SPJ's distinguished journalists of (next) year

sandy-banks-vert.jpgThe Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has picked its five award winners for next year. The chapter's distinguished journalist honorees will be Sandy Banks, pictured, the Los Angeles Times columnist; Jon Regardie, the executive editor at the Downtown News; John Brooks, the former reporter and anchor at KNX 1070 and KFWB 980; and Oswaldo Borraez, the reporter for “Noticias Univision 34.” The chapter’s Distinguished Work in New Media Award will be given to Damien Newton, founder of Streetsblog Los Angeles.

The SPJ will also recognize LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey "for his dedication to providing access to reporters." The group says: "[Humphrey] has worked to bring transparency to the Los Angeles Fire Department through social media. These efforts include a robust Twitter account, blog and even a Web camera that often shows Humphrey at work."

The SPJ banquet will be sometime in the spring; venue unknown. Here are the bios provided.

Oswaldo Borraez serves as a field reporter for Univision 34’s “Noticias Univision 34.” Borraez has received various awards such as the Peabody award for excellence in reporting, Emmy and Golden Mikes awards, as well as a Gabriel. Recently, Borraez broke stories on several pivotal scandals within the Los Angeles metropolitan area such as the investigation of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office and its serious rat infestation problems, which resulted in the mutilation of several corpses. For Borraez, among all of the memories he has had in his profession, the death of the first Hispanic soldiers in Iraq was probably the one that made the biggest impact in his life. Prior to joining Univision 34 in 1995, Borraez worked at KVEA-TV and KWHY-TV. He has worked for radio stations KALI, KFWB and CNN radio. Currently serving on the board of the Radio and Television News Association, Borraez is also an instructor of journalism, broadcasting and investigative reporting at the University of California, Los Angeles.


John Brooks is a native of New York, where he first went on the radio at WARC at Allegheny College. He moved to Los Angeles in 1970, with his wife and daughter, and by 1974, he returned to radio at KVEN/KHAY in Ventura. After becoming a news director there, he began a 34-year career in Los Angeles radio at KFWB in 1979.
Brooks covered the news either on the scene as a reporter or presented it from the studio as an anchor. Some of the notable stories he covered include the first nine space shuttle landings, The Hillside Strangler trial, 1988 Republican Convention, 2008 Democratic Convention, and the L.A. riots. Brooks served as a morning drive anchor at KFWB for eight years and as a reporter at KNX until his retirement in March 2012. He began working for KNX after the two CBS stations moved into the same building in 2005 and finished his career as a morning news reporter for both stations. Since retirement, Brooks helped found and was elected president of a non-profit environmental group, Citizens For Responsible Oil & Gas, in Ventura County.

During her 34 years at the Los Angeles Times, Sandy Banks has been a reporter, editor, columnist, editorial writer and director of the newspaper's internship program. She was on the team awarded a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Los Angeles riots in 1992. But she is best known for her twice-weekly columns, which explore the intersection of the personal and the political, and offer stories and voices that entertain, inspire and infuriate -- sometimes all at once. Her stories and columns have won national recognition from journalism groups, and commendations from organizations as varied as the National Council of Jewish Women and the Muslim Women's League; the Watts Community Health Foundation and the Beverly Hills Rotary Club; the California Teachers’ Association and the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients. Sandy has also taught journalism courses at USC and California State University, Northridge, and provided commentary on CNN, PBS and NPR. A Cleveland native, Sandy moved to Los Angeles to work for the Times in 1979. She has three daughters and has lived in Northridge since 1986.

Jon Regardie is the executive editor of Los Angeles Downtown News, where he oversees the day-to-day operations of the editorial department. He also writes news and feature stories, works on editorials, and pens The Regardie Report, a political humor column. A native of Washington, D.C., he has been working as a journalist in Los Angeles for two decades and has contributed to dozens of local, national and online publications. Regardie is the recipient of numerous awards for his columns, editorials and business pieces. He lives in Highland Park with his wife and two children.

Damien Newton is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative, a recognized non-profit online publishing LLC. As such, he serves as editor of Streetsblog Los Angeles, Santa Monica Next and Long Beachize. In 2009 and 2011, Streetsblog Los Angeles was named "best advocacy website" by L.A. Weekly. In 2013, Newton was awarded "best online non-political commentary" by The Los Angeles Press Club, while the American Planning Association of Los Angeles recognized Streetsblog Los Angeles as an “outstanding media outlet.” Damien holds a Masters of Arts in Public Communications from American University and was a 2011 Annenberg School of Journalism “Online Health Journalism Fellow.”


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