Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Who’s joining us in Anaheim for SPJ’s annual conference?

Hope to see y’all in Anaheim for #EIJ17 this week. See the website here. Get the app here.  Look for regional director Matthew T. Hall on the app or in person and share your thoughts on SPJ or just say hi. We’ll have lots to celebrate, including the Las Vegas Pro Chapter being named one of three finalists for the national Society of Professional Journalists’ small chapter of the year award! The winner will be named in Anaheim. Hundreds of journalists are expected, and it will be great for us all to recognize, improve and protect professional and student journalism in our four western states and join with journalists the nation over to strengthen our industry. On the business side of the ledger, the big proposal we’ll all be voting on is this plan to phase in the reduction of the size of the national board from 23 members to nine, in large part by removing the 12 regional directors from the board and spinning them off so they can focus more closely on regional issues. Any questions, please email Hall.


SPJ names San Diego pro chapter of the year and 4 other Orlando highlights

mickey in orlandoGreetings from Orlando, where I’ve found Stone IPA at the hotel bar and amazing passion and inspiration in many journalism conversations.

Here are five highlights from a regional perspective, starting with one I am super proud of.

1) San Diego SPJ was named this year’s national Society of Professional Journalists’ large pro chapter of the year. It’s the highest honor a chapter can achieve and a testament to our San Diego board’s dedication and the San Diego membership’s encouragement. In its announcement, national SPJ explained that it honored us for “commitment to SPJ’s mission and exceptional chapter programming.”

San_Diego_Reflecting_Pond-1The full statement read: “The SPJ San Diego Pro chapter is recognized for its hard work in recruiting and retaining members. It also partnered with the San Diego Diplomacy Council which allowed the chapter to have more diverse programming. San Diego Pro held a successful Awards Contest Banquet this past year with more than 120 journalists in attendance. Some of the programs for 2014 included a resume workshop, mixers with five other journalism clubs and a cryptography party. It also held programs such as ‘Witness to Wildfires: Looking Through a Rear-View Mirror’ and ‘Stop and I’ll shoot: The prevalence of police body cameras,’ with professionals in the community to provide better understanding of key issues and learn how to better report them.”

(Yes, the banquet reference was to last year’s. And yes, the president did make a joke about this year’s during her presentation….)

The chapter of the year honor is a remarkable achievement for a group of hard-working, forward-thinking, passionate journalists. Be proud, San Diego.

Unknown2) NorCal was singled out for its First Amendment and Freedom of Information efforts. Upholding those two things is a huge part of our mission, and NorCal deserves a ton of credit for being recognized as a Circle of Excellence award winner. Please join me in congratulating board president Lila LaHood and all of her outstanding colleagues in the Bay Area.

Unknown-33) Cal State University-Northridge has been awarded the outstanding campus chapter award for Region 11 this year. Congratulations to that chapter and all the great work it is doing.

4) I was re-elected to the national board of SPJ, where I serve as Region 11 director, working to celebrate, improve and protect professional and student journalists in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada. It’s a two-year term, so I’ll be in office when the national SPJ conference is in New Orleans in 2016 and in Anaheim, closer to home, in 2017. In that time, I’ll also oversee regional SPJ conferences in Phoenix in 2016 and in San Diego in 2017. The new SPJ national board will be led by President Paul Fletcher, President-Elect (and San Diegan!) Lynn Walsh and Secretary-Treasurer Rebecca Baker. Thank you very much to all who helped elect me. I appreciate the support and look forward to helping across the region.
5) Among the dozen or so resolutions the national membership passed in its closing business session today was one I wrote on behalf of San Diego and Region 11 on police body-worn camera footage. I’m proud to say that the measure passed unanimously. Therpolicecamerae were some minor edits made on the floor, so what you’ll read below is not the official version but it’s close to — if not exactly how — the final one will read. This is an issue I and the San Diego board care deeply about — see Exhibit A and Exhibit B — so I’m grateful to have the support of the region, board and now national membership and am stoked this will be a priority nationally.

