Meeting Minutes: November 5, 2018

SPJ/LA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
7 p.m.
Louise’s Trattoria
10645 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Present: David Zahniser, Stephanie Bluestein, Sarah Favot, Roberta Wax, Frank Mottek, Alice Walton, Julia Wick, Lori Streifler, Kathryn Mora, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, Richard Saxton

Bluestein called the meeting to order at 7:16 pm.

I. Approval of minutes from Oct. 1 meeting. Zahniser moved to approve minutes. Favot seconded. Bluestein, Walton, Streifler, Blaize-Hopkins abstained from the approval of minutes because they were not present. All others voted in favor.

II. President’s report –Bluestein said that she wrote a letter on behalf of the local chapter addressed to the task force that is considering changes in sponsorship. This task force is supposed to bring something to the national SPJ board by December 1. A dinner will be held on Thursday 11/8 at Taix with Carol Hendrickson, the widow of Dick Hendrickson, our board member and treasurer who died in July. There were some issues with the delivery of checks from the 2017 scholarships. The group is tentatively planning on January 26, 2019 for next year’s retreat.

III. Treasurer’s report – Marcellino reported on the bank balance as of Nov. 1. We are using our PayPal account and bank account to accept donations for the Hendrickson scholarship. There are about $300 in fees through the PayPal donations. Zahniser made a motion to cover the PayPal fees. Walton moved to second. All voted in favor. Marcellino also circulated an amended Oct. 1 report because of a check that came through the day before the Oct. meeting and was therefore not included in the report. Marcellino also detailed some things about the Morgan Stanley account. Zahniser made a motion to approve the document requested by Marcellino in order to have two people have access to the Morgan Stanley account. Wick seconded. Marcellino abstained. All others voted in favor. Saxton moved to receive the treasurer’s report, Favot seconded. All voted in favor.

IV. Standing/Ad Hoc Committees
a. Awards –Streifler said that the committee will be meeting on November 16 to come up with a slate to vote on.
b. Banquet – Walton had no update.
c. Courts – Marcellino provided an update about the OC courts transparency issue.
d. Diversity – Lopez was not present.
e. Ethics – Bellman not present.
f. FOI – Zahniser had no update.
g. Generation J – Blaize-Hopkins is planning a social media mobile journalism panel in the spring.
h. Membership – Marcellino showed a sample mug and the group felt that it did, in fact, meet the requirements of a theoretical SPJ/LA mug. Marcellino is happy to store the mugs at her house.
i. Nominations – Bray was not present. He asked Bluestein to share that he is gathering candidates for the board and asked the board to share information on anyone he or she thinks is a good candidate. The election will be in December sometime.
j. Scholarships – Saxton had nothing to report.

V. Old Business
a. 180/360 VR workshop on Oct. 30 – Blaize-Hopkins said that the workshop was very interesting. There were about 15 people there.
b. Gender Gap Panel on Nov. 13 – Lopez

VI. New Business
a. Dick Hendrickson Memorial Scholarship Fund – Bluestein and Saxton
b. Board election in December – Bray
c. Holiday Party– Mottek said that the holiday party will be on Wednesday, December 5. Xian, the Chinese place in Beverly Hills that was previously under consideration, will not be big enough. The party will therefore be held at El Floridita, “ a nice little Cuban restaurant in a strip plaza.” There is parking there. Armando Jr., who runs the restaurant, is a great guy and Mottek has known Armando Jr. since Armando Jr.’s father, Armando Sr., ran the place. Journalist Jennifer York can do music for the party. Mottek made a motion to hire Jennifer York for the holiday party for $300. Mora seconded. All voted in favor.
d. Favot plans for a PIO panel on January 22 at the Association. Elena Stern from LA Public Works and Nicole Nishida from the Sheriff’s Department are confirmed.

VII. Adjournment
Marcellino moved to adjourn at 9:04 pm. Wax seconded, all others voted in favor.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 at Louise’s Trattoria

Panel Discussion: Reporters and PIOs at the Crossroads of Information

A series of studies by SPJ National show that reporters are finding it increasingly difficult to access information and conduct interviews through public information officers.

“Over the last 25 years or so, there has been a relatively rapid trend toward prohibiting staff members from communicating to journalists without reporting to some authority, often public information officers,” SPJ reports.

The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is hosting a panel discussion on the studies, including how to find ways to improve relationships between the holders of public information and the journalists who are seeking it out.

Who: Nicole Nishida, public information officer, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Elena Stern, senior public information director, Los Angeles Department of Public Works

Lisa Derderian, public information officer, City of Pasadena

Lauren Gold, public information officer, City of Anaheim, moderator

When: Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Association lounge, 110 East 6th Street, downtown Los Angeles.

