WHAT DOES UCLA HAVE TO HIDE? SPJ/LA CALLS ON UNIVERSITY TO RELEASE WITHHELD CORRESPONDENCE WITH TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN

The Society of Professional Journalists Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter is issuing the following statement calling on UCLA to comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and honor SPJ/LA’s March 2018 CPRA request for correspondence concerning Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s controversial February 2018 public appearance at UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations:

SPJ/LA is calling on UCLA to stop stalling and comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA), and honor SPJ/LA’s March 2018 CPRA request for correspondence between the University and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin concerning Mnuchin’s February 26, 2018 appearance on campus for a guest lecture at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations.

Mnuchin’s appearance became controversial when, unlike previous lecturers, he withdrew his earlier permission for the University to post video and audio of his lecture and a Q&A session, which was briefly disrupted by hecklers.

SPJ/LA and others pointed out that Mnuchin was a public official making an official public appearance at a publicly funded university for an event open to the general public, and that as such, he did not have the right to prevent recordings of the event from being posted by the University. UCLA, after conferring with its own lawyers, agreed that the recordings could not be withheld and subsequently posted the material, as Mnuchin formally withdrew his initial objections.

In an effort to learn what sort of prior agreement might have improperly given Mnuchin veto power over publicly posting records of a public event at a public facility, SPJ/LA on March 7, 2018 filed a CPRA request for all relevant correspondence during the year prior to the controversy over posting recordings of Mnuchin’s appearance.

UCLA has continually stalled the request, repeatedly informing SPJ/LA on March 16, March 29, June 29, and August 31 that despite SPJ/LA’s narrow request and tight time-frame, “the review has not been completed,” ignoring UCLA’s own proposed deadlines time and again.

SPJ/LA again reminds UCLA of its obligations as a taxpayer-supported public institution to comply with the state’s Public Records Act in a more timely manner and either produce the requested documents without delay, or explain as the law requires why those records cannot lawfully be released.

SPJ/LA is left to wonder: What does UCLA have to hide? Who does UCLA have to protect?

SPJ/LA CRITICIZES DONATIONS FROM CHARLES KOCH INSTITUTE AND OTHERS TO JOURNALISM ORGANIZATIONS

The Society of Professional Journalists Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter is issuing the following statement of concern about the accelerating trend of journalism organizations and entities to both solicit and accept donations from non-profit organizations associated with Charles and David Koch and their company Koch Industries, and from other similar groups that potentially have the incidental or intended effect of ideologically influencing news coverage and journalism policy agendas:

SPJ/LA objects in the strongest possible terms to a $25,000 donation by the Charles Koch Institute for a sponsored session, “Free to FoIA,” scheduled to take place at the national SPJ “Excellence in Journalism” convention in Baltimore, September 27-29, 2018.

The session promises journalists “a tactical and topical guide” to obtaining public records through the federal Freedom of Information Act to “shine a light on government,” and will feature participants from openthegovernment.org (a transparency advocacy group), NPR and a law firm which has represented news organizations.

The Koch brothers and Koch Industries do not come to this issue with clean hands. Between 2010 and 2017, they operated kochfacts.com, a website largely devoted to attacking and discrediting journalists who reported critically on Koch Industries and its activities. The attacks included impugning the reputation of reporters like Jane Mayer, a longtime New Yorker staff writer who reported on the Kochs’ political network in a 2010 New Yorker article and a bestselling 2016 book, Dark Money. The Koch website routinely accused Bloomberg, Forbes, MSNBC, the New York Times, Reuters and many other news outlets of inaccuracies, deceptions and falsehoods simply for reporting facts that the Koch brothers didn’t like.

In recent years the Kochs have changed tactics, quietly deactivating the website and instead trying to co-opt and cultivate a connection with journalism organizations. The Charles Koch Institute and related Charles Koch Foundation have solicited grant proposals and awarded thousands of dollars in grants to journalism entities including the Newseum, the Poynter Institute, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Washington Post and others.

