SD-SPJ Concerned By El Cajon City Councilman’s Interaction with Journalist

The San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is greatly concerned by the behavior of El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho toward East County Magazine reporter Paul Kruze, as alleged in Kruze’s statements to the police. Threatening or intimidating journalists is unacceptable behavior from any member of the public — but especially from elected officials.

Journalists have a right to do their jobs without fear of violence. We urge the El Cajon Police Department to fully investigate the incident that took place on June 23 between Councilman Kalasho and Mr. Kruze. Our institutions and elected officials must do everything they can to ensure the safety of journalists in the exercise of our collective First Amendment right to a free press.

 

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SD-SPJ’s Final Election Results, Banquet Ticket Deadline

San Diego SPJ’s Final Election Results

SPJ San Diego congratulates incumbent Tom Jones of NBC 7 San Diego for winning another two-year term on the SPJ board after an uprecendented runoff election last week.

The board also voted Tuesday to select its officers for the new year.

Voice of San Diego reporter Lisa Halverstadt will remain president and Jones, executive investigative producer for NBC 7, will serve as vice president. Bey-Ling Sha, director of SDSU’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, will serve as secretary and Andrew Kleske, reader outreach editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune, will stay on as treasurer.

Check out our complete list of SPJ board members here.

The board is looking forward to discussing plans for the upcoming year in coming weeks. If you’ve got an idea, email the board at spjsandiego@gmail.com.

Banquet Ticket Deadline Coming Up

The deadline to buy tickets to San Diego SPJ’s annual awards banquet is coming up this Friday!

We’re proud to honor our region’s many talented journalists and 2018 Journalist of the Year Andrew Keatts, assistant editor and senior investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego. Check out our complete list of winners here. You’ll have to wait until the banquet to find out who won what!

Please join us to celebrate Keatts and all of this year’s award winners at our annual banquet on Tuesday, July 17, at Kona Kai.

What: SD-SPJ 2018 awards banquet

When: Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Reception at 5:30 p.m., program starts at 7 p.m.

Where: The Kona Kai Resort & Spa, 1551 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106. Cocktail hour on the Point Loma Terrace, banquet in the Ballroom.

Cost: $60 per person, $50 for students, $480 for reserved tables of eight

Registration: Please register and pay here.

The event usually sells out, so don’t delay. Register and purchase your tickets today!

SD-SPJ Board Election Runoff Questions

Tom Jones

Why do you want to serve on the SPJ San Diego board?

I want to serve the SPJ San Diego board so I can continue to help inform and educate the public on the role of journalists in our democracy while advocating for a transparent government process in San Diego County. Last year, I organized a public survey on behalf of SPJ to find out how the public felt about the city of San Diego’s new public record request system. More than 150 people completed the survey and their answers were shared with city officials during a sit-down meeting with myself and the SPJ Board President. In addition to the survey, I organized and moderated two panels on the topic of ‘fake news’ and I assisted the board with issuing statements that supported the rights of local journalists who faced subpoenas to testify in court. In both cases, a judge ruled the rights of a free press took priority.

These are just some examples of what I accomplished last year as the SPJ SD advocacy chair. If re- elected, I will dedicate more of my time to representing the needs of journalists and public access to our government.

What would be your top priorities in the coming year?

If re-elected to the board, my top priorities and focus will be on the role our board can play when advocating for the rights of open access to our local government powers, not just for journalists but for the public. Journalists’ access to public agencies has steadily decreased in San Diego. The increased use of public information officers, spokespeople and written statements is limiting the release of information the public has a right to.

Currently, in San Diego, there is no repercussion for an agency that refuses to release public documents. Instead, the public and news organizations are forced to pursue legal action, a luxury most journalists and members of the public cannot afford. The focus of my term would be to explore whether or not our board can change that. Other cities have successfully established public councils for reviewing public record disputes and I would like to see if our board can do the same. I would also like to focus on educating local government entities about the state’s public records laws, hopefully leading to a more educated and transparent government process in San Diego County.

What are your proudest journalism accomplishments?

My proudest accomplishments in my journalism career include moments where my team’s investigative reporting has exposed a problem impacting people who are often left unheard. One of those stories began two years ago. It involved a nonprofit whose mission was to raise money for children with cancer. Through our investigating we learned the children and their families had not seen any of the money donated to the charity on their behalf. Our investigation revealed the CEO had several warrants issued for her arrest, warrants that were not actively being looked into until we began to ask questions. Following our initial reports, the CEO was arrested, charged with stealing the funds raised for these children and eventually sentenced to a year in jail. In another story produced last year, parents and students from four local high schools contacted me after losing thousands of dollars to a company that promised a band trip to Japan. The trip had been canceled and refunds were not issued. After our investigation into the company, both owners were arrested and later sentenced for not delivering on the planned trip.

Erin Siegal McIntyre

Why do you want to serve on the SPJ San Diego board?

It’s wonderful that current SPJ San Diego board members are willing to continue their service to our local chapter, but it’s also important to bring journalists from diverse backgrounds onto the board.

Having a new board member means SPJ-SD reaps the benefits of a fresh perspective on our chapter’s challenges, triumphs, and priorities. I’m on the staff of any San Diego media organization; I’m a career freelance investigative journalist based in Tijuana.   

