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 AliceMWalton@gmail.com 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.

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