The San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) held its annual award banquet on Wednesday July 29 at the Bali Hai Restaurant. The evening began with the acknowledgement of some of the changes that have occurred on the media scene this past year. The observation that the words “Papa Doug” have been uncoupled from references to the Union Tribune was accompanied with applause– and laughter.
SPJ President Matt Hall noted that the Voice of San Diego has turned ten and that the San Diego Free Press celebrated its third anniversary. But the changes noted weren’t solely about staying power. The San Diego Daily Transcript which began publishing in 1885 is closing its doors after a hundred and thirty year run.
Journalism and the media platforms which provide it continue to be at an existential crossroads that tests their relevancy, independence and solvency. The San Diego Union Tribune’s Jeff McDonald, the 2015 San Diego Journalist of the Year, spoke about the need to counteract the influence of corporate media.
The San Diego Free Press exists to counteract that corporate media influence through the practice of citizen journalism. This unique brand of journalism provides a voice to the under-served and marginalized in the region. At its most effective, it speaks truth to power in an accessible, authentic way.
SDFP editor Doug Porter, who writes the weekday column The Starting Line, won two awards this year. This is the third year that Doug has been acknowledged for his work. This year he was recognized for Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden Leaks in the Opinion/Editorial category for November 2014 Election Analysis and Results in the Political/Government Story category.
Doug’s commitment to the alternative press goes back quite a few decades. He was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. We are very happy that he is spending his retirement raising hell.
SDFP contributor Norma Damashek also won an award in the Political/Government Story category for her article San Diego’s Genome. Norma is a long-time civic activist who focuses on promoting decision-making that serves the public good. She has spearheaded community-based coalitions and served on city and regional-government task forces and as past president of San Diego’s League of Women Voters. Her commentary on Civic San Diego is a must read.
Contributor Vanessa Ceceña garnered an award for one of the most popular articles published on SDFP– Immigration, Deportation and Family Separation. This article was published almost a year ago and continues to get daily hits.
Vanessa is a native San Diegan who grew up on the U.S.-Mexico border. She received her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California and her Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her focus has been on immigration and Mexican indigenous communities from Oaxaca. We hope to hear more from her.
Video-essayist Horacio Jones won a Video Feature award for Barrio Logan Art Show for the 43 Missing Mexican Students. The subject of the missing students is still very topical but there has been little coverage of it here in San Diego. Horacio’s video shows the deep concern for these students on this side of the border, in Barrio Logan.
Horacio has been a video producer, director, camera operator and editor for over 10 years. He has directed several documentaries, short films and numerous corporate and event videos. Currently he is the owner of Cinema Viva where he oversees the day-to-day video production and editing tasks necessary to maintain a successful video production company. He also teaches filming and editing techniques to students attending the Film Connection Film Institute.
Editor Brent Beltrán won an award for Street Tacos and Craft Beer Come to Barrio Logan in the Review/Criticism category. Brent has interviewed artists, community leaders and political representatives. He has written reviews of vibrant art venues and restaurants in Logan Heights and Barrio Logan. He is also attuned to the showdown over the future of Barrio Logan that he sees on the horizon as downtown development extends eastward.
Brent describes himself as “a third generation pocho and second generation San Diegan that lives next door to Chicano Park in Barrio Logan.” He’s the former publisher of Calaca Press and currently writes the column Desde la Logan.
Editor Anna Daniels won awards for After the Wars, City Heights in the Multi-cultural category and For the Love of Tamales in the Food Story category. Anna worked at the old Central Library information desk on E Street for 26 years. She is a long time activist in her City Heights community and writes the column City Heights Up Close and Personal.
The majority of our writers have not gone to journalism school, although a few of them have. SDFP writers include published authors and poets, video essayists, cartoonists, organizers, civic leaders–and activists. They deliver up unique grass roots news and progressive views for our growing readership.
Here’s to another year! Thank you all for your commitment and support.