Claire Trageser, SPJ San Diego 2020 Journalist of the Year


Credit: Janet Bark Photography

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce our 2020 Journalist of the Year: KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser.

Claire was doing the hard work of reporting on police misconduct and racial disparities in criminal justice long before the current wave of interest in the topic. And she always approaches her stories with tact and humility.

In February 2019, she unveiled a six-part series called DR J’S: How A Gang Shooting Changed Southeast San Diego. This was a deep dive into a seminal moment for San Diego’s Black community: a horrific crime that led to a major increase in police presence, which many in the neighborhood felt created whole new problems that are still evident today.

Throughout 2019, Claire also reported on police records newly made public thanks to SB 1421. She broke the story of former San Diego police Officer Donald Moncrief, who was accused of sexual assault, resigned before receiving any discipline and was never charged with a crime. Her reporting led to a lawsuit that forced the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to turn over five years of records on complaints against deputies.

Claire’s reporting on criminal justice has featured deeply personal stories. In August 2019, she released a two-part feature on the controversial “felony murder rule,” which allows a defendant to be charged with murder even if they didn’t kill anyone. Claire told the story of Shawn Khalifa, who is incarcerated after a conviction under the rule for a robbery he took part in when he was 15. And she has done stories on celebrations and victories, too, like Southeast San Diego reclaiming the intersection of Euclid and Imperial Avenues as the “4 Corners of Life” instead of the “4 Corners of Death.”

To top things off, Claire often finds interesting and newsworthy stories where no one else is looking, like the large number of broken trash bins in San Diego or the Humane Society’s controversial practice of releasing feral cats back onto the streets. In addition to her excellent reporting, Claire has also been a leader in the local journalism community, previously serving as SD-SPJ president and organizing the SPJ Regional Conference in San Diego in 2017. 

Claire earned this award with her dedication to seeking out and telling impactful stories that truly matter. Unfortunately, we cannot celebrate Claire’s work in person this year. But we hope you will join us for a virtual ceremony the evening of Aug. 24. More details will follow!

Announcing This Year’s SD-SPJ Award Winners

We’re excited to announce the winners of this year’s annual journalism contest. We’ve appreciated your patience as we considered how to best celebrate this year’s winners during a pandemic that has brought new challenges and tough decisions for all of us. 

Click here to view a list of award winners—except for our special awards and scholarships, which will be announced Monday, Aug. 24, via video. The video will also feature a short speech by our Journalist of the Year, who we’ll be announcing Aug. 20 — stay tuned! First-place winners can also check out comments on those awards here.

Congratulations to all our winners! Your hard work and dedication to your craft consistently impress us!

Special note about receiving your awards: As in past years, first place winners will receive a plaque. First place winners will be notified when plaques arrive, and will be sent pick-up instructions. Second and third place winners will receive a certificate. We’ll announce dates and locations for picking up your awards later this month. If you received a second or third place award, and DO NOT want a certificate, please email spjsandiego@gmail.org by Wednesday, Aug. 26, to let us know.

Annual Bench-Bar Event: Meeting This Moment

UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled to September 15.

The year 2020 first brought stay-at-home orders and unprecedented closures of the court system due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then sustained protests over police treatment of African-Americans. During this extraordinary year, the Bench has grappled with how to maintain access to the courts. The Bar has confronted COVID-related challenges to the practice of law and its role in ensuring equal access to justice. Finally, media outlets have worked overtime to cover it all while managing unusual new obstacles to newsgathering. Panelists will discuss local efforts to confront these issues from their respective roles as legal community activists, journalists and law enforcement officials.

When: 5:30 – 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15

Who: Hon. Dwayne Moring, Moderator, San Diego Superior Court, South County Supervising Judge

Hon. Lorna Alksne, Presiding Judge, San Diego Superior Court

Dana Littlefield, Public Safety Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Adam Racusin, Investigative Reporter, 10News

Summer Stephan, San Diego County District Attorney

Andrea St. Julian, President, Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association; Co-Chair, San Diegans for Justice

Where: Zoom link provided with registration

Register here.

San Diego SPJ Unveils Journalist Relief Fund

Journalists have kept the world informed during the Covid-19 pandemic but have also suffered economic and job losses. San Diego is no exception, with layoffs and furloughs at print, radio, television, and digital news organizations across the county. 

We want to help.

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is creating a Journalist Relief Fund. We’ve allocated $1,500 for $250 grants to media colleagues who’ve lost work. We know it’s not going to cover rent, but we hope the grants will provide some relief. 

Those wishing to apply for a grant don’t need to be members of SD-SPJ, but they must work (or have worked) in San Diego County. The application deadline is midnight Sunday, Aug. 2. You can check out the application here.

We are also accepting donations from those wishing to contribute to the SD-SPJ Journalist Relief Fund via our PayPal account. Please note: Donations are not tax-exempt, but they will go a long way. To donate, click here.

For questions related to the Journalism Relief Fund, email spjsandiego@gmail.com.