SPJ Announces 2016 Journalist of the Year


The San Diego SPJ Chapter is proud to announce its 2016 Journalist of the Year: Mario Koran, a reporter at Voice of San Diego.

We chose to honor Koran both for breaking one of the biggest stories of the year that helped lead to a school board trustee’s resignation and for his comprehensive coverage of San Diego’s education that aims to fill readers’ needs.

Last July, a source told Koran that then-San Diego Unified school board president Marne Foster held a questionable private fundraiser for her sons attended by district officials and even people with business before the district. Koran broke the story and produced a steady stream of revelations over the next six months. He uncovered new information that Foster had used her authority in office to punish employees who clashed with her son. Weeks later, a counselor at the school Foster’s son attended told Koran she was disciplined for writing a less-than-flattering college evaluation letter for the teen.Then the boy’s father told Koran that Foster pressured him to sign his name on a false claim against the school district related to that evaluation letter rather than attach her own name to the $250,000 demand.

Days after the latter story published, one school board trustee called for an investigation. The District Attorney’s Office eventually began its own probe.This February, Foster resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. Both Foster’s defense attorney and the prosecutor working on the case acknowledged that Koran’s work helped open the door to the plea agreement and resignation.

Koran also regularly produces stories and columns that pull back the curtain on controversial school district decisions and the often complex, jargon-filled world of education. Koran’s clear, approachable writing style has helped many parents better understand big decisions that affect their children, and given them the tools and knowledge to speak up.

Come celebrate Koran and all of our 2016 award winners at our annual banquet on July 21.

When: Thursday, July 21, 2016. 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: $55 per person, $440 for reserved tables of eight, $50 for students
Registration: Please register and pay here.

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

Our contest is sponsored in part by BetterBNC, an online contest entry and judging platform created by SmallTownPapers in Washington. Learn more about this great company at smalltownpapers.com.


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