The Society of Professional Journalists Has Disappointed Us

For Immediate Release
December 11, 2018

Dear members,

The Society of Professional Journalists has disappointed us.

Earlier this year, we asked SPJ to reject dollars from entities whose actions are at odds with SPJ’s journalistic mission and to use the SPJ Code of Ethics as a guide to vet donations.

On Dec. 1, SPJ ignored that request when it adopted an open-door sponsorship policy that welcomes dollars from everyone and accepts their ideas for panels at the Excellence in Journalism conference.

This means that past sponsors, like the Charles Koch Institute, could continue to sponsor and pitch panels, allowing them to buy legitimacy, influence and a platform at a conference attended by hundreds of journalists from across the nation.

The Koch Institute, which sponsored a FOIA panel at EIJ2018, is closely affiliated with Koch Industries, which until 2017 ran, a website largely devoted to attacking and discrediting journalists who reported critically on Koch Industries and its activities.

We believe it is fundamentally incompatible with SPJ’s journalistic mission and code of ethics to accept money from entities that have attacked the integrity and legitimacy of journalists and journalism organizations. And we are baffled by SPJ’s refusal to see how this undermines our credibility.

It’s a journalist’s job to hold those in power accountable, and we have sought to hold SPJ’s board accountable. In response, SPJ has used tactics those in power often use to keep reporters out: holding closed-door meetings, refusing to share documents and, in the worst case, being untruthful about its process.

To its credit, SPJ did provide a forum to hear chapters’ feedback. However, the policy it ultimately issued indicates that SPJ has either not acknowledged those concerns, not taken them seriously, or chosen to ignore them.

SPJ should lead in establishing and honoring “best practices” in journalism, not only as to journalists’ professional conduct, but in its own conduct as an organization dedicated to promoting professional journalism. In this, SPJ has failed us.

We want to increase SPJ’s transparency and accountability to us — its members. To that end, we ask for your support on a resolution to require SPJ to disclose contracts with sponsors to its chapters. We plan to submit that resolution at EIJ2019.

The Chicago Headline Club board
SPJ/Los Angeles board

Photos: SPJ/LA’s Annual Holiday Party

Fun was had by all Wednesday night at SPJ/LA’s annual Holiday Party at El Floridita in Hollywood.


Be Eligible to Vote for Your SPJ/LA Board Members

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host an online election for its Board of Directors soon.

National members who are also a part of the local Los Angeles chapter are eligible to vote in the election. Don’t miss your chance to be counted! Log onto SPJ’s website to make sure your information is correct.

Because only SPJ/LA chapter members may vote, if you joined SPJ national but haven’t yet joined the L.A. chapter, please log onto the national website’s membership page or SPJ/LA’s membership page and join today. Annual dues for the Greater Los Angeles Pro chapter are $20.

Like everything in journalism, there’s a deadline: please update your contact information before Dec. 10 to be included. The online election will be open from Dec. 17 to Dec. 19.

If you need to renew your membership soon, why not do it now? Get that professional business expense deduction onto your 2018 tax returns!

For any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Tom Bray via email at

Join us for SPJ/LA’s Annual Holiday Party

‘Tis the season… for news and good cheer!

You are invited to join the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for our festive annual holiday party on Wednesday, December 5th in Hollywood. Enjoy the beautiful holiday atmosphere as we gather to celebrate the season at El Floridita. The party this year includes the Jennifer York Quartet, a generous dinner buffet holiday feast and a no-host cash bar.

Space is limited.

SPJ/LA Holiday Party with the Jennifer York Quartet

6:30 – 9 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018

El Floridita restaurant, 1253 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Corner of Vine and Fountain)

El Floridita

$25 for SPJ/LA members and $40 for non-members (check or credit card only)
Non-members who join SPJ/LA the night of the event will enjoy the member price.
Give yourself the gift of SPJ/LA membership at

No host cash bar

In Vine Fountain Plaza parking lot

Please RSVP at

Navid Nonahal
(818) 317-2234

Meeting Minutes: October 1, 2018

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Agenda
Monday, October 1, 2018
7 p.m.
Louise’s Trattoria
10645 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Present: Dave Zahniser, Roberta Wax, Frank Mottek, Kathryn Mora, Elizabeth Marcellino, Richard Saxton, Sarah Favot, Lori Streifler, Ricardo Lopez, Julia Wick.

Favot called the meeting to order at 7:22.

I. Approval of minutes from Sept. 4 meeting. Saxton moved to approve. Zahniser seconded the motion, Wax abstained.

II. President’s report – Favot read a report from Bluestein, including a summary of the conference. Wax spoke about how proud she was of Bluestein’s work at the conference and said that Navid Nonahal used her acceptance of award to give a beautiful eulogy for Dick Hendrickson, our board member and treasurer who died in July.

III. Treasurer’s report – Marcellino read the treasurer’s report and reported on the bank balances. The only substantial expenses over the last month were paying for our scholarships and putting a deposit on the Omni Hotel for the 2019 banquet. We currently have about 850 dollars (including a pledge) for the Hendrickson scholarships. Zahniser moved to receive the treasurer’s report. Wax seconded. All approved.

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees –
a. Awards –Streifler gave a short report and said that the release calling for nominations will go out on Oct. 3.
b. Banquet – No report.
c. Courts – Streifler raised an issue that has been happening at the OC courts and others discussed looking into it to see if other reporters had faced similar issues.
d. Diversity – Lopez is working on finalizing a date for the November event at USC. The date and place will hopefully be finalized by the end of the week. Panel will be on pay disparities that have led to some of the union efforts. Wick will make a flyer for the event when the date is finalized.
e. Ethics – No report.
f. FOI – No report.
g. Generation J – No report.
h. Membership – No report.
i. Nominations – Favot said that Bray had said that he had some ideas.
j. Scholarships – No report.

V. Old Business
a. Susan Zakin Book Signing – Favot said that the crowd was relatively small.
b. Long Beach Post mixer – Walton was not at the meeting but had reported that it was well attended. About 30 people showed up and about half were Long Beach Post employees. Walton thought that the event succeeded because it had a built-in audience and was a timely topic.

VI. New Business
a. Possible Grading the Media event – Bluestein was not present
b. Holiday Party– Mottek has tentatively selected Xian Chinese restaurant on Canon. It is “an upscale Shanghai grill.” Mottek said that he is concerned about the size of the space but that, pricewise, it is “very attractive.” The other option is El Floridita in Hollywood, which serves Cuban food. Mottek is still waiting on a price for that venue. The actual Shanghai Grill, home to last year’s Christmas party, has unfortunately closed.

VII. Adjournment
Zahniser moved to adjourn at 8:23. Lopez seconded. Approved.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Louise’s Trattoria