currently anchors the morning drive Money reports on KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO and hosts the one-hour business and consumer news program “Mottek On Money.” He provided daily coverage of the 2008 financial crisis, the Great Recession and stock market updates.

Since joining CBS in Los Angeles in 1992, Mottek served as reporter and anchor on KNX as well as business anchor on KCAL9-TV and spot reporter for KCBS-TV CBS2. For 10 years, he also worked as reporter and business news anchor on the KTLA Channel 5 News @ 10 and the KTLA Morning News.

He is frequently called to lead some of the highest-profile business discussions, including economic forecast events for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the Milken Institute, UCLA Anderson School of Management, the Association for Corporate Growth, Los Angeles Business Journal and Southern California Association of Governments.

This year’s Distinguished Journalist honorees are: Kim Masters, editor-at-large of The Hollywood Reporter; Robin Abcarian, columnist at the Los Angeles Times; 89.3 KPCC reporter Sharon McNary; ABC7 Eyewitness News reporter Miriam Hernandez; and Norberto Santana, founder and publisher of the Voice of OC. The Freedom of Information award will go to Kelly Aviles of Californians Aware, a nonprofit organization dedicated to open government, free speech and protected reporting.

The Distinguished Journalists Awards banquet will be held on Thursday, March 1 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. A no-host cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the event are:
$100 for SPJ/LA members
$140 for non-members
$80 for students
Tables of 10 are available for $1,000
Sponsorship opportunities are also available. The three levels of sponsorship are:

Platinum ($5,000): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, event signage, logo included on banquet website and in emails, one complimentary table at the event.

Gold ($2,500): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, logo included on banquet website and in emails, five complimentary tickets to the event.

Silver ($1,500): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, logo included on banquet website and in emails, two complimentary tickets to the event.

You can also support SPJ/LA by purchasing an ad in the banquet program:
Full page ad inside program: $350
Half-page ad inside program: $250
Quarter-page ad inside program: $150

For details on sponsorship or to make a reservation, please contact Alice Walton at AliceMWalton@gmail.com or (310) 595-5612.

Meeting Minutes: December 4, 2017

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
Monday, Dec. 4, 2017 at 7 p.m.
Louise’s Trattoria 10645 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064

Present: Joel Bellman, Stephanie Bluestein, Christina Cocca, Sarah Favot, Richard Hendrickson, Elizabeth Marcellino, Navid Nonahal, Richard Saxton, Lori Streifler, Alice Walton, Roberta Wax, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser

Bluestein called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m.

I. Approval of minutes from the Nov. 6 board meeting
Marcellino moved to approve the November meeting minutes, Windsor seconded. Wax abstained. Approved.

II. President’s report – Bluestein
Bluestein reported about the statement from national regarding the LA Weekly sale. She received an email from a communications director at national about the statement and asked if we would like to post it on our chapter’s website. Bluestein spoke to some board members about whether the chapter should issue its own statement but within hours the paper’s new owners had revealed their identities. National had said they would consider updating their statement with comment from our chapter. Zahniser said our Chapter should weigh in on layoffs that happened at LAist and the Weekly, in addition to the ownership question. Zahniser said there is a hunger for that voice as the LA journalism community has taken such a hit and SPJ-LA needs to be that voice. Walton also expressed frustration about the recent developments and suggested the chapter host a mixer. Zahniser suggested February. Bellman will reach out to Andrew Seaman to see if national will give us a head’s up in the future if they make statements related to our chapter.

III. Treasurer’s report – Hendrickson
Hendrickson reported the Chapter’s Bank of America account showed a beginning balance as of Nov. 1 of $30,164.11. The Dec. 1 bank balance was $30,381.13, same as the ending balance on the books. Hendrickson reported that the MB Accounting fee for our 2016 tax return preparation was  $400. We will pay a $10 fee to the state Franchise Tax Board.
Favot moved to pay MB Accounting $400 for the fee to prepare our 2016 tax return, Bellman seconded. Approved.
Hendrickson reported that he will create a separate bank account for the Regional Conference the chapter will host in April. He will transfer $1,000 as a loan to this new account.
Zahniser moved to transfer $1,000 to the new account. Wax seconded. Approved.
Zahniser moved to accept the amended Treasurer’s Report, Marcellino seconded. Approved.

