Civic Activist, Transparency Advocate Mel Shapiro Dies at 90

The San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was saddened to learn about the passing of 90-year-old civic activist Mel Shapiro.

Shapiro was a source of accurate and reliable information for a generation of journalists in San Diego County, many of whom relied on his tips to develop watchdog stories.

A former New York accountant, Mel Shapiro moved to San Diego and advocated for better transparency by all agencies across the county. He was basically a professional seeker of public records and held officials accountable for not releasing critical information. His Twitter bio boasted that he had won two published appeals in his fights for government transparency.

In 1987, Shapiro’s efforts to uncover wasteful spending within the San Diego Housing Commission garnered national attention when he was featured in The Wall Street Journal. The evidence Shapiro uncovered eventually led to the firing of Housing Commissioner Ben Montijo.

Over  the years, Shapiro regularly worked behind the scenes and never sought out public attention or acclaim for his muckraking. But in 2012, he accepted SPJ’s Sunshine Award and in a city proclamation, was described as a “civic activist and watchdog possessed of much passion and purpose.”

San Diego is a better place because of Shapiro’s service. Rest in peace, Mel.

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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.

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!