SPJ/LA: Newspaper closures will hurt communities

The Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Los Angeles chapter, is deeply saddened over the closure of three community newspapers in Los Angeles County: the Glendale News-Press, the Burbank Leader and the La Cañada Valley Sun.

The decision by the California Times, the Los Angeles Times’ parent company, to shutter these publications will harm communities, depriving readers of vital sources of news and information. The closures will also hurt a team of dedicated, hard-working journalists who deserve better amid a national health crisis.

Our hearts go out to those journalists who have lost jobs in these economically challenging times.

SPJ/LA Adds a 6th Scholarship for Aspiring Journalists

SPJ/LA is pleased to announce a new scholarship for aspiring journalism students enrolled in an accredited program in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties for 2020.

The Nonprofit Communications and Media Network’s Lisa A. Davidson Memorial Scholarship, which is supported by contributions to the Ruth Collander Endowment Fund, will be awarded each year to a student who is currently enrolled in college or has been accepted to college in Los Angeles County, Orange County or Ventura County and will be pursuing a career in journalism. The scholarship offers $1,500 to the recipient selected by the SPJ/LA scholarship committee.

With the addition of the Lisa A. Davidson Memorial Scholarship, SPJ/LA now offers six scholarship opportunities to journalism students. Last year, a fifth scholarship was added to honor former SPJ/LA Board Member Richard Hendrickson. With these new scholarships, SPJ/LA will award a total $9,500 this year. Attached is the revised application form for qualified applicants to submit by the deadline, which has been extended to June 1, 2020.

Click here to download a copy of the application.

UPDATE: Scholarship Awards Application Deadline Extended to June 1, 2020

The Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will be awarding its annual scholarships to students pursuing careers in journalism.

Students from Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties who have completed at least their freshman year of college, as well as graduate students from those same counties, are eligible to apply for all scholarships. High school seniors from Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties are eligible to apply for the Bill Farr Memorial Scholarship.

The awards will be announced on or about June 20, 2020.

The financial award will be $2,000 for the following scholarship:

– Richard D. Hendrickson Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is awarded to an enrolled college student pursuing a career in the field of text/print journalism. Richard D. Hendrickson, Ph.D., was an SPJLA Board Member who had a 40-year career as an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor and was an instructor at Cleveland’s John Carroll University, UCLA Extension and CSUN. ($2,000)

The financial award will be $1,500 for each of the following five scholarships:

Nonprofit Communications and Media Network’s Lisa A. Davidson Memorial Scholarship (supported by contributions to the Ruth Collander Endowment Fund) – This scholarship is awarded to a student who is currently enrolled in college or has been accepted to college in Los Angeles County, Orange County or Ventura County and will be pursuing a career in journalism. (Scholarship Award $1,500)

– Ken Inouye Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is awarded to a college journalist of color and is aimed at increasing ethnic diversity in newsrooms. Ken Inouye was a 22-year-old cameraman for the International News Service, covering the Korean War, when he was killed aboard an Army aircraft. ($1,500)

– Helen Johnson Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is awarded to a college student pursuing broadcast journalism. This award honors the late Helen Johnson, a producer of “Channel 4 News Conference” and an associate producer of “Meet the Press.” ($1,500)

– Carl Greenberg Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is awarded to a college student pursuing investigative or political reporting. Carl Greenberg was a political reporter at the Los Angeles Times, famed for being singled out by Richard Nixon as the only reporter who covered him “fairly.” ($1,500)

– Bill Farr Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship is awarded to high school seniors or college students who demonstrate a strong intent to pursue a career in journalism. The award honors the late Bill Farr, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who sat in county jail for 46 days for refusing to tell a judge which lawyers had violated a gag order during the Charles Manson murder trial. ($1,500)

On recommendation of the judges, these awards may be divided among two or more equally promising applicants. Scholarship funding is renewable, but renewal is not automatic. Previous winners who continue to meet eligibility requirements may apply to renew their awards. Renewal requests are considered along with all other scholarship applications and given no preference.

Primarily, awards are based on applicants’ potential to succeed in news media careers. However, financial need is considered if all other qualifications of competing applicants are equal.

Applicants may apply for more than one scholarship by checking all of the appropriate boxes on the form, but no more than one scholarship will be awarded to any applicant. Multiple applications will be discarded. Applicants also must:

– Provide proof of enrollment or acceptance in a journalism program at a two-year or four-year college or university.

  • If your college does not have a journalism program, or if you are not enrolled in a journalism program, you must supply a letter from an adviser to your student media program, student-run campus news outlet or an SPJ member in good standing in your geographic area, verifying that you intend to pursue a career as a professional journalist and that you show strong potential as a journalist.
  • Students completing pre-journalism programs must provide proof they have been admitted to a journalism program.
  • Students must have completed at least their freshman year in college, and have at least one semester to complete in a journalism program after the award of the scholarship.
  • Graduate students in journalism programs are eligible. However, students in fields, such as advertising, public relations or law, are not eligible.

– Reside in or be enrolled at a high school, university or college in Los Angeles, Orange or Ventura counties. Or, if you are enrolled in college in another state, have graduated high school in Los Angeles, Orange or Ventura counties.


COVER SHEET (see below)
Attach your online application, which should contain resume, journalism work samples, and an essay. Be sure your name is on all elements of your submission.

