SPJ/LA postpones March 25 Distinguished Journalists Awards banquet

The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has postponed its 44th annual Distinguished Journalists Awards banquet, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The banquet will be rescheduled at a later date. Refunds will be available for ticket buyers, sponsors and banquet program advertisers.

SPJ/LA took this action in light of multiple health advisories issued by city, county and state agencies working to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The annual banquet honors Southern California journalists in print, broadcast and digital media.

This year’s Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet event had been slated to feature Jennifer Medina, national political correspondent for The New York Times, delivering the keynote address.

SPJ/LA will work in the coming months to find another evening to honor this year’s Distinguished Journalist honorees: Southern California News Group senior editor Tom Bray; Maria L. La Ganga, Metro reporter for The Los Angeles Times; retired KNX1070 reporter and anchor Diane Thompson; KTLA assignment manager Vance Scott; and Lynell George, journalist and essayist, as well as Freedom of Information Award honoree David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition.

Contact: Sarah Favot

SPJ/LA to host “Know Your Rights” workshop on March 14

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host a free workshop titled “Know Your Rights: A Guide to Public Records, Court Access and Publishing Without Fear.”

The workshop, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 14 at Santa Monica College will feature veteran media law attorney Susan Seager, who will discuss strategies for navigating libel law, seeking public records and obtaining court documents.

Seager is the head of the Press Freedom and Transparency practice at the University of California at Irvine’s Intellectual Property, Arts and Technology Clinic. She has defended journalists from lawsuits and worked to unseal court records and government documents.

A former journalist herself, Seager has written for the LA Weekly, the LA Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. She received the Freedom of Information Award from SPJ/LA in 2004.

The workshop is being sponsored by SPJ/LA’s Freedom of Information Committee.

WHAT: Know Your Rights: A Guide to Public Records, Court Access and Publishing Without Fear.

WHO: Led by media law attorney Susan Seager

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Saturday, March 14

WHERE: Santa Monica College Center of Media and Design Room 102
1660 Stewart St. Santa Monica, CA 90404.


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

RSVP: spjlosangeles@gmail.com

CONTACT: Matt Tinoco, FOI Committee chair: 213-290-2318


SPJ/LA Annual Holiday Party is on Dec. 11

Happy Holidays! Journalists who are dear to us, gather near to us once more…

You are invited to join the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for our festive annual holiday party on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 in Hollywood.

Enjoy the beautiful holiday atmosphere as we gather to celebrate the season at El Floridita restaurant. The party this year includes a generous buffet holiday feast, music and a no-host bar.

When: Wednesday, Dec 11, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: El Floridita restaurant, 1253 Vine St, Hollywood, CA 90038 (Corner of Vine and Fountain)

Cost: $20 for SPJ/LA members and $25 for non-members (check or credit card only)

Parking: In Vine Fountain Plaza parking lot

RSVP: spjlosangeles@gmail.com
RSVP now. Space is limited!

Contact: Navid Nonahal (818) 798-8094

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Video: “What’s in a Name: How to Cover Mass Murder”

The Society of Professional Journalists Los Angeles Pro Chapter and the Los Angeles Press Club held a panel entitled “What’s in a Name: How to Cover Mass Murder” on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 at the L.A. Press Club.

The panelists were Kelli Sager, a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s Los Angeles office, Evan Wagner, a law enforcement officer and public relations strategist, and Brooke Binkowski, managing editor at TruthorFiction.com. Joel Bellman, SPJ/LA board member and Ethics Chair, moderated.

BELLMAN PROGRAM from Los Angeles Press Club on Vimeo.

“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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