SPJ/LA believes it is fundamentally incompatible with the journalistic mission and codes of ethics governing conflicts of interest to accept money and sponsorships for any reason, whether disclosed or not, from entities like those associated with Koch Industries whose advocacy has long included sustained attacks on the integrity and legitimacy of journalists and journalism organizations.

Moreover, despite its professed support for transparency when it comes to government, Koch Industries itself has never been a champion of openness and transparency when it comes to its own activities. For example, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel recently reversed a lower court decision and ordered a Koch-connected foundation, Americans for Prosperity, to disclose its donor list to the California attorney general to ensure against charity fraud. Koch Industries had argued unsuccessfully against such transparency, claiming that releasing its list to law enforcement would imperil the First Amendment rights of its donors.

SPJ/LA calls upon the national SPJ board of directors and other news organizations who have sought or received Koch-related and similar sponsorships to ensure that their policies preclude partnerships with donors whose agendas and tactics are fundamentally at odds with the core journalistic mission to further transparency and accountability in all institutions, public and private, carried out by a free and independent press.

Meeting Minutes: July 8, 2018

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Agenda
Monday, July 9, 2018
7 p.m.
Louise’s Trattoria
10645 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Present: Elizabeth Marcellino, Roberta Wax, Joel Bellman, Sarah Favot, Natalie Windsor, Ricardo Lopez, Julia Wick, Lori Streifler, Kathryn Mora

Favot called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m.

I. Approval of minutes from June 4 meeting. Zahniser moved to approve the minutes, Favot seconded. All voted in favor.

II. President’s report – (Favot will deliver) A P.O. box has been secured for the chapter. Bluestein will attend the convention in Baltimore. Bluestein working on a Google news tools workshop at USC in September.

III. Treasurer’s report – Hendrickson reported on the bank balance as of June 1. Zahniser moved to receive the Treasurer’s report. Natalie seconded. All voted in favor except Lopez who abstained as he was not present in June.

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees –
a. Awards –Streifler did a rundown of the awards for those who were not familiar.
b. Banquet – Walton — nothing to report.
c. Courts – Marcellino had nothing to report.
d. Diversity – Lopez is now chair of the committee.
e. Ethics – Bellman had nothing to report.
f. FOI – Zahniser spoke about how there may be another amicus brief to sign onto. More information may be revealed between now and the September board meeting. Bellman reported that we still have not received the information we requested in regard to their Mnuchin visit.
g. Generation J – Nothing to report.
h. Membership – Marcellino said the membership committee had come up with two options for a tangible giveaway for new SPJ/LA members: a ceramic mug or a drink tumbler that can hold both hot and cold drinks. The mug is less expensive and the group expressed approval for the mug. The membership committee would like approval to spend $180 on coffee mugs to use as giveaways. This would cover 36 mugs.
i. Nominations – Nothing to report.
j. Regional Conference – Nothing to report.
k. Scholarships – Mora read the report. We did not extend the deadline. Richard sent multiple email blasts to professors at college journalism programs across the Southland. Four potential scholarship recipients were chosen. Much discussion was had about them. Zahniser moved to approve the committee report and have a larger discussion about scholarships in September. Wick seconded, all voted in favor.
The scholarships were awarded to:
Jason Rocklin CSUF – Greenburg (Political & Investigative);
Ethan Lauren SMC and CSULB – Farr (Future Journalists);
Natalia Vivino CSUN – Johnson (Broadcast Journalists);
Imani Stephens ASU – Innouye (Diversity).

V. Old Business
a. Patt Morrison book signing on June 13 – Bellman said it was a very nice event: 14 people attended.
b. Mega-Mixer on June 27– Favot gave a positive report and said a targeted Facebook post was also very effective. Between 120 and 150 people attended the mixer throughout the evening.
c. Video editing workshop on July 14 – According to Favot, the event sold out in three days and now has a waiting list.