Thanks for all your support, Region 11. Onward to another great year. Let’s do good work!


Resolution No. 11: Advocating for the release of police body-worn camera footage

Submitted by: Matthew T. Hall, Region 11 director

WHEREAS, police use of force is dominating national headlines after police shootings in Ferguson, Mo.; Los Angeles; Cleveland; San Diego; North Charleston, South Carolina; Cincinnati and elsewhere in just the past 13 months, and;

WHEREAS, police body-worn cameras are increasingly common in law enforcement agencies nationwide, and;

WHEREAS, more and more police departments, including Boston and Baltimore just days ago, have taken steps to implement body-worn camera pilot programs, and;

WHEREAS, many police agencies cite increased accountability, transparency and public trust as reasons to equip officers with body-worn cameras, and;

WHEREAS, police chiefs in major cities such as San Diego and Los Angeles are now saying they would release footage only in rare cases, if at all, and;

WHEREAS, that position by police chiefs doesn’t seem to jibe with the public records law and runs counter to what the public believes body cameras do, which is provide a record of what happened, and;

WHEREAS, legislators in at least 15 states including Arizona and California, have introduced bills to exempt police body-worn camera footage from state public records laws or to limit what the public can access, and;

WHEREAS, some law enforcement agencies plan to release police body-worn camera footage taken in public spaces upon request, and;

WHEREAS, other law enforcement agencies, including the Oakland Police Department, are showing police body-worn camera video to members of the media but not releasing the footage to the public; and

WHEREAS, the freedom of the press is a constitutional right and the public’s right to know is something to be fiercely defended;

THEREFORE, be it resolved, that SPJ, in consultation with other journalism organizations, including NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, NAJA and NLGJA, shall over the next year develop best practices for how police agencies weigh right-to-know considerations against privacy concerns and draft guidelines for when police should release body-worn camera video to the public.

Excellence in Journalism is our goal every day but it’s our destination now

EIJ15 is finally here, everyone! Who’s excited about it? Yeah, me, too.

I hope to see everyone in Orlando this weekend, where the weather will be Floridian, the sessions will be phenomenal, the board business will be … board business, and the national board elections will run from Friday at 5 p.m. to Sunday at 2 p.m.

Is my Spidey sense tingling or am I just happy about EIJ?

Yes, I’m running for re-election, so I’d appreciate your vote and will gladly discuss my vision, my work, or anything, really. I look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando.

And I’m kidding about the board business being just board business. It’s important stuff, so if anyone has anything they’d like me to mention or discuss with my board colleagues, please send me an email, ping me on Twitter or look me up on the conference app by searching “EIJ15” in your app store, or following this link on your mobile browser.

Here are some big events to calendar, starting with the three that will close the conference on Sunday, Sept. 20.

Have fun, everyone. Do good work.

WHAT:  SPJ Region 11 meeting (Please join us to plan our coming year, discuss our 2016 regional conference in Phoenix, share great program ideas, air what’s bothering you and meet your colleagues in the region!)

WHEN: 12:30 pm. to 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Boston


WHAT: SPJ closing business session

WHEN: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: Grand 6


WHAT: SPJ president’s installation banquet

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

WHERE: Grand 7


Finally here are 3 other big events each day and one on Monday, where you can catch me and which you really shouldn’t miss. Because they’re awesome.


FRIDAY, Sept. 18


WHATSPJ board meeting

WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon

WHERE: Boston


WHAT: SPJ opening business session

WHEN: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: Atlanta


WHAT: Opening night reception

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (with shuttles from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

WHERE: B.B. King’s Blues Club, Pointe Orlando


Saturday, Sept. 19


WHAT: WDBJ Shooting: A tragedy unfolds in real time

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

WHERE: Grand 7


WHAT: Branding yourself in a changing journalism landscape

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m

WHERE: Grand 2


WHAT:  15 jaw droppingly cool online tools you will love and use

WHEN: 11 a.m. to noon

WHERE: Grand 2


SUNDAY, Sept. 20


WHAT: Coffee with SPJ leadership

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

WHERE: Hotel suite 22578


WHAT: SPJ Pro chapter leaders session

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 11 am.

