SPJ/LA in coordination with ONA/LA hosts online harassment self-defense training for journalists, facilitated by PEN America

Building on PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual, this training equips writers and journalists, as well as their allies and employers, with practical tools and strategies to defend against online abuses, including: preparation, response, legal considerations, self-care and best practices for offering support. Join the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Los Angeles chapter of the Online News Association for Online Harassment Self-Defense: Tools & Strategies for Journalists.

WHAT: Online Harassment Self-Defense: Tools & Strategies for Journalists

WHO: Led by PEN America

WHEN: Wednesday, April 17 (7-9pm)

WHERE: Santa Monica College Bundy Campus
3171 S Bundy Drive
Santa Monica
Room 121

PARKING: Parking is available in the front of the building. Be sure to park head first in a space NOT marked ‘staff’.

COST: The event itself is free and open to the public. SPJ/LA will provide light refreshments.

RSVP: ashanti.blaize@gmail.com

Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins

Statement Opposing Proposed Changes to California Public Records Act

Society of Professional Journalists
Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter
Post Office Box 572632
Tarzana, CA 91357

April 1, 2019

The Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter is opposed to AB 700 (Friedman), which is scheduled for a hearing before your committee on April 2, 2019, unless the bill is amended.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman’s bill, sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, is a proposal to amend the California Public Records Act (CPRA) to exclude broad new categories of records related to research conducted through public colleges and universities. UCS and its allies assert that CPRA has been abused to harass researchers, interfere with their work, and compromise and undermine legitimate scholarship and the academic mission of free inquiry.

SPJ/LA respects the integrity of the academy and can readily agree that harassment, threats, and intimidation are antithetical to the proper function of higher education institutions, and to a healthy and robust democracy.

However, we believe there are adequate legal protections and statutory remedies already in place that afford colleges and universities ample opportunity to respond effectively to overly intrusive and inappropriate records requests. To the extent that additional legislation may be
deemed necessary, it should be very narrowly tailored and carefully considered in the context of protecting openness and transparency in public institutions, and ensuring the widest possible participation in public processes and decision-making, as paramount values in a democratic society.

We support the positions taken by the California News Publishers Association (CNPA) and the California First Amendment Coalition, who oppose the bill unless amended. And we endorse CNPA’s publicly stated commitment “to continuing to work with the author on narrowing the
scope of the bill so that it is not harmful to the public’s right to know what government agencies are doing on its behalf.”

SPJ/LA Letter to UC Board of Regents

Society of Professional Journalists
Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter
Post Office Box 572632
Tarzana, CA 91357


March 5, 2019

To the UC Board of Regents:
Maria Anguiano
Richard C. Blum
Laphonza Butler
Michael Cohen
Gareth Elliott
Cecilia Estolano
Devon Graves
Howard “Peter” Guber
George Kieffer
Sherry L. Lansing
Richard Leib
Hadi Makarechian
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
Lark Park
John A. Pérez
Richard Sherman
Jonathan “Jay” Sures
Ellen Tauscher
Charlene Zettel

Ex Officio Regents
Gavin Newsom
Eleni Kounalakis
Anthony Rendon
Tony Thurmond
Janet Napolitano
Darin Anderson
Jason Morimoto

Dear Members:

I am writing on behalf of the Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ/LA) to call to your attention what we believe to be a willful violation by UCLA of the California Public Records Act. We have been seeking some very specific information from UCLA without success for the past year, and UCLA has honored neither the letter nor the spirit of the law in failing to provide it, or even in providing any explanation or justification for their failure to provide it.

On February 26, 2018, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivered a lecture on the UCLA campus at the invitation of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. It is the longstanding practice of the Center to post the video and podcast of such appearances its website; these are, after all, public appearances by public figures on a publicly funded college campus, open to the general public.

Nevertheless, because hecklers at one point briefly disrupted his presentation, Secretary Mnuchin retroactively withdrew his permission to post the video, and UCLA complied. After SPJ/LA and other organizations publicly complained that UCLA had no right to censor the video of this public event, and after internal consultations with its own lawyers, UCLA quickly reversed its position and one day later, posted the video and podcast of Mnuchin’s appearance.