VI. New Business
a. Selecting location and date for awards banquet – Walton
The banquet will be at the Omni Hotel in downtown LA on March 20.
b. Updated chapter brochure – Bray
c. Approval of chapter funds for the president to attend EIJ ‘18 – Favot moved to approve, Marcellino seconded all voted in favor.
d. Mixer with the Long Beach Post – All thought it was a great idea though some were concerned about holding an event in the dog days of August.

VII. Favot moved to adjourn at 8:37 Natalie seconded all voted in favor.

Next board meeting: Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. (the day after Labor Day) at Louise’s Trattoria
(Note: No board meeting in August.)

Meeting Minutes: June 4, 2018

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
Monday, June 4, 2018
7 p.m.
Louise’s Trattoria
10645 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Present Roberta Wax, Alice Walton, Stephanie Bluestein, Natalie Windsor, Frank Mottek, Joel Bellman, Sarah Favot, Elizabeth Marcellino, Kathryn Mora, Richard Saxton

Bluestein called the meeting to order at 7:14 pm.

I. Approval of minutes from May 7 meeting. Bluestein moved to approve the minutes, Walton seconded, three abstentions. Approved.
II. President’s report – Bluestein reported on the quest to obtain a mailbox. The smallest mailbox is $45 for six months. Wax moved for a vote in favor, Bellman seconded, all voted in favor.

III. Treasurer’s report – Hendrickson gave the treasurer’s report. Bellman moved to approve, Natalie Windsor seconded, all voted in favor.

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees –
a. Awards – Marcellino said nothing to report
b. Banquet – Walton said nothing to report.
c. Courts – Marcellino said nothing to report.
d. Diversity – No report
e. Ethics – No report
f. FOI – Bluestein discussed amicus brief and whether we had to pay $500 to add our name. We don’t yet have a firm answer. The merits of getting involved were debated.
g. Generation J – Bluestein had nothing to report
h. Membership – Marcellino said membership was basically flat year over year. We lost about 50 members but also gained 50 members. Marcellino discussed doing more to retain members and the group discussed potential tangible membership incentives.
i. Nominations – Bray not present.
j. Regional Conference – Bluestein presented results of survey which had very helpful feedback. Bluestein asked permission to share results with LV chapter, group agreed.
k. Scholarships – Saxton said we had two applications from photojournalists.

V. Old Business
a. Patt Morrison book signing on June 13 – Bellman said we have confirmed everything for that. It will be on a Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 at The Association downtown.
b. Mega-Mixer on June 27– Saxton will get stickers for name badges and pins. LA Press Club has also signed on.

VI. New Business
a. Filling vacancies on board – Bluestein discussed a potential new board member who Zahniser had approached. Natalie Windsor motioned to appoint the new member, Wick seconded. Everyone voted in favor.
b. Event for July – Mottek will inquire about a potential speaker. Bluestein will look into a potential workshop for July.
VII. Adjournment at 8:40 p.m.

Next board meeting: Monday, July 9 at 7 p.m. at Louise’s Trattoria
(Note: No board meeting in August.)

Save the Date: A Mixer with LB Post on Sept. 6

LB Post now has the largest newsroom in the city of Long Beach. Come network with your fellow journalists and hear from LB Post Publisher David Sommers on what he and his newsroom are doing to change the way this major city is covered.

The Long Beach Post is a daily, digital-first publication covering news, life, business, placemaking, food, sports and LGBTQ issues in the city of Long Beach. The Post continues to invest in expanded coverage of the city and its people, create new technologies to increase readership and remain nimble so changing reader demands are opportunities, not threats.

WHAT:
Mixer and Q&A with LB Post Publisher David Sommers

WHEN:
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018
7-9 p.m.

WHERE:
Beer Belly Long Beach
255 Long Beach Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802

COST:
The event itself is free and open to the public. The chapter will provide appetizers.

RSVP:
spjlosangeles@gmail.com

PARKING:
A mix of street parking and paid public lots can be found within close proximity to Beer Belly. See here for rates and locations. The restaurant is also a short walk from the Metro Blue Line First Street Station.

CONTACT:
Alice Walton
SPJ/LA
AliceMWalton@gmail.com