Join the San Diego SPJ Board

We’re currently seeking candidates interested in running for a seat on our chapter’s board. Board members are involved in planning and executing events, putting on our annual awards banquet, crafting and releasing statements and generally advocating for journalists everywhere. We meet on the first Tuesday of every month in the evening. If you’re an SPJ member, you’re eligible to run.

If you’d like to run for the board, please submit your candidacy statement, including any biographical information you would like to share (200-word limit) by Wednesday, June 17 to spjsandiego@gmail.com.

Election results will be announced in early July. Need to renew your membership? Click here.

Who Should Be SPJ San Diego’s Journalist of the Year?

Every year, the San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honors a local journalist whose work had a major impact in our San Diego community. We’re now accepting nominations for the 2019 journalist of the year until July 6. We ask that the nomination focuses on a journalist’s coverage of a particular story or topic in 2019.

To nominate someone, click here. The winner will be announced along with our other awards this fall. More details on the ceremony to come!

Update on the Status of County PRAs

Update on the status of county PRAs: On May 14, we called on San Diego County to end its policy of not fulfilling certain requests for public records during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the outbreak should not be an excuse to sacrifice transparency on matters of vital public interest. The policy remains in effect, though the county informs us that its 60-day limit on retaining emails has been suspended during this time. We asked each supervisor to state their positions, and here’s what they told us.

Greg Cox: “From the very beginning of this crisis, the County has been very responsive to the media. We have held daily media briefings and our communications staff has continued to respond to questions before and after those briefings. I, along with my fellow Supervisors, have fulfilled numerous media requests and I can tell you my office has even contacted media outlets to reschedule interviews when we initially couldn’t do them. I understand the media has a job to do. But so does the County. And right now, our priority is to manage the health and economic impacts of this pandemic. We have responded to most of the public records requests, but we have said that there are some requests that may not be initially fulfilled. That doesn’t mean they won’t ever be fulfilled. It just means that right now we are in the middle of this crisis and we have to prioritize our response. Throughout this crisis we have asked for the patience and understanding of all residents with a situation we have not experienced in our lifetimes. I don’t think the media should be exempted from that request and we ask for your patience and understanding too as we try to deal with your requests.”

Dianne Jacob: “I’ve always believed that transparency is a core part of good governance, and I’m aware that county staff have been able to fulfill over 500 public records requests in recent weeks. About 35 to 40 requests have been delayed because they are COVID related. Despite the health crisis being the top priority, even some of those are being fulfilled if county staff has the information available. It is my expectation that county staff will continue to do all it can to fulfill the outstanding requests when the current crisis allows.”

Kristin Gaspar: “I’ve always believed that transparency is a core part of good governance, and I’m aware that county staff have been able to fulfill over 500 public records requests in recent weeks. About 35 to 40 requests have been delayed because they are COVID related. Despite the health crisis being the top priority, even some of those are being fulfilled if county staff has the information available. It is my expectation that county staff will continue to do all it can to fulfill the outstanding requests when the current crisis allows.”

Note: Jacob and Gaspar shared the same statement.

Nathan Fletcher (whose staff referred us to his comments to KPBS): “I think we’re many months into this now and so I would be supportive of a change in posture in ensuring that we’re fully compliant with the records requests.”

Jim Desmond: “I am supportive of transparency, especially being an elected official. We’ve been told that County staff has fulfilled over 500 PRA requests since March 1. I trust County staff will continue to fulfill them when the crisis subsides.”

San Diego County Should Resume Processing CPRA Requests During COVID-19

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is deeply disappointed with San Diego County’s decision to not respond to some public records requests during the coronavirus pandemic, as outlined in a formal letter being sent to requestors by County Chief Counsel Thomas Montgomery. Several San Diego news outlets have reported on the policy.

We understand public health is a top priority and that responding to records requests might take longer during the pandemic. But government transparency is crucial during crises such as this one, and a public health emergency shouldn’t be a reason to ignore records requests indefinitely. Other local governments, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, Escondido, Carlsbad and El Cajon, as well as other California counties, are facing similar challenges but are still complying with the California Public Records Act.

The SD-SPJ Board calls on the County of San Diego to immediately resume processing all valid records requests — and it should suspend its 60-day email retention policy to ensure important records are not deleted.

A county spokesman said each member of the Board of Supervisors was informed of the change, though the board did not approve it. We hope each supervisor will clarify their position on this decision and agree that the pandemic is no reason to sacrifice transparency.