WHERE: Hotel suite 22578


WHAT: Storytelling tools from Google News lab

WHEN: 11 a.m. to noon

WHERE: Grand 4


Monday, Sept. 21

WHAT: SPJ board meeting

WHEN: 9 a.m.

WHERE: Anaheim

8 things you should know about SPJ, or how to get free money for programs


This past weekend was our regional conference and the national board meeting. Most of you headed to San Francisco for a super weekend of programs and networking and that amazing San Francisco food. I went to Indianapolis for the full-day board meeting and a lot of Starbucks. Sad face emoji. I wish I could have been in both places at once. Below are some of the highlights from both events, and here again are all the winners from the Region 11 Mark of Excellence college journalism awards.

First, a HUGE thank you to SPJ NorCal for putting on such an amazing conference, to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Audrey Cooper and KQED’s Holly Kernan for a terrific keynote conversation and to all the panelists and attendees for creating such energy in each session. And a HUGE thank you to SPJ President Dana Neuts and the national board for a thoughtful day of deliberation and progress in the name of journalism. And for drinks after.

Here are a few scenes from the regional conference, courtesy of Twitter.




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No wait. That last one’s not right…

Now here are eight things you should know.

1) Our regional leaders’ meeting in San Francisco had representation from San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas and the Sacramento State student chapter. Part of the discussion was that San Quentin (!) wants to start a chapter. This prompted some jokes about lifetime SPJ membership and the Society of Prison Journalists, but all kidding aside, I was happy to hear the prisoners are occupying their time by exploring our industry. More info on that as it develops.

2) There is interest in a regular presidents’ conference call or better yet Skype conversation. I’ll try to start that in May. Our likely first order of business will be discussing how and when SPJ chooses annual convention cities. Our lineup the next three years is Orlando for EIJ15, New Orleans for EIJ16 and Anaheim for EIJ17. Future sites have yet to be chosen but the board directed staff in Indianapolis this weekend to broaden its search criteria to include host cities with hotel room rates of up to $250 or $260 a night and to continue moving the convention around the country. The thought behind the increased room rates is that bigger cities, even at greater costs, might attract more convention-goers and a wider, more electric mix of panelists. The board stressed that since a third of our national conference attendees are students, there must be an effort to control costs and pick dates that work best for students (i.e. not summer or early September.) Because of TV sweeps months, Jewish holidays and factors such as the timing of  regional conferences and chapter awards banquets, our national conventions will likely continue to be held in mid- to late September, but staff is exploring options there, too. I’d like to hear from each chapter — and unaffiliated Region 11 members — about preferences for convention cities, room rates, times and more. So let’s discuss that in our first president’s conversation. SPJ staff expects to make a recommendation for EIJ2018 prior to our convention in Orlando in September so I figured it’s best not to wait to discuss it. [Another great idea: Register for that convention now! It takes place Sept. 18-20. And it’s going to be awesome.]

3) Speaking of unaffiliated members, the board directed SPJ president-elect Paul Fletcher to explore how to give the 41 percent of our members nationally who are not in chapters a stronger voice at the annual convention and throughout the year. (Coincidentally, Region 11 also breaks down 59 percent chapter members and 41 percent unaffiliated members.) Fletcher is forming a task force and will examine a range of options on how to address this issue. Speaking of chapters, please join me in welcoming Region 11’s newest: the student chapter at California State Polytechnic University, which the SPJ board added this weekend.

4)  Looking ahead, the Valley of the Sun chapter in Phoenix is already planning NEXT YEAR’S regional conference. The board has dates picked out (April 1-2, 2016), a likely venue (the Heard Museum, on light rail with its own stop from the airport and plenty of hotels within walking/rail distance!) and half the programming plotted out already. Nice work, Phoenix! Looking further ahead, Las Vegas is the likely location for the 2017 regional conference and San Diego is gearing up to host the 2018 gathering. Great planning, everyone. You have your work cut out for you to top the excellent effort that San Francisco put into planning and throwing such a great party.