Cost: Free and open to the public

Parking: Commercial lot at 545 S. Main St., Los Angeles

Contact: Sarah Favot,


SPJ/LA Announces Newly Elected Board Members

LOS ANGELES – The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists elected seven members to serve three-year terms on the group’s 15-member board, beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

Carolina Garcia, recently retired editor of the Los Angeles Daily News who is now an adjunct professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Jason Lewis, publisher of Los Angeles Standard, were newly elected to the board.

Five incumbents were re-elected. They are: Joel Bellman, freelance journalist; Stephanie Stassel Bluestein, associate professor of journalism at CSUN; Sarah Favot, freelance journalist; Navid Nonahal, freelance journalist; and David Zahnizer, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.

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.

SPJ/LA Names Distinguished Journalist Honorees for 2018

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will honor five local journalists and a First Amendment activist at its 43rd annual Distinguished Journalists banquet in the spring.

The Distinguished Journalist honorees are longtime regional journalists practicing in print, radio, television and digital media. They are: Rich Archbold, public editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram; Steve Padilla, Column One editor and Metpro director of the Los Angeles Times; KFI-AM news editor Nicole M. Campbell; KMEX-TV Univision 34 news anchor, reporter and host Gabriela Teissier; and David Dayen, freelance journalist and author.

The Freedom of Information award will go to Scott Sanders, an attorney with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office.

SPJ/LA presents the Distinguished Journalist awards to members of the profession who demonstrate good news judgment, a strong sense of ethics and a passion for getting the story right. Honorees have achieved a record of career accomplishments. For nearly four decades, the chapter has recognized reporters, editors and photographers in print and broadcast journalism. Since 1997, the chapter has honored journalists in four categories: television, radio, newspapers with a circulation of less than 90,000 and newspapers with a circulation of 90,000 or more.

The Distinguished Work in New Media award, now simply the Distinguished Journalist award in the digital category, was created in 2008 and is given to a journalist who uses digital media’s unique characteristics and capabilities while striving to uphold traditional journalism’s highest standards of honesty, accuracy, responsibility and accountability.

The Freedom of Information 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.

The awards banquet will be held March 20, 2019, at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets for the event are:
$100 for SPJ/LA member
$140 for non-members
$80 for students
Tables of 10 are available for $1,000

A no-host cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. To make a reservation, contact Alice Walton at or (310) 595-5612.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available, as are program ads to congratulate this year’s honorees.

Distinguished Journalist Award Winners

Print (circulation under 90,000)
For four decades, the most enduring constant at the 121-year-old Long Beach Press-Telegram has been Rich Archbold, a tireless guy with an incandescent smile, a Cubs cap and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.

Archbold became managing editor of the PT in 1978 after 13 years at The Miami Herald as a public affairs reporter, city editor and managing editor of the paper’s Broward County bureau.

Archbold was at the helm while the PT was at its biggest and most vibrant, when the city boomed and downtown blossomed, when the Queen Mary was wooed to the harbor. He also held the wheel during the worst of times — when the region’s mammoth Naval base closed, when scores of jobs disappeared and when downtown fell into disrepair and was beset by quick fixes. The whole time, Archbold helmed award-winning journalism, made the tough calls and taught scores of young journalists how to get it done.

After deciding to take it easier, sort of, he became the PT’s public editor in 2013, leading the local Opinion pages, crafting editorials and writing a column a week — usually more.

Archbold stepped away from his Opinion duties earlier this year. He still writes at least a column a week — usually more — and shows up to represent the PT at nearly every banquet and public meeting in town.

Print (circulation more than 90,000)
Steve Padilla is Column One editor and Metpro director of the Los Angeles Times. Column One is the newspaper’s showcase front-page feature and Metpro is a two-year fellowship aimed at promoting diversity in the newsroom.

Padilla joined the Times in 1987 as a police reporter but soon moved on to editing. Most recently, he was enterprise editor on the foreign-national desk. He serves as a writing coach and devotes his Twitter feed (@StevePadilla2) to writing technique.

Before the Times, he was a reporter with the San Diego Union and editor of Hispanic Link Weekly Report, a national newsletter on Latino affairs.

He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where he earned his B.A. in history and print journalism.

Nicole M. Campbell started her journalism career on twin tracks in the Los Angeles area, working at KNX-AM and the Signal newspaper in Santa Clarita. She also worked at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune before living out a dream to work as a waitress at a diner in the Midwest. When she was finally done telling customers to kiss her grits, she moved back to L.A. and got a job at KFI-AM, where she writes the words other people say.

