Panel Discussion: Careers in Science Writing (Virtual)

When: Tuesday, January 25th, from 12pm – 1pm PST
Where: Zoom Register HERE

Thinking about a career in science writing? Hear from professionals in journalism and communications about various career paths during a virtual panel. The event, hosted by San Diego State University, San Diego Science Writers Association and San Diego Society of Professional Journalists, will include four panelists:

·         Heather Buschman (director of scientific communications and media relations at the Salk Institute)

·         Katy Stegall (SDSU student, inaugural Bradley J. Fikes Scholarship recipient and investigative assistant at KPBS)

·         Jared Whitlock (freelance journalist, MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow)

·         Jonathan Wosen (biotech reporter at the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Moderated by Temple Northup, director and professor at school of journalism and media studies at San Diego State University.


Watch the video from our recent reporting on health care panel

Thanks to everyone who attended our Dec. 7 panel, “Reporting on Health Care During Covid-19 and Beyond,” and to our smart, insightful panelists, Paul Sisson, Lauren Mapp and Jill Castellano, who shared their experiences covering everything from nursing home neglect to end-of-life care to preventable deaths. We recorded the Zoom session so those who couldn’t attend could learn some tips from our panelists.

Panel Discussion: Reporting on Healthcare During Covid-19 and Beyond

Even during normal times, the healthcare beat is one of journalism’s most challenging assignments. There’s medical lingo to learn, strict privacy laws to contend with and the high-stakes task of separating truth from misinformation. Join SPJ San Diego for a panel discussion that will delve into current challenges faced by reporters covering healthcare and offer tips for navigating those challenges.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 7 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Who: Union-Tribune healthcare reporter (and our Journalist of the Year) Paul Sisson;

Jill Castellano from inewsource, whose series on COVID-19 deaths won SPJ’s 2021 Distinguished Coverage award; and Lauren Mapp, who’s been doing innovative work on the Union-Tribune’s new caregiver beat. Moderated by freelancer and SPJ San Diego president, Kelly Davis.

WhereZoom! (While we’re looking forward to in-person events in 2022, for now we’re erring on the side of safety and accessibility.)  

SD-SPJ urges autopsy report transparency 

Under California public records laws, an autopsy report is often the only document available to journalists that could shed light on the circumstances surrounding a person’s death. Over the last few years, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department has made it a practice to ask the county medical examiner to seal autopsy reports of people who have died in county jails. 

Last month, the Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB), which investigates deaths in county law enforcement custody, asked the sheriff’s department to stop requesting that autopsy reports be sealed unless it’s absolutely necessary to protect the integrity of an investigation. As CLERB Executive Officer Paul Parker wrote in his policy recommendation, “The ‘sealing’ of a case results in the Medical Examiner’s Office not providing information to the next-of-kin and simply referring them to the [San Diego Sheriff’s Department], which limits the information it provides due to its on-going investigation. These unfortunate circumstances result in next-of-kin receiving no answers for several months, at minimum, and sometimes for a year or longer. In addition, information pertaining to in-custody deaths provided to the public is limited when a case is ‘sealed.’” 

On Oct. 29, the SD-SPJ board sent a letter to Sheriff Bill Gore to express our support for CLERB’s policy recommendation and urge him to adopt it for all the reasons mentioned above. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Lt. Amber Baggs responded that in April 2021, Undersheriff Kelly Martinez verbally directed the department’s homicide unit to stop requesting that autopsy reports for in-custody deaths be sealed reports.

Baggs said the policy was in the process being finalized, and did not apply to deaths prior to Martinez’s order. The SD-SPJ board urges the sheriff’s department to make Martinez’s direction official policy as soon as possible and also ensure that autopsy reports for deaths that occurred prior to April 2021 have been unsealed. We also urge the department to be as transparent as possible when it comes to deaths that involve law enforcement personnel and seal reports only when absolutely necessary.