5) The names of some candidates for the next SPJ board cycle were announced in Indianapolis. New candidates have until about a week before EIJ15 to announce their candidacy. So far, there are only two contested elections (secretary-treasurer and at-large director). Yes, I intend on running again, but I encourage anyone interested in being a candidate to contact Sonny Albarado, past president of SPJ and this year’s nominations chair, or click here for more info.

6) Chapter grants, which SPJ has doled out in the past (in our region, for instance, to Phoenix and Hawaii), are changing. The good news is the regional directors have $1,000 for chapter grants (so if you have a great program you believe would benefit from a cash infusion, please email me the details and your pitch). But the bad news is that conventional chapter grants were removed from the FY2016 budget because of staff concerns they were difficult to manage and too few chapters made requests. I tried to get the regional directors to advocate for retaining them at a regional directors meeting Saturday, but the suggestion didn’t catch on because other directors figured we should see how requests (and awards) go for the pot of money we control. So apply today!

7) SPJ updated and expanded its job bank! Good luck finding work, if you’re looking!

8) For more about the national board meeting, please read SPJ President Dana Neuts’ thorough recap. Of note in Dana’s post is this section about our 2016 national convention destination:

The board discussed how to handle the proposed Marriage & Conscience Act now in committee in Louisiana. The board will send a letter to the Louisiana legislature citing its concern about the bill which addresses religious and moral beliefs, unlike other religious freedom legislation being considered in other states. Our hope is that the bill will be defeated. If not, SPJ will have to reconsider hosting its 2016 spring board meeting, and SPJ and its partner RTDNA will have to discuss the implications for EIJ16, both scheduled for New Orleans next year. President-elect Paul Fletcher and secretary-treasurer Lynn Walsh will work on the letter to the legislature and share it with the board for input by the end of this month. We will also share it with RTDNA, and they will vote on whether or not they wish to sign the letter as well.

Board member Bill McCloskey noted at the national board meeting that the Louisiana Legislature’s final day of the session is in June so we’ll know before too long the bill’s fate.

That’s a wrap. Go out and do good work.

Western region extends early-bird conference registration deadline!

BREAKING NEWS. Well, great news, at least.

We decided last night to extend the deadline for early-bird registration until March 30.

But why delay? Register today.

Click here to book your tickets for our spring conference and our Mark of Excellence breakfast.

Two other reasons to sign up now: Space is limited and our programming is phenomenal.

We’ll be updating our list of programs all week and should have it finalized soon, so please keep checking back.

Don’t delay! Register today for a discount on our spring conference, now just five weeks away

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 3.55.22 AM

Our SPJ western region spring conference will start exactly five weeks from today, and I’m proud to announce that our first day of programming is set — and stellar.

That first day on April 17 will feature a trio of intensive, hands-on, half-day workshops — on data mining, data security and data visualization — that are just the first of many reasons to register for the conference today.

First-class first-day instructors include Associated Press data journalist Serdar Tumgoren and Center for Investigative Reporting senior editor for data journalism Jennifer LaFleur,  who will show you how to dig into everything from tweets to census data and campaign finance records at our data mining session; Cyrus Farivar, senior business editor at Ars Technica, who will guide you through safe and confidential data storage at our data security session, and Silk‘s Alex Salkever and Tableau‘s Jewel Loree, who will teach you how to analyze and embed data sets into your work in eye-popping ways at our data visualization session.

Learn more at our conference website. Check back for updates on our second day of programming and information about a tour of Twitter HQ we’re setting up for Friday morning before the half-day workshops.

It’s sure to be a weekend of inspiring panels and incredible networking.

Register now to get the early-bird discount.

