SPJ/LA Seeks Nominations for 2019 Distinguished Journalists Awards

Did you read, see, listen to or click on a great news story this week? Maybe it’s time to recognize that reporter, broadcast anchor or editor for a career’s worth of great stories.

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is seeking nominations for the chapter’s 2019 Distinguished Journalists Awards and 2019 Freedom of Information Award.

The five journalism categories include print: 90,000+ circulation; print: less than 90,000 circulation; television broadcast; radio broadcast; and digital media. Nominees may include reporters, news anchors, behind-the-scenes writers, editors or producers. Awards recognize a body of work rather than an individual story.

The FOI award honors a non-journalist who has helped promote First Amendment issues. Previous winners have worked in the legal profession, academia, government and nonprofit organizations.

Nomination forms or emails with the relevant information must be submitted to Lori Streifler at lori@socalnews.com no later than
November 15, 2019.

Please provide the nominee’s name, contact information, title, company and a summary of the nominee’s work, work history and achievements to describe why the nominee should be honored. Submission of links to the nominee’s work is recommended, but remember that the nomination is for a body of work, not an individual story. All submissions must be in English or include English translations. Please do not nominate past honorees.

A list of prior winners can be found here.

Awards will be presented at the SPJ/LA annual awards banquet on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Lori Streifler, SPJ/LA

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Meeting Minutes: September 9, 2019

Sept. 9, 2019 Meeting Minutes
SPJ/LA Board of Directors
Maria’s Italian Kitchen
10761 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

In attendance: Joel Bellman, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, Stephanie Bluestein, Tom Bray, Elizabeth Marcellino, Kathryn Mora, Frank Mottek, Nathan Solis, Lori Streifler, Robi Wax, Julia Wick, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.

I. Minutes.
The board approved the July 8 meeting minutes. Zahniser moved, Mottek seconded. Wick abstained.

II. President’s report.
Bluestein reported on SPJ/LA receiving the Circle of Excellence Award for Diversity from SPJ National, along with other activities from the annual conference in San Antonio. Bluestein also reported that Oct. 16 is the date selected to celebrate the donation of approximately $35,000 to SPJ/LA. The event will be held at CBS Studios and board members should look to attend. The board voted to budget $750 for the event, with an authorization of up to $1,000 if necessary. Windsor moved, Blaize-Hopkins seconded.

III. Treasurer’s report.
Since there wasn’t a board meeting the prior month, Marcellino provided reports for July and August. Marcellino said chapter revenue in July was 100% based on national catching SPJ/LA up on membership dues. Expenses were based on scholarships. The Bank of America and Morgan Stanley accounts saw no activity at all in August. The board accepted both reports. Windsor moved, Bellman seconded.

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees.
a. Awards. Streifler said the chapter will need to start getting the word out about awards in October. The board will cast votes on the nominees at the November or December board meeting.
b. Banquet. Suggestions were made about possible keynote speakers
c. Courts. No report.
d. Diversity. Bray suggested a program on the changes being made to newsroom style guides. Wick said Buzzfeed has been at the forefront of such changes, and suggested someone from that organization might work for such an event.
e. Ethics. Bellman held off so he could speak during new business.
f. FOI. Zahniser suggested a panel on reporting on the migrant crisis at the border. Streifler said she believed a similar program had been scheduled by PEN in September. Bellman also proposed a program on whistle blowers, given the activity in Washington, D.C. Zahniser said he would look into both.
g. Generation J. Blaize-Hopkins deferred her report until new business.
h. Membership. No report.
i. Nominations. No report.
j. Scholarships. No report.

