Meeting Minutes: January 11, 2020

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Retreat Minutes
Jan. 11, 2020
9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Present: Penny Arevalo, Joel Bellman, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, Stephanie Bluestein, Tom Bray, Alexi Chidbachian, Sarah Favot, Xavier Higgs, Susan Jacobs, Elizabeth Marcellino, Kathryn Mora, Frank Mottek, Navid Nonahal, Nathan Solis, Lori Streifler, Matt Tinoco, Roberta Wax, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.

I. Breakfast and Coffee

II. Minutes — Windsor moved to approve the minutes for the Dec. 2 board meeting, Blaize-Hopkins seconded. Motion carried.

III. Treasurer’s Report – Favot moved to accept the report, Nonahal seconded. Motion carried.

IV. President’s Report
• Welcome – Zahniser welcomed the new board members for 2020. He said he’d like to see SPJ/LA have a transformational year in 2020, expanding our volunteer base and strengthening some of our operations.
• Approval of chapter officers — Favot nominated Blaize-Hopkins to the serve as vice president, Arevalo seconded and the motion carried. Nonahal nominated Marcellino as treasurer, Mottek seconded and the motion carried. Marcellino nominated Solis as secretary and Bellman seconded. Motion carried.
• Slate of associate board members– Favot nominated Chidbachian, Higgs, Mora, Streifler, Tinoco and Windsor as associate board members for the 2020 calendar year. Mottek seconded.

V. 2020 SPJ/LA committee assignments. Zahniser said he has not yet made committee assignments, in part because he wanted to have a discussion first about our 2020 priorities – a conversation that could touch on what committees we have.

VI. SPJ/LA: What we do well, what we could improve – Board members talked about SPJ/LA’s strengths, including programming, advocacy, partnerships with other journalism organizations and mixers to bring Southern California journalists together. However, some felt SPJ/LA could work more on the promotion of its events – both before and after they occur – and communication with its members and on social media. Board members discussed the idea of creating a new committee to focus on how SPJ/LA communicates, upgrading our web site and redesigning our logo. The board also discussed the creation of an advocacy committee and the eliminating of the courts committee, folding those duties into FOI. Bluestein pointed out that certain committee changes will require amendments to the bylaws, which takes additional time.

VII. Snack break

VIII. Programming ideas – Board members offered up several possible events, including reporter/producer safety in the field, newsroom trauma, gentrification’s impact on communities, and a How We Did It series of events featuring journalists who explain how they covered a particular story. Workshop possibilities a Know Your Rights session on public access/public information; coverage of LGBTQ communities; coverage of suicide and mental health; media literacy for youth. Jacobs raised the idea of helping students prepare for job interviews. Board members said they want more partnerships with other journalism groups and more online video footage of our events, possibly in a podcast format.

IX. Old business
• Banquet update – Favot reported on initial efforts to secure tables and ads for the Distinguished Journalists Awards banquet, which will be held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, March 25. Zahniser said the search for a banquet speaker continues.
• Holiday Party – Mottek reported that the holiday party, held at El Floridita in East Hollywood, was a success. Around 60 people attended. The board had lowered the entry price for non-members to $25. As a result, the event cost the chapter $512. Bluestein suggested having dessert available in future years.
• Chapter Election – Bray reported asked for feedback on the 2019 election for the SPJ/LA board of directors. Nearly 50 people voted, about the same number of people as in 2018.

X. Adjournment. Windsor moved, Mottek and Bellman seconded. Motion carried.

Meeting Minutes: December 2, 2019

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, 7:15 p.m.
Maria’s Italian Kitchen
10761 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Present: Penny Arevalo, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, Stephanie Bluestein, Tom Bray, Sarah Favot, Jason Lewis, Elizabeth Marcellino, Navid Nonahal, Richard Saxton, Nathan Solis, Lori Streifler, Roberta Wax, Julia Wick, Natalie Windsor and David Zahniser.