And be sure to buy a ticket to our Mark of Excellence awards breakfast scheduled for Saturday, April 18, when we will recognize dozens of students from more than 15 colleges in SPJ’s region 11.

Hope you come to San Francisco in April to hang out with the cool cats.

We have a venue and not one but two great keynote speakers so register now!

Our regional conference just got a lot more awesome.

We have a venue for it now, the historic Hotel Whitcomb on Market Street in San Francisco near Twitter HQ (and its well-known wall) …


… and very close to other cool stuff.

Our keynote conversation will feature two Bay Area media leaders: The San Francisco Chronicle’s new editor-in-chief, Audrey Cooper — the youngest woman to lead a major U.S. newspaper — and Holly Kernan, executive editor for news at KQED, a dynamic television, radio and digital public media outlet.

If that’s not enough for you to stop reading this blog post and lock in our early-bird discount and register right now, read on for more details.

On April 17, we’ll offer intensive hands-on workshops on data security,  building your brand and data visualization at the Impact Hub.

On April 18, we’ll feature a full day of programming at the Hotel Whitcomb, where media professionals will share expertise on innovative publishing platforms, new funding models, hot trends in podcasting, science reporting, making the most of online video, mastering data visualization and more.

Our early-bird discount ends March 17 so don’t delay. (Second chance: Register here.)

Conference-goers can also take advantage of a discounted room rate of $159 a night to stay in the Whitcomb Hotel. Book your room reservation online or by phone at (415) 626-8000. You must say that you are attending the Society of Professional Journalists’ conference to receive the conference room rate.

Check back here and on the conference website for more information. A full schedule of workshops and programming will be posted soon.

See you in San Francisco.


Journalism’s worst week

What a week. What a terrible, awful, heartrending week for our industry, our colleagues, us. Tributes and obituaries are everywhere. Heaven just got one hell of a news team, but it has been a brutal week for journalism.

Our losses seem almost unbearable. Truth, a touch more elusive.

Laurie Becklund. Bob Simon. David Carr. Alison Gordon. Stan Chambers. R.I.P., all.

Our first cruel blow came Sunday when former San Diego Tribune and Los Angeles Times border reporter Laurie Becklund died at her home of metastatic breast cancer. She was 66 and “born a reporter,” journalist Barbara Kantrowitz told the Times.

From the Times’ tribute: “Toward the end of her life, Becklund was still reporting, according to Kantrowitz, untangling the politics of breast cancer. ‘She wanted to find out why so much attention was paid to early detection and not to metastatic cancer,’ Kantrowitz said.”

Then Tuesday, within about an hour, a quick succession of stunning revelations: Jon Stewart was leaving The Daily Show, on his own terms, but still; Brian Williams was leaving NBC Nightly News, on a six-month suspension for embellishing an Iraq War anecdote, and CBS 8 sports director Kyle Kraska was shot 10 times — 10! — outside his San Diego home in a dispute with his painter and rushed to the hospital, where he remains in critical but stable condition. Each of those were stories that alone could occupy our conversations for a week. But not this week.

Because Wednesday, suddenly, 60 Minutes standout Bob Simon was dead in a car crash in New York. It was unfathomable. He was 73 and had won 27 Emmys, believed, as CBS reported, to be the most ever earned for a field reporter; he’d also won four Peabody Awards in a five-decade career.

Thursday was no less terrible: David Carr, just 58, The New York Times’ marvelous media critic and champion, collapsed in his newsroom and died. Grieving, we learned, too, that Alison Gordon, the first full-time female beat reporter in Major League Baseball, was dead at 72. Yahoo Sports recalled that her initial Baseball Writers Association of America membership card “infamously referred to her as Mr. Alison Gordon, because they’d never had a woman in the association.”

Her death brought sorrow because she was a standard-bearer, but Carr’s collapse is just heart-breaking because he was for many the heart of the industry. A gruff, no-holds-barred giant of journalism, he once told the graduates of UC Berkeley: “Being a journalist, I never feel bad talking to journalism students because it’s a grand, grand caper. You get to leave, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories, edit the tape. That’s not gonna retire your loans as quickly as it should, and it’s not going to turn you into a person who’s worried about what kind of car they should buy, but that’s kind of as it should be. I mean, it beats working.”