V. Old Business.

VI. New Business.
a. SPJ/LA investments. Marcellino updated the board on the chapter’s new Morgan Stanley account, asking the board to weigh in on the way the funds are invested. Several board members said they preferred a more conservative approach. Marcellino suggested investing through a mutual fund or index fund. The board voted to set up a wire transfer between the Morgan Stanley account and the chapter’s Bank of America account. Bellman moved, Wax seconded.
b. Robert Hernandez workshop. Blaize-Hopkins discussed the upcoming Sept. 26 workshop, staged in partnership with the Online News Association, featuring USC associate professor Robert Hernandez. The event, titled “Building Empathy Through Virtual Reality Journalism,” will look at ways technology can be used to better cover marginalized communities.
c. Ethics panel. Bellman updated the board on plans for a panel on ethics involved in reporting on mass shootings. Working with the L.A. Press Club, Bellman found a venue that would cost $350 (split evenly with the Press Club). Bellman said there had been an exhaustive, but ultimately unsuccessful, search for a less expensive venue. The board approved the expenditure for the Oct. 22 event. Zahniser moved, Marcellino seconded.
d. Future of local news. Bluestein said she is inclined to push this event into the new year.
e. AAJA Trivia Bowl. Bluestein said the Asian American Journalists Association is seeking a sponsorship for their popular Trivia Bowl fundraiser, which raises money for journalism internships. The board agreed to purchase a $750 sponsorship, as the chapter has done for the past couple of years. Zahniser moved, Blaize-Hopkins seconded.
f. SPJ resolutions. Bluestein said the issue of resolutions at SPJ National conferences would be tabled until the board’s October meeting. Zahniser voiced disappointment with SPJ National’s handling of sponsorships for the second consecutive year. Zahniser said SPJ National was aware that sponsorships were a hot-button issue for multiple chapters in 2018, yet plowed ahead without any outreach or request for input from SPJ/LA.

VII. Adjournment
Zahniser moved, with Wick and Bellman seconding, to adjourn in memory of John Dart, former SPJ/LA chapter president and longtime religion writer for the L.A. Times and an editor of the Christian Century; Steve Hunt, editor and publisher of the Victorville Daily Press and former managing editor of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News and Whittier Daily News; K. Connie Kang, longtime L.A. Times reporter; and Vic Nastasia, who had a 40-year career in local TV.

After 64 Years, Nonprofit Communications and Media Network Closes — Remaining Assets Become Society of Professional Journalists’ Scholarship

After 64 years, the Nonprofit Communications and Media Network (NCMN) is ceasing operations and investing its remaining assets of more than $35,000 with the Society of Professional Journalists/Los Angeles Pro Chapter as a new scholarship fund to support future professional journalists for many years.

The scholarship fund, previously awarded and funded by NCMN, will provide an annual scholarship of $1,500 to students who reside in Los Angeles County, Orange County or Ventura County who are currently enrolled in college or have been accepted to college and who will be pursuing a career in journalism. It is named the Nonprofit Communications and Media Network’s Lisa A. Davidson Memorial Scholarship supported by contributions to the Ruth Collander Endowment Fund. Both Davidson and Collander had media careers and supported NCMN.

When the now-NCMN was founded in 1955 with its previous name, the Public Interest Radio and Television Educational Society (PIRATES), the organization became a tool for news media to meet their Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements to allocate free air time on public airways to nonprofit organizations. A few decades later the organization changed its name to the Print Interactive Radio and Television Educational Society.

In the late 1980’s FCC deregulation no longer had such requirements. Many media continued their commitment to nonprofit organizations, and do so to this day.

NCMN’s annual media mixer was one of its most popular programs that attracted dozens of prominent news media and nonprofit leaders.

Although participant evaluations consistently reflected very positive feedback about NCMN events, the organization experienced a gradual, long-term decline in membership and program participation, similar to other organizations such as the Publicity Club of Los Angeles (PCLA) and the Entertainment Publicists Professionals Society (EPPS).

Through NCMN’s events, many relationships developed between nonprofit organizations and news media and evolved into news interviews, public affairs talk shows, public service announcements and partnerships.