This document should contain a record of your school and/or professional journalism experience, including positions held, (reporter, city editor, etc.), dates you began and ended work for each position and a brief description of your duties (e.g., “feature editor, assigned and edited six to 10 features a week for a staff of four writers”), and a list of references with contact information.

You may include additional information, including journalism honors and awards, scholarships or achievements in any field (art or athletics, for example).

Students may submit their work in traditional formats, such as clips, tear-sheets and prints, or via optical storage devices, such as CD or DVD. Send a self-addressed return envelope with sufficient postage if you want these items returned. Do not send irreplaceable original material.

  • Print: Submit three samples of your best work. 
  • Online and multimedia: provide links to URLs where published.
  • Broadcast: Submit up to three short video and/or audio samples with attachments or links. 
  • Photojournalism: Five or six samples are sufficient, but if you need to send more to show the breadth of your experience, you may do so.

Be sure that your submissions are clearly and accurately identified, with your name and other pertinent information, such as your university, college or high school. You may describe any special circumstances under which the work was done – such as unusually tight deadlines or particularly adverse conditions.

Applicants are required to provide a letter of recommendation from one of their journalism professors or instructors. If you are an incoming college freshman, then provide a letter from a high school teacher with contact information outlining your journalism career goals.

Write no more than 500 words describing your career goals: What specific kind of work do you hope to do in journalism when you graduate and later in your career? What are your expectations as a future practitioner? How will you accomplish your goals? (If you wish for financial need to be considered, include documentation in this statement.)

Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Los Angeles Chapter 2020 scholarships

NAME ________________________________________________________
MAILING ADDRESS______________________________________________
CITY________________________________STATE_______ ZIP__________
TELEPHONE ________________   TWITTER HANDLE ___________________
E-MAIL ADDRESS________________________________________________

Check each of the scholarships for which you are applying:

  • Richard D. Hendrickson Scholarship – text/print scholarship ($2,000).
  • Lisa A. Davidson Memorial Scholarship – journalism enrolled ($1,500).
  • Ken Inouye Scholarship – ethnic diversity scholarship ($1,500).
  • Helen Johnson Scholarship – broadcast journalism ($1,500).
  • Carl Greenberg Scholarship – investigative or political reporting ($1,500).
  • Bill Farr Scholarship – journalism majors or future journalists ($1,500).

University, college (or high school if applying for Bill Farr Memorial Scholarship) ____________________________________________
Major ___________________________Minor ________________________
Grade Point Average (GPA)  ___________Journalism GPA ______________
Degree sought: BA_______ MA_______ Ph.D. ______
Anticipated date of graduation ___________________
Date of birth _________________________________
High school from which you graduated ______________________________
City and state of your high school __________________________________

Applications may be submitted either by regular mail or electronically, using universally readable e-mail attachments. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Deadline is midnight, May 6, 2020. The deadline has been extended to June 1, 2020.

Click here to download a copy of the application.

Send applications by e-mail to Richard Saxton, Scholarship Committee Chair –SPJLAScholarships2020@gmail.com

SPJ/LA Calls On Federal Judge To Open Homeless Lawsuit Proceeding to Media Coverage

Photo courtesy Nathan Solis

SPJ/LA has sent the following letter to the Hon. David O. Carter, Judge of the District Court for the Central District of California, in protest of his judicial order of March 23, 2020 excluding members of the media from covering what he described as a “settlement conference” in a lawsuit. The matter is LA Alliance for Human Rights et al v. City of Los Angeles et al, a lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles aimed at requiring those local governments to accelerate efforts to shelter and house homeless individuals living on the street and particularly vulnerable to illness and infection, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

To: The Honorable David O. Carter, Judge
United States District Court, Central District of California
℅ Kelly Davis, Courtroom Deputy Clerk <Kelly_Davis@cacd.uscourts.gov.>

Dear Judge Carter:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter, to express our deep concern about your order dated March 23, 2020 in the matter of LA Alliance For Human Rights et al v. City of Los Angeles et al, that would limit the number of people permitted to attend the settlement conference scheduled for March 24, 2020.

While we are fully cognizant and respectful of federal, state, local, and judicial directives that limit public gatherings and require a prescribed measure of “social distancing” to ensure public safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, these considerations in no way preclude the attendance of one or more media representatives at important meetings of public officials conducting the public’s business. There is neither need nor precedent for suspending open government and transparency laws in this type of situation, and it is our firm belief that the severe harms far outweigh any purported good from such restrictions.

Your order cited as justification “both the epidemiological dangers of the escalating COVID-19 crisis, and the confidential nature of the settlement discussions.” Whatever the legal merits of the confidentiality argument, there is no acceptable rationale for completely excluding the press, and therefore the public, on the basis of public safety considerations. Assigning a pool reporter to cover a judicial or other governmental proceeding on behalf of all media is a long established and generally unobjectionable practice, and there is no argument to be made that such a proceeding is at heightened risk from a reporter observing appropriate social distancing, or that the reporter would be at any increased risk from appropriately covering such a proceeding.

Therefore, we respectfully request that you reconsider your proposed ban on media attendance at this settlement conference, and at a minimum, agree to admit at least one pool reporter to represent media and public participation in the conduct of this important public business.

Thank you for your attention to our request.

Joel Bellman
Chair, Advocacy Committee
Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter

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