I. Approval of board minutes — Oct. 7 and Nov. 4. Zahniser moved to approve the October minutes, Saxton seconded. Zahniser moved to approve the November minutes, Saxton seconded. Motions carries.

II. Treasurer’s report – Marcellino — Nonahal moved to accept the treasurer’s report, Windsor seconded. Motion passes.

III. President’s report – Bluestein reported that chapter presidents and other leaders are upset with the lack of transparency surrounding the hiring of a new SPJ national executive director.

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees –
a. Awards –Streifler and Wick. The board selected the winners of the Distinguished Journalists Awards for 2020. Winners will be informed individually before a news release goes out.
b. Banquet – Wax. The banquet is set for March 25, 2020 at the Omni in downtown Los Angeles. The board discussed possible keynote speakers and new efforts to bring in speakers from other parts of the country. Zahniser moved to have the board authorize the banquet committee to spend up to $1,000 to pay for a keynote speaker’s travel costs and overnight lodging the night of the banquet. Seconded by Blaize-Hopkins. Motion passes.
c. Courts – Marcellino (no report)
d. Diversity – Lewis. Xavier Higgs, past president of NABJ, has offered to help with the committee next year.
e. Ethics – Bellman (no report)
f. FOI – Zahniser (no report)
g. Generation J – Blaize-Hopkins (no report)
h. Membership – Nonahal (no report)
i. Nominations – Bray The chapter has four open seats in this year’s board elections, with seven potential candidates. The deadline to submit names is Dec. 7.
j. Scholarships – Saxton (no report)

V. Old Business

VI. New Business
a. Election of new chapter president – Bluestein. Bluestein nominated Zahniser, seconded by Wick. Motion carries.
b. Holiday party – Mottek – The party will be held Dec. 11 at El Floridita in East Hollywood. RSVPs are still coming in. No live music this year.

VII. Adjournment
The board adjourned at 9:29 p.m. in memory of Alan Hagman, deputy director of photography for the L.A. Times; Joe Sullivan, retired TV producer and writer at Channel 2 in L.A. and who later taught at USC; and Louis Brewster, covered motor sports for Southern California News Group.

Next meeting:
Board retreat in January 2020
Date and location TBA

New York Times Reporter Jennifer Medina to Give Keynote Address at SPJ/LA Banquet

Jennifer Medina.  Photo credit: Earl Wilson

The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is thrilled to announce that Jennifer Medina, national political correspondent for The New York Times, will deliver the keynote address at this year’s Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet.

The event will be held March 25 in downtown Los Angeles, honoring longtime regional journalists in print, broadcast and digital media.
Medina is currently covering the 2020 presidential campaign, with a focus on the West. Her reporting looks at how race, immigration and gender are shaping the nation’s politics and public discourse.

During her time in California, Medina has written about immigration raids in the Inland Empire, Disneyland employees living in their cars and the state’s chronic public education problems. She has covered breaking news extensively, including several mass shootings, and is often called upon to find humanity amid tragedy.

Medina joined The New York Times in 2002. She grew up in Riverside, graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in print journalism and political science. She speaks Spanish and Hebrew.

Proceeds from the banquet go toward scholarships for journalism students. The banquet has previously hosted such acclaimed journalists as Walter Cronkite, Andrea Mitchell, Ted Koppel, Linda Ellerbee and others.

This year’s Distinguished Journalist honorees are: Maria L. La Ganga, Metro reporter for The Los Angeles Times; Southern California News Group senior editor Tom Bray; retired KNX1070 reporter and anchor Diane Thompson; KTLA assignment manager Vance Scott; and Lynell George, journalist and essayist.

The Freedom of Information Award will go to David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition.
The Distinguished Journalists Awards banquet will be held on Wednesday, March 25 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. A no-host cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the event are:

  • $100 for SPJ/LA members
  • $140 for non-members
  • $80 for students
  • Tables of 10 are available for $1,000 

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. The three levels of sponsorship are:

  • Platinum ($5,000): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, event signage, logo included on the website and in emails, one complimentary banquet table.
  • Gold ($2,500): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, logo included on the website and in emails, five complimentary banquet tickets.
  • Silver ($1,500): Acknowledgement in the banquet program, logo included on the website and in emails, two complimentary banquet tickets. 

You can also support SPJ/LA by purchasing an ad in the banquet program:

  • Back page program ad: $600
  • Full page ad: $350
  • Half-page ad: $250
  • Quarter-page ad: $150 

The Distinguished Journalists Award, created in 1976, honors journalists who have achieved a record of accomplishment over a number of years. The award recognizes journalists in television, radio, digital media, newspapers with a circulation of 90,000 or more, and newspapers with a circulation of less than 90,000.

The Freedom of Information Award goes to people – typically not journalists — who have championed freedom of the press and helped further the free flow of information.

For details on sponsorship or to make a reservation, please contact Sarah Favot at or 617-756-5643.

SPJ/LA Announces Newly Elected Board Members

LOS ANGELES – The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is proud to announce the election of four members to serve on the group’s 15-member board beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Three members were newly elected to the board:


  • Penny Arevalo, city editor of the San Gabriel Valley News Group (Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Whittier Daily News).




  • Susan Jacobs, news media services specialist in the strategic communications department at Cal State Long Beach.





  • Nathan Solis, a reporter with the legal news wire Courthouse News Service covering Southern California politics, breaking news and legal proceedings.



A fourth member was re-elected:


  • Elizabeth Marcellino, a reporter covering county politics and criminal courts for City News Service and freelancer.



The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to promoting high standards of ethical behavior and encouraging the free practice of journalism. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. The Greater Los Angeles professional chapter was chartered 25 years later in 1934.

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Meeting Minutes: November 4, 2019

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Agenda
Monday, Nov. 4, 2019
7 p.m.
Maria’s Italian Kitchen
10761 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Present: Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, Stephanie Bluestein, Sarah Favot, Kathryn Mora, Richard Saxton, Nathan Solis, Lori Streifler, Roberta Wax, Julia Wick, Natalie Windsor, David Zahniser.

I. Approval of minutes from Oct. 7 meeting – Deferred

II. President’s report – Bluestein
Bluestein reported the Nonprofit Communications and Media Network mixer event was a dignified, meaningful farewell for their organization.
She thanked the board members who attended. The group is happy that we are stewards of its finances for scholarships. We have received the check from SPJ Foundation for the transfer of the finances. The board thanked Bluestein for her efforts to make this happen.

III. Treasurer’s report – Marcellino
Wick moved to receive the Treasurer’s Report. Blaize-Hopkins seconded. Approved

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees –
a. Awards –Streifler and Wick
Streifler reminded the board we are seeking nominations for our Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet.
b. Banquet – Wax
Wax reported we booked the Omni for Wed. March 25, 2020 for the banquet. There was a discussion about a potential guest speaker.
c. Courts – Marcellino – No report
d. Diversity – Lewis – No report
e. Ethics – Bellman – No report
f. FOI – Zahniser – No report
g. Generation J – Blaize-Hopkins – No report
h. Membership – Nonahal – No report
i. Nominations – Bray Bluestein reported we are planning to hold the elections in mid to late December.
j. Scholarships – Saxton – no report

V. Old Business
The ethics of mass shooting coverage panel on Oct. 22 – Bellman
Bluestein reported about 20-25 people attended the event at the L.A. Press Club. It was an in-depth discussion with engaging speakers and an attentive audience. The event was recorded and posted on our website.

VI. New Business
Holiday party on Dec. 11 at El Floridita – Mottek
Bluestein reported that we have booked El Floridita, the same venue where we held the party last year. There was a discussion about ticket prices.
Zahniser moved that we charge $20 for members and $25 for non-members at the holiday party and opt not to have a band this year. Blaize-Hopkins seconded. Approved

VII. Adjournment
Zahniser moved to adjourn at 8:25 p.m. Wax seconded. Approved.

Next meeting:
Monday, Dec. 2 at Maria’s Italian Kitchen