Contact: Andy Weisser, W: 818.703.6444;
M: 818.451.7847; aweisser@earthlink.net
President/Board Member, Nonprofit Communications and Media Network, www.ncmnetwork.org

Contact: Stephanie Bluestein
President, SPJ/LA

“What’s in a Name: How to Cover Mass Murder” Panel set for Oct. 22 at Los Angeles Press Club

The Society of Professional Journalists Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter and the Los Angeles Press Club will co-host an upcoming panel discussion on how the media can better cover mass murder events like terrorist and shooter attacks.

Media ethicists, survivor advocates and some journalists have begun pushing back against excessive attention on the perpetrators at the expense of the victims—recognizing that too much media coverage can inspire prospective killers to try and “rack up a higher score” in future attacks.

In response, some police agencies and news organizations are adopting policies to minimize or even omit names and other information about the perpetrators. Others defend current practice based on the public’s right to know, and to help understand the attackers’ motives and potentially deter future assaults.

WHAT: SPJ/LA and LAPC will present the program, “What’s In A Name: How To Cover Mass Murder”

WHO: The panel will include:

Brooke Binkowski is an award-winning journalist who began as a broadcast reporter, working for CNN, KNX and KPCC before expanding to photography and print. She then dove into anti-disinformation work in 2015 as managing editor for the fact-checking website Snopes.com, guiding it through the 2016 presidential campaign and election and beyond. She is now managing editor at debunking site TruthOrFiction.com.


Anita Busch is the media consultant for the No Notoriety campaign, an effort to protect the public and discourage copycat crimes by minimizing media attention on shooters and terrorists. In recent years, Busch has been a dedicated victims’ advocate; her cousin was one of the 12 people killed in the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado that also left 70 injured. A reporter and editor covering the entertainment industry for more than 30 years, as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times she was illegally wiretapped and her life threatened by private detective Anthony Pellicano, who went on to serve time in prison.

Kelli Sager is a First Amendment attorney who for more than 30 years has represented media and entertainment companies and individual journalists, including broadcasters, cable companies, film producers and distributors, newspapers and magazines, authors, and Web publishers. Honored as one of the top lawyers in her field, she is a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s Los Angeles office.

Evan Wagner has been a police officer with more than a decade of law enforcement experience. He has also been a public relations strategist and practitioner for nearly 20 years for the private sector, government entities, as well as political candidates and leaders.





Joel Bellman, a digital columnist and former political communications aide and print and award-winning broadcast journalist in Los Angeles for 35 years, will moderate.

WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Los Angeles Press Club
6500 Sunset Blvd. (cross street: Hudson Avenue)
Hollywood, CA 90028

PARKING: Available at 6464 Sunset Blvd., next door to the venue ($10) and on the street

COST: Free and open to the public, but RSVP is required. Light refreshments will be served.

RSVP: Please send to info@lapressclub.org and put “how to cover mass murder” in the subject line.

CONTACT: Joel Bellman

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SPJ/LA in coordination with ONA/LA and Santa Monica College Associates hosts a VR Journalism workshop led by USC Annenberg Professor Robert Hernandez

Robert Hernandez (aka WebJournalist) will give a short presentation on how technology can help journalism audiences better understand marginalized communities.

Hernandez explores and develops the intersection of technology and journalism. An Associate Professor of Professional Practice at USC Annenberg, the ‘hackademic’ has worked with augmented reality (AR), wearables, and virtual reality (VR), and he and his students produce award-winning VR experiences under their brand, Jovrnalism™.

Hands-on demos of VR stories and equipment follow the presentation.

WHAT: Building Empathy through Virtual Reality Journalism

WHO: Led by USC Annenberg Associate Professor of Professional Practice, Robert Hernandez

WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, September 26, 2019

WHERE: Santa Monica College Center for Media and Design
1660 Stewart Street
Santa Monica
Auditorium 180

PARKING: Parking is available in garage on Pennsylvania at Stewart Street. Please ONLY park in spaces NOT marked ‘Staff.’

COST: The event itself is free and open to the public.

RSVP: ashanti.blaize@gmail.com

Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins