Better Journalism Workshop: Reporting on Trauma

Interviewing someone who’s recently experienced trauma — the death of a loved one, a serious illness or injury, or a natural disaster — is one of the more difficult things we do as reporters. How do you approach someone in a way that’s not intrusive? What questions are OK to ask and how should you ask them? And what about the impact on yourself as a reporter? What should you do to maintain your sanity when covering a difficult topic?

Join the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at the San Diego Central Library at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, for a panel discussion on covering trauma. We’ll delve into ethical issues, do’s and don’ts, and how to minimize your own stress level when reporting on troubling subjects.

WHAT: Panel on Reporting on Trauma
WHO: Rory Devine, NBC San Diego; Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune; Melanie Barker, LCSW, clinical director, SDSU Research Foundation; Kelly Davis (moderator), independent reporter
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m. (social), 7 p.m. (panel)
WHERE: San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., San Diego 92101. Shiley Suite on the ninth floor. FREE PARKING IN LIBRARY GARAGE WITH VALIDATION STAMP IN LOBBY.

Bring your questions or send them in advance to

And let us know that you’re coming with an RSVP to Facebook.


Ron Bonn, former SD-SPJ member and veteran journalist

Ron Bonn, a former member of the San Diego SPJ chapter board and a veteran journalist whose long broadcasting career included producing stints with such esteemed newsmen as Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw, has died. He was 88.

Bonn will be remembered as a passionate journalist who in his later years became an educator, passing on his journalistic knowledge to 400 University of San Diego students over the course of 10 years. In a farewell message he penned for the San Diego SPJ website in 2012 marking the end of his USD teaching job, he looked back on his 40-year career in TV news and said,” I understood that I had done what the Brits tell us to do: ‘Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’”

Bonn won three Emmys during his broadcasting career and after retiring from television news, he co-wrote the book, “How to Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness.” A prolific letter writer in his post retirement years, Bonn covered a broad spectrum of issues dear to him in his missives to the Union-Tribune,  from the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment to the GOP tax reform efforts and sexual harassment.

SPJ was fortunate to have benefited from his years of wisdom and volunteer service. In that piece he wrote reflecting on his  teaching years, Bonn reminded so many of us why we crave journalism: “Perhaps the greatest single advantage of a career in journalism,” he mused, “is that you never stop learning.”

SD-SPJ Wins National Award, Reminds Members to Vote in National SPJ Elections

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was recognized Thursday as the 2018 National Outstanding Large Pro Chapter at the Excellence in Journalism national SPJ conference. National President Rebecca Baker noted in particular our chapter’s work in several areas, including campus relations, diversity, and community education to enhance media literacy in the public.

This award marks the second time in four years that SD-SPJ has earned this honor. Congratulations to our 2017-2018 board members for their leadership. And thanks to all our members for your participation in the many activities that collectively make our chapter, officially, the best in the country!

REMINDER: It’s time to elect your national SPJ board and officers! All SPJ members should have received by now an official email with instructions for voting in the national election. Interviews and podcasts with all the candidates for national office can be found here. SD-SPJ has endorsed chapter past-president and current board member Matt Hall for national secretary-treasurer.

San Diego SPJ Concerned by Panel Sponsorship at EIJ Conference

On Tuesday, the San Diego SPJ board shared its concerns about the national SPJ board’s decision to allow the Charles Koch Institute to sponsor a public records panel at this year’s Excellence in Journalism conference.

Here is the text of the letter the San Diego SPJ board sent to to SPJ’s executive director and board of directors:

Dear Ms. McKenzie and the SPJ Board of Directors,

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is concerned by the decision to allow the Charles Koch Institute to sponsor a FOIA panel at the 2018 Excellence in Journalism conference next week. We’re encouraged, however, by the decision to create a task force to review policies regarding future panel sponsorships.

SPJ members across the country didn’t learn about the sponsorship until a little more than a month before the conference. On Sept. 4, our board was briefed about it and learned that IRE board president Cheryl Thompson had chosen to withdraw as panel moderator.

At this late date, we understand why SPJ national has decided to move forward with the panel and the Koch sponsorship. We hope the task force will review the following points:

  • Rules surrounding sponsorships from organizations with clear political ties
  • How and when sponsorships should be disclosed to members

The San Diego SPJ board looks forward to helping guide our organization toward operating with greater transparency, especially regarding decisions that could raise questions about journalistic integrity and professional interests.


San Diego SPJ Pro Chapter Board