As a new board member, I’d bring service experience from my time on the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) board and as the co-founder of the JAWS Diversity Committee. I feel strongly about giving back and paying it forward, and I believe my energy and passion could be put to good use on the SPJ-SD board.

As a small business owner and single parent, I’m good at efficiency. I know I could help our chapter further SPJ’s mission of promoting the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry, working to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press through advocacy.

What would be your top priorities in the coming year?

It’s imperative to continue SPJ San Diego’s battle for transparency via aggressive open records advocacy. We need to actively promote press freedom and open government, and defend our First Amendment rights at every opportunity. I’d like to see a new SPJ-SD focus on race and gender equity within San Diego media organizations. A recent report from the Women’s Media Center (WMC) found that women of color represent 7.95 percent of print newsroom staff, 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, and just 6.2 percent of local radio staff. SPJ SD could also uplift our industry by helping female journalists recognize inherent bias and combat sexual harassment on the job (think #MeToo in the newsroom).

Plenty of opportunities also exist for SPJ-SD to grow our membership and social media presence. Opportunities also exist to create cross-border collaborations with our Mexican journalist colleagues just miles to the south in Tijuana, including an advocacy project on the behalf of the physical safety of Mexican colleagues that could be supported by a $500 SPJ Chapter Grant.

What are your proudest journalism accomplishments?

In my 15-year career, my work has been honored with various awards, scholarships, and fellowships. I’ve grown a robust freelance career in which I’ve been able to follow my instincts and passion for deep-dive investigative work, while earmarking time for service.

In 2012, Beacon Press published my book Finding Fernanda, which exposed organized crime and corruption in international adoption between Guatemala and the United States. That investigation was based in part on 20,000 pages of State Department documents obtained via FOIA, which were released as an additional research volume, The U.S. Embassy Cables: Adoption Fraud in Guatemala, 1987-2010. Finding Fernanda was honored with an Overseas Press Club Award citation for Best Reporting on Latin America in any medium, and an SPJ James Madison Freedom of Information award. My book and reporting on Guatemalan adoption provided the backbone for an episode of “48 Hours Mystery” on CBS that won a 2015 Emmy.

Another standout moment in my career was getting to co-report/co-write a feature magazine story with one of my favorite authors, Tijuana-San Diego literary hero Luis Alberto Urrea. That was probably the pinnacle; he’s a luminary and I still can’t believe I got to share page space with him.

Important SPJ San Diego Election Updates

SPJ San Diego’s election results are in and we need your help – again.

We’ve got a tie. Board candidates Tom Jones and Erin Siegal McIntyre received the same number of votes in our recent election and our bylaws require that we schedule a runoff. Our runoff election starts Thursday, June 27 and runs through Saturday, July 7 and we’d encourage you to vote ASAP. Check your email registered with SD-SPJ for login information.

If there is another tie, the sitting SPJ board has voted to flip a coin but we’re hoping you’ll vote and help us avoid that outcome.

To help you learn more about the two candidates, we’ve asked Jones and McIntyre to answer a few questions about themselves. You can check out their responses here.

We’ve also got some exciting news.

Andrew Bowen and Brooke Binkowski have been elected to join our SPJ board. Kelly Davis, Andrew Kleske, Elliot Spagat and Megan Wood were re-elected. Learn more about Bowen, Binkowski and all our board members here.

Update on Voice of San Diego Lawsuit Fighting San Diego Unified’s New Email Policy

On May 31, Voice of San Diego filed a temporary restraining order against the San Diego Unified School District to stop a scheduled June 1 email purge, the result of a new records retention policy. On Friday, June 22, Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn heard arguments from attorneys for the school district, Voice of San Diego, and from San Diegans for Open Government, which had also sued over the policy.

The judge’s tentative ruling, issued the day before, was in favor of Voice of San Diego’s argument that the district’s records retention policy violates state law. On Friday, in order to give SDUSD the chance to respond to arguments filed by San Diegans for Open Government, Styn continued the hearing to Aug. 24, when he expects to have a final decision.

San Diego SPJ is encouraged by Styn’s tentative ruling. As we’ve noted, other large school districts in California retain emails for at least two years, and we have concerns that San Diego Unified’s email retention policy will result in the deletion of vital public records.

RSVP for the awards banquet

SPJ San Diego Pro Chapter’s annual awards banquet is coming up in a couple weeks.

We’re proud to honor 2018 Journalist of the Year: Andrew Keatts, assistant editor and senior investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego, and our region’s many talented journalists. Check out our complete list of winners here. You’ll have to wait until the banquet to find out who won what!

Please join us to celebrate Keatts and all of this year’s award winners at our annual banquet on Tuesday, July 17, at Kona Kai.

What: SD-SPJ 2018 awards banquet

When: Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Reception at 5:30 p.m., program starts at 7 p.m.

Where: The Kona Kai Resort & Spa, 1551 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106. Cocktail hour on the Point Loma Terrace, banquet in the Ballroom.

Cost: $60 per person, $50 for students, $480 for reserved tables of eight

Registration: Please register and pay here.

The event usually sells out, so don’t delay. Register and purchase your tickets today!