SPJ/LA has repeatedly asked for an explanation and background material behind both UCLA’s initial decision to withhold publication of the video, and its reversal to allow the posting. Because UCLA declined to voluntarily provide the requested information, we were initially advised by Peggy McInerney, Director of Communications for the Burkle Center, on March 5, 2018 that we would have to submit a formal CPRA request to the office of UCLA Information Practices. That letter of request is attached. We received a boiler-plate letter 10 days later, on 3/16/18 (also attached), designating our request as PRR #18-5461

Since that time, we have received nothing but auto-generated emails every two months, not signed by any individual, telling us they have to revise the timetable because they “have not completed the requisite review.” It seems quite obvious to us that UCLA has no intention ever of completing it, and are hoping that we will simply give up and go away.

In September, we publicly complained after six months of total inaction by UCLA on our request.

In November, we contacted a prominent First Amendment and government transparency attorney who told us that UCLA, in functionally ignoring our CPRA request, “is grossly and unlawfully delinquent in its foot-dragging.”

He cited the pertinent Government Code Section in the CPRA as 6253 (c):

Each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall, within 10 days from receipt of the request, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefor.

In unusual circumstances, the time limit prescribed in this section may be extended by written notice by the head of the agency or his or her designee to the person making the request, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched. No notice shall specify a date that would result in an extension for more than 14 days.

When the agency dispatches the determination, and if the agency determines that the request seeks disclosable public records, the agency shall state the estimated date and time when the records will be made available.

As used in this section, “unusual circumstances” means the following, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request:
(1) The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request.
(2) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are demanded in a single request.
(3) The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the agency having substantial subject matter interest therein.
(4) The need to compile data, to write programming language or a computer program, or to construct a computer report to extract data.
(d) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to permit an agency to delay or obstruct the inspection or copying of public records.

We have just received yet another robot email, dated 2/28/19, advising us that “we must revise the estimated availability date regarding your attached request, as the requisite review has not yet been completed.”

Our efforts to appeal to UCLA have been unavailing, and our patience is exhausted. We are now appealing to you, as the UC governing body, and to our local law enforcement agencies, the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Los Angeles District Attorney, in an effort to force UCLA to meet its statutory obligations to comply with the California Public Records Act and turn over the requested information without further delay.

Thank you for assistance and your prompt attention to this matter.


Joel Bellman
Ethics Committee Chair and Board Member
Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

Attachments: SPJ/LA CPRA Request 3/5/18
UCLA Response 3/16/18

cc: Strefan Fauble, Deputy City Attorney, Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney
Alan Yochelson, Head Deputy, Public Integrity Division Los Angeles County District
Attorney’s Office

Photos: Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet 2019

SPJ/LA’s Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet was held March 20, 2019 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The honorees were:

Rich Archbold, public editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram; Steve Padilla, Column One editor and Metpro director of the Los Angeles Times; KFI-AM news editor Nicole M. Campbell; KMEX-TV Univision 34 news anchor, reporter and host Gabriela Teissier; and David Dayen, freelance journalist and author.

Scott Sanders, an attorney with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, received the Freedom of Information Award.

Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, gave the keynote address.

SPJ/LA board member and KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO business anchor Frank Mottek was the Master of Ceremonies.

Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine to Give Keynote Address at SPJ/LA Banquet

Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine will give the keynote address at the March 20, 2019 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.

Before joining The Times in 2018, Pearlstine served as Chief Content Officer and then Vice Chairman of Time Inc. Prior to that, he was Chief Content Officer at Bloomberg L.P.

For nearly five decades, Pearlstine has worked as a reporter and editor. He was editor-in-chief of Time Inc. from 1995 to 2005 before becoming a senior advisor to Time Warner. At Time Inc. Pearlstine oversaw the editorial content of Time Inc.’s 154 magazines, including Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, In Style, Money, People, Real Simple, Sports Illustrated and Time.

Previously, Pearlstine worked for the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine, the Asian Wall Street Journal and the Wall Street Journal/Europe. He also launched Smart Money magazine for Dow Jones & Co. and Hearst Corp. Pearlstine is the author of “Off the Record: The Press, the Government, and the War over Anonymous Sources,” published in 2007, and is the recipient of numerous honors, including the National Press Foundation’s Editor of the Year Award.

The Distinguished Journalist honorees are longtime regional journalists practicing in print, radio, television and digital media. They are:
Rich Archbold, public editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram; Steve Padilla, Column One editor and Metpro director of the Los Angeles Times; KFI-AM news editor Nicole M. Campbell; KMEX-TV Univision 34 news anchor, reporter and host Gabriela Teissier; and David Dayen, freelance journalist and author.

The Freedom of Information award will go to Scott Sanders, an attorney with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office.

The Distinguished Journalists Awards banquet will be held on Wednesday, March 20 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.