Campbell is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a proud native of the Great-1-8 (she’s old enough to remember when the Valley was 213.) Her special skill sets include knowing the location of every Wendy’s within a 25-mile radius of her house and being able to rap the first verse of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise.”

Gabriela Teissier serves as host of Univision Los Angeles’ morning show, “A Primera Hora (At First Hour)” that airs weekdays from 5 to 7 a.m. Univision Los Angeles’s KMEX-TV is the nation’s No.1 Spanish-language station.

She is a six-time Emmy awardee and received “Best News Anchor” recognition from the LA Press Club. She is also a Telly Award recipient. Teissier was recognized with the Othli Award, the highest honor that the Mexican government gives outside Mexico’s territory to individuals who have aided, empowered or positively affected the lives of Mexican nationals in other countries. The National Hispanic Media Coalition honored her with its Excellence in Broadcast Journalism Impact Award.

She is passionate about environmental, social and education topics.

Teissier has served on the board of the American Heart Association as well as the board of directors of ACT Today, a not-for-profit organization that provides therapy and services for families with people with autism.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Gabriela grew up speaking Spanish, German and English, becoming fully trilingual before she moved to the United States. She lives in California with her two sons and her husband.

David Dayen was working as a television editor in 2002 when he discovered the world of political blogs. It didn’t take long for him to get hooked and start his own.

After the 2012 elections, Dayen stepped away from blogging and became a freelance journalist. Today, he is the Leonard Goodman Investigative Fellow at In These Times magazine. He also regularly contributes to The Intercept, The New Republic, The American Prospect and the Los Angeles Times. He writes on a broad range of topics, primarily public corruption, white-collar crime, economics and finance.

Over his career, Dayen has written for Salon, Pacific Standard, The Washington Monthly, Vice, The Huffington Post, Democracy Journal, The Fiscal Times, The Nation, The Guardian, Politico Magazine, Capital and Main and many more. He has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, CNBC, NPR and Pacifica Radio.

In 2016, Dayen wrote “Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud,” about the people who uncovered the routine use of fraudulent documents in foreclosure cases. Chain of Title won the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize for a debut work of non-fiction that serves the public interest. His second book will focus on the effect of corporate monopolies in modern American life. Dayen has also contributed to two anthology books: “We Are Wisconsin,” about the labor uprising in Wisconsin in 2011, and “Hacking Politics,” about the fight against an Internet censorship bill. He recently edited and co-authored a short e-book called “Fat Cat: The Steve Mnuchin Story,” about the life and times of Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary.

Dayen lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mary and fox terrier mix Sophie.

Freedom of Information
Scott Sanders has been an attorney with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office for 26 years. Sanders was co-counsel in People v. Scott Dekraai, a case brought against the worst mass killer in the county’s history. Dekraai ultimately pleaded guilty to killing eight people at a Seal Beach beauty salon in 2011.

In January 2014, the defense filed a 505-page motion detailing the systemically improper use of jailhouse informants. Judge Thomas Goethals allowed the defense to call more than four dozen prosecutors and members of law enforcement during hearings held in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

In 2015, Judge Goethals recused the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office from the Dekraai prosecution, and in 2017 he prohibited the prosecution from seeking the death penalty as a “remedial sanction necessitated by ongoing prosecutorial misconduct related to discovery proceedings.”

In a second death penalty case, Sanders filed a 754-page motion detailing a more than 30-year history in Orange County of jailhouse informant-related misconduct. The resulting scandal has thus far resulted in new trials, dismissed charges, reduced sentences for 18 defendants and a regime change at the top of the D.A.’s office.

Freedom of the press comes in many forms. Sanders became an unexpected folk hero to many in the media as he unraveled the tangled history of the county’s illegal and systemic use of jailhouse informants to tilt the scales of justice. While the OC Sheriff’s Department and OCDA’s office did everything in their power to block the release of crucial documents that shed light on the malfeasance, Sanders worked tirelessly for years – both in court and behind the scenes — to ensure the truth came to light. Sanders understood that a free and well-informed press is an essential conduit to the public. His invaluable contributions allowed the public to monitor, scrutinize and ultimately hold public officials accountable.

SPJ/LA Will Conduct Board Elections Online: Voting Will Take Place Dec. 17-19

SPJ/LA will conduct its election for open Board of Directors positions online.

You should receive an email late Sunday, Dec. 16 with a link to your online ballot, which includes information on all the candidates. Voting will open at 12 a.m. Monday, Dec. 17 and close at midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

Results will be announced the following week.

New board members will begin their three-year terms in January.

The chapter used member information provided by national headquarters for the ballot list. Members were required to renew or sign up by Dec. 10 to be eligible to vote.

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