SPJ/LA Announces 2014 Distinguished Journalist Honorees

SPJ/LA Announces 2014 Distinguished Journalist Honorees


LOS ANGELES – The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will honor five local journalists at its 39th annual awards banquet next spring.

The Distinguished Journalist honorees include longtime regional journalists practicing in print, radio, television and new media. They are: Jacques Clafin, overnight editor at City News Service; Gustavo Arellano, editor of OC Weekly; Keith Goldstein, news director at KCSN; and Cheryl Kunin Fair, vice president and news director at KABC. Michelle Levander, editor-in-chief of ReportingonHealth.org, is the recipient of the chapter’s Distinguished Work in New Media Award.

The chapter will also be recognizing Mona Shafer Edwards, longtime courtroom sketch artist for her valued contribution to journalism.  Edwards, through her illustrations, brings viewers and readers into the courtroom when cameras are not allowed.

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 are journalists who 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 was created in 2008 and is given to a journalist who uses the new media’s unique characteristics and capabilities while striving to uphold traditional journalism’s highest standards of honesty, accuracy, responsibility and accountability.

The awards banquet will be held in Spring of 2015, with the date and location to be announced.

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 Los Angeles professional chapter marked its 75th anniversary in 2009.

Distinguished Journalist Award Winners
Cheryl Kunin Fair is the longest-serving local television news director in Los Angeles, and the only female news director in the history of KABC-TV. Since she joined KABC in 1994, Eyewitness News has become the local news leader in broadcast, digital and social media. Milestones during her tenure include the only locally owned live radar in Southern California, the first high-definition helicopter, and the first regular newscasts in HD live from the studio and the field. Under her leadership, Eyewitness News has implemented new technology to discover, create, present and distribute news and information content and embraced social media as a way to better communicate with consumers.

Keith S. Goldstein has spent his entire 33-year professional career in radio news. As news director of KCSN-FM, since 1987, he has led his California State University Northridge student broadcast journalism staff to more than 450 professional local, regional, state and national awards including 49 Golden Mikes in Division B from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California and 34 regional Edward R. Murrow awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association including KCSN News being recognized four times for overall excellence. Also, under Goldstein’s leadership, the student reporters and writers have received a dozen first place Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. Goldstein created a six-part series on domestic violence that received first place awards from the Los Angeles Press Club and the Associated Press.  He also earned three statewide Associated Press awards in the category of investigative reporting, including in-depth stories on staged accidents and the mental health funding crisis in Los Angeles County. A native of Philadelphia, Goldstein is a graduate of Temple University and earned his graduate degree from Pennsylvania State University. Goldstein also serves as a classroom instructor at California State University Northridge for the Journalism Department’s advanced radio news class, the Broadcast News Practicum.

Print (circulation over 90,000)
Jacques Clafin has been CNS Overnight Editor for nearly two decades, directing the agency’s overnight news report over a period that has seen the CNS coverage area expand with the addition of San Diego and Riverside counties. Clafin brought a wealth of reporting and management experience gleaned from years of service at United Press International — as Pacific Division Editor, directing news coverage in 10 Western states, including California; foreign editor, during a period when UPI earned the George Polk Award in Journalism, in the foreign reporting category; bureau chief in Salisbury; and correspondent in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. His assignments included coverage of the Yom Kippur War, the Rhodesian War and the emergence of Zimbabwe under black majority rule in the former Rhodesia. Clafin has reported from a score of countries and the United Nations. But one of his biggest “scoops” was his most anonymous. It came when, based on a tip, the French-speaking Clafin worked the phones in UPI’s New York office and learned from someone at Monaco’s Royal Palace that Princess Grace had died in a car crash. No other organization could match it for hours. The French-born Clafin attended Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, Los Angeles City College and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Print (circulation under 90,000)
Gustavo Arellano is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, the author of “Orange County: A Personal History” and “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America,” lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Fullerton, and a consulting producer on FOX’s animated show, Bordertown. He writes “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America’s spiciest and largest minority. Gustavo is the recipient of awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, the Los Angeles Press Club and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. He was also recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with a 2008 Spirit Award for his “exceptional vision, creativity, and work ethic.” Gustavo is a lifelong resident of Orange County and is the proud son of two Mexican immigrants, one of whom was illegal.

Distinguished Work in New Media
Michelle Levander is founding director of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and editor-in-chief of its website, ReportingonHealth.org, an online community of journalists, bloggers, health thinkers and practitioners. Reporting on Health, launched in 2008, features commissioned and member blogs and encourages online learning and communication across journalism, health policy and health practice. Two years ago, Levander launched the ReportingonHealth Collaborative under the Reporting on Health banner, which brings together reporters to produce collaborative projects for their news outlets on a shared theme. A veteran editor and writer, Levander previously reported in Asia, Latin America, and the United States for Time Magazine Asia, the Asian Wall Street Journal and The San Jose Mercury News. In Asia, she reported from China, India, South Korea and Vietnam on the region’s technology scene and launched a Technology Journal for the Asian Wall Street Journal.  She wrote about workplace issues and business health policy at the Mercury News, among other topics. She has received journalism awards from the Overseas Press Club of America (Best Reporting in Latin America), the Inter American Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. A former Inter American Press Association fellow, she spent a year in Mexico, studying and researching migrant culture. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley and earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

SPJ/LA will also recognize Mona Shafer Edwards, longtime courtroom sketch artist whose drawings help fill the gap when cameras are barred from the courtroom. Edwards’ illustrations have been featured on local newscasts, programs and networks such as KABC-TV, TMZ.com, “20/20,” A&E Biography, ABC, CNN, “Entertainment Tonight” and in numerous publications, including Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. She has illustrated several fashion books and has also created storyboards and sketch art for feature films and TV commercials. She has taught fashion sketching classes at UCLA and other academic institutions.

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