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees

a.) Awards – Streifler
Streifler reported we sent out the press release today announcing the honorees. Walton said she will introduce herself to the honorees going forward to prepare them ahead of the banquet on March 1. Streifler thanked Marcellino for preparing the press release.

b.) Banquet – Walton
Walton said Jacob Soboroff of MSNBC has confirmed. She will send out a release announcing him as the banquet keynote speaker next Monday.

c.) Courts – Marcellino
No report

d.) Diversity – Arias/Nonahal
No report.

e.) Ethics – Bellman
Bellman asked board members if they feel the board should issue a statement about journalists who have been accused of sexual harassment. Walton said we could plan programming around the issue, pointing to an op-ed in the NY Times about the men who are directing news programming and what they are doing in their private lives and how their choices in newsroom affect coverage. We will have a panel at the Regional Conference about covering sexual harassment with Kim Masters of the Hollywood Reporter. Board members expressed we aren’t in a position to give journalists advice about potential sexual harassment. Walton will brainstorm with the Diversity Committee on whether there will be programming before the Regional Conference on this topic.

f.) FOI – Zahniser
No report

g.) Generation J – Bluestein
No report

h.) Membership – Nonahal
Marcellino reported the Membership Committee would like to set up membership registration on our website where journalists can register to be members of the LA Chapter so that we can manage this process directly rather than relying on the SPJ national site.This is for members who are already national members, but not members of our Chapter.
Zahniser moved to put Paypal on our website to register members for the chapter. Favot seconded. Hendrickson abstained. Approved.
Marcellino said the committee will send emails welcoming new members. Hendrickson suggested offering a discounted chapter fee for students.

i.) Nominations – Favot
Favot reported Wax, Mottek and Saxton are running for re-election. Four new candidates are running to fill two three-year term seats and one two-year term seat: Sandy Mazza, a reporter at the Daily Breeze; Tom Bray, a senior editor at the Southern California News Group; Kathryn Mora, a freelance journalist; and Julia Wick, former editor of the LAist.

j.) Regional Conference– Hendrickson and Favot
Favot and Hendrickson reported they will circulate the list of panelists to board members to see if they can come up with an overarching theme for the conference.We are taking suggestions for a closing speaker who would end the conference on a hopeful note. We are asking board members for suggestions on web designer/flyer designer.

k.) Scholarships – Audi
No report.

V. Old Business
Directors & Officers Insurance
Bluestein got answers to questions board members had from an insurance broker recommended by our attorney. The coverage protects nonprofit organizations and their board members against lawsuits they may face.Insurance coverage for events would require liability coverage for a specific event rather than D&O. Nonahal reported she emailed RTNA, LA Press Club, FLA chapter and SD Chapter about their coverage. Nonahal sent an application for an additional quote through Berkshire Hathaway – requesting a quote for D&O, for liability and employee dishonesty insurance in one package. She’s still waiting for the quote. She will give him one more week and if he doesn’t get back to us, RTNA gave her their insurance broker to contact. Bluestein said she would like the board to make a decision at the retreat.

VI.New Business
Formation of a Communications Committee for the chapter
Bluestein said we need to be coordinated when we want to make public statements on breaking news matters related to the news industry. Some board members said they don’t think we need a committee. Walton said the Chapter president has the authority to speak on behalf of the chapter as long as at least two other board members have reviewed the statement. Bellman proposed that president have the final say, which is what the by-laws seem to indicate. If members feel strongly about an issue they should reach out to Bluestein and maybe the member who chairs a committee that relates to the issue could draft the statement. Streifler said the board should be prepared to act quickly.

VII. Next board meeting: Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. at Wax’s house

VIII. Adjournment
Bluestein presented Cocca with a small token of appreciation for her work on the chapter as she leaves the Chapter.
Zahniser moved to adjourn at 9 p.m., Bellman seconded. Approved.

RSVP for the Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet hosted by the Greater L.A. Chapter of SPJ

LOS ANGELES – Don’t miss your opportunity to support local journalism by attending the 42nd annual Distinguished Journalists Awards dinner hosted by the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on March 1, 2018.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available. SPJ/LA presents the Distinguished Journalist awards to members of the profession who demonstrate good news judgment, a strong sense of ethics and a passion for getting the story right. Honorees have achieved a record of career accomplishments.

This year’s Distinguished Journalist honorees are: Kim Masters, editor-at-large of The Hollywood Reporter; Robin Abcarian, columnist at the Los Angeles Times; 89.3 KPCC reporter Sharon McNary; ABC7 Eyewitness News reporter Miriam Hernandez; and Norberto Santana, founder and publisher of the Voice of OC.

The Freedom of Information award will go to Kelly Aviles of Californians Aware, a nonprofit organization dedicated to open government, free speech and protected reporting.

MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff will be the speaker at the dinner.

Sponsorship opportunities and program ads are available. The three levels of sponsorship are:

Platinum ($5,000): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, event signage, logo included on banquet website and in emails, one complimentary table at the event.

Gold ($2,500): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, logo included on banquet website and in emails, five complimentary tickets to the event.

Silver ($1,500): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, logo included on banquet website and in emails, two complimentary tickets to the event.

You can also support SPJ/LA by purchasing an ad in the banquet program:
Back cover of the program: $500
Full page inside program: $350
Half-page inside program: $250
Quarter-page inside program: $150

If you can’t make it to the banquet, please consider sponsoring a student. For $80, your donation will cover a journalism student’s attendance at the event.

The awards banquet will be held March 1, 2018, at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets for the event are:
$100 for SPJ/LA members
$140 for non-members
$80 for students
Tables of 10 are available for $1,000
A no-host cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m.

To make a reservation, contact Alice Walton at AliceMWalton@gmail.com or (310) 595-5612.