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.”

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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.

Sincerely,

San Diego SPJ Pro Chapter Board

 

San Diego SPJ Cheers Judge’s Ruling Stopping SDUSD Email Deletion

Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn on Friday stopped the San Diego Unified School District from deleting millions of old emails, pending the outcome of a trial.

The policy, passed by the San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees last year, would have resulted in the deletion of millions of emails on June 1, 2018. On May 31, after Voice of San Diego and San Diegans for Open Government filed lawsuits seeking to halt the policy’s implementation, Styn granted a preliminary injunction. Styn gave all parties a chance to argue their case in court and file additional documents. Today, he ruled the injunction will remain in place pending the outcome of a trial scheduled for March 2019.

For more than a year, the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has raised concerns that important public records will be deleted if the policy is enacted. We regularly reached out to the district to get updates on the policy’s implementation, and we researched how other large California school districts handle email retention (all of them keep emails for at least two years). We also questioned whether it was proper for the district to allow individual employees to decide which of their own emails should be retained and which emails should be deleted.

Despite our monthly requests to the school district, we were never provided with clear evidence that employees had been adequately trained on which emails fit the definition of a “record” and should therefore be retained. Judge Styn noted this in his ruling, saying he “was not persuaded” that the district had provided employees with proper guidance.

“The court finds SDUSD fails to establish that its guidelines, policies and procedures will insure that ‘records’ will not be destroyed during the automatic deletion procedure,” Styn wrote.

SD-SPJ is pleased with Judge Styn’s ruling on this important matter of transparency and appreciates his questioning of whether the district had taken all necessary steps to ensure its policy didn’t result in the destruction of public records.