Twitter, as the Washington Post put it, howled with pain Thursday night, when the co-editor-in-chief of Variety wrote this:

The question certainly seemed hyphothetical.

And that was before Friday, when maybe we all thought we’d wake up, catch our breath and stagger into the weekend with the sort of bad news — someone else’s — that we typically deliver, but no.

Friday, we learned that KTLA newsman Stan Chambers was dead at 91. Over the course of 63 years — 63! — with the station, he reported more than 22,000 stories. Twenty-two thousand.

Some of those stories were sad, like the one we’re telling now. It’s just part of the job. We get that. Always has been. But this week, mourning these losses, we grieve for our own and thank them for their service and send them on their way and remember why we do the work we do. Why we try.

So thank you for your service, everyone. Now and always, caper on.

Here is Carr’s commencement speech to the University of California, Berkeley, in 2014 when he spoke of this grand, grand caper, and of us.


Save the date for our regional conference

The committee planning our Region 11 spring conference in San Francisco is working hard to make sure the trip is worth your while, so please set aside the weekend of April 17 to join us. We expect to have an announcement by the end of next week about the venue, workshops and speakers. We’ve scheduled Saturday, April 18, for a full day of programming and for the presentation of our prestigious Mark of Excellence Awards for the region’s best college journalism. We’re also considering a nighttime reception on Friday, April 17, and some optional sightseeing on Sunday, April 19.

Our venue remains in flux because the site we had chosen came back to us with a contract total higher than we expected, so we are pursuing a range of options and will pick a site very soon and share it with you.

As for the MOE Awards, judges have begun their work and expect winners will be announced next month.

We will post more information when we have it on our conference website and the website of our hosts, SPJ NorCal. We will have discounts for early-bird registration, students and SPJ members.

Thanks for your patience as we wrap up our planning. Looking forward to having a big group in April. Any questions, please email me at with the subject line “Region 11 conference.”

New campus chapters, social media accounts

Our social media reach is slowly expanding here in Region 11. As is our empire itself; I’m happy to report that we have a new SPJ chapter at CSU, Sacramento, and that California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is working to start another.

Dorothy Mills-Gregg, president of the CSU Sacramento chapter writes: “We have three programmers and each one is contacting News10, Capital Public Radio, and the Sacramento Bee to get a tour. … After our first tour, we have the idea of partnering with a club on campus to discuss their issues in the media. For example, we could partner with the Pride Center, which is very active on our campus, and do a panel on LGBT communities covered by the media. Also, there is a newspaper called the Homeward Street Journal which does something with the homeless that we want to look into and see if there’s anything we can do with them.”

At Cal Poly Pomona, Department of Communication assistant professor Jason Turcotte is excited about the prospect of a chapter: “It’s something the Communication Department here has wanted for awhile and it’s long overdue. We have many eager, hard-working students who are looking to become more engaged professionally.”

Helping these two chapters get off to good starts would be just one way I want to improve communication and connections between pros and student SPJ members. I also recently met with the San Diego State University chapter (it was a short commute, I know) to present students with their 2013-2014 outstanding Region 11 campus chapter award and help them figure out what events and speakers they’d like to have this year. If I can help you with any of your chapters, please let me know.

To that end, I’m still building out our Twitter (@SPJregion11) and Facebook (SPJ Region 11) channels.

Can Ello be far behind?

The Facebook page will be a place to showcase news about regional conferences, blog posts and more.

The Twitter page will be an account to follow for chapter news, journalism tips and trends. My aim is to post more frequently in that space than on Facebook.

We’re just getting started so please like and follow those accounts and tell us what you want to see on them. One way is to ping me on Twitter at either @SDuncovered or @SPJregion11. Or you can email me at Cheers.


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