Media people

SPJ's distinguished journalists of the year in LA

SPJ_LA-logo.pngThe Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has announced its Distinguished Journalist honorees for 2015. They are Steve Loeper, the West Coast entertainment editor at Associated Press; Frank Suraci, city editor of the Daily Breeze; Frank Mottek, business news anchor at KNX; David Ono, co-anchor on ABC7 Eyewitness News; and Adrian Glick Kudler, the senior editor of Curbed LA. The chapter will also recognize Don Barrett, the creator of As usual, the winners will actually receive the honors at a banquet in the spring, date and location to be determined.

The group also gives a Freedom of Information award and this year it goes to Theodore Boutrous, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

SPJ-LA also held board elections and added Sarah Favot, county government reporter for the Daily News and the Los Angeles News Group, to the board. Journalism professor Richard Hendrickson was also elected to a one-year term to fill a seat vacated earlier this year.

Four incumbents were reelected. They are: Joel Bellman, freelance writer and former press deputy for Supervisor Sheila Kuehl; Stephanie Bluestein, journalism assistant professor at Cal State Northridge; Navid Nonahal, freelance journalist; and David Zahniser, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times.

The Distinguished Journalist awards are by media category. Here are their bios, from SPJ-LA.

Print (circulation over 90,000)

A Southern California native and graduate of Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge), Steve Loeper began his journalism career on the assignment desk of KNXT Channel 2 in Los Angeles (now KCBS) in 1968, working in support of the “Big News,” a pioneer of the hour-long local news format. The Manson murders and Sylmar earthquake were among his biggest stories while at Channel 2. In 1973, he joined the LA bureau of The Associated Press and has worked there in various capacities ever since, including general assignment reporter, broadcast editor, desk supervisor, news editor, administrative news editor and since 2009, West Coast entertainment editor. During his more than four decades at AP’s L.A. office, and through numerous technological transitions, Loeper has coordinated coverage of some of the city’s biggest stories, including the 1984 Olympics, 1992 LA riots, Northridge earthquake, O.J. Simpson trial, 2000 Democratic National Convention, Michael Jackson saga, more than 35 Oscar shows and far too many studio junkets. He also led the bureau’s intern program for two decades and many of his recruits have gone on to successful careers both within the AP and elsewhere in journalism, which Loeper regards as one of the more rewarding elements of his career.

Print (circulation under 90,000)

Frank Suraci is the Pulitzer Prize-winning city editor of the Daily Breeze, where he has worked for more than 40 years. Frank has covered or overseen the paper's coverage of several huge national stories -- among them the years-long McMartin Preschool molestation case, passage of the ground-breaking Proposition 13, the O.J. Simpson murder case and a deadly plane crash at Los Angeles International Airport. In 2015, the paper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for local journalism for its investigation into corruption at an area school district, which prompted investigations by the District Attorney's Office and the FBI that are ongoing. Frank has also mentored scores of young reporters who now fill cubicles at the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, KNBC and many other newsrooms across the country.


Frank Mottek is the voice of business news in Los Angeles. An award-winning broadcast journalist with more than 30 years of experience, Frank currently anchors the morning drive business reports on CBS station KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO and the KNX Money Hour. He provided daily coverage of the 2008 financial crisis, the Great Recession and stock market updates. Since joining CBS in Los Angeles in 1992, Frank has served as reporter and anchor on KNX as well as business anchor on KCAL9-TV and spot reporter for KCBS-TV CBS2. For 10 years, he also worked as reporter and business news anchor on the KTLA Channel 5 News at 10 and the KTLA Morning News. Starting at age 26, Frank was the substitute stock market anchor for Paul Kangas on "The Nightly Business Report" on PBS from 1989 through 1991. His TV experience also includes anchoring and reporting on WTVJ in Miami where he was part of the station's Peabody-award winning TV coverage of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Frank has won numerous awards from the AP, UPI, RTNDA, L.A. Press Club, PRSA-LA, Junior Achievement of Southern California and the Radio-TV News Association of Southern California (RTNA) including many Golden Mike Awards. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of SPJ/LA, the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California and the Concern Foundation for Cancer Research in Beverly Hills.


David Ono is the co-anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. He also anchors with Coleen Sullivan on Eyewitness News on KDOC-TV at 7 p.m. David grew up in Texas and is a graduate of the University of North Texas. His career has included stops at KOVR in Sacramento, KDBC in El Paso, KOSA in Midland/Odessa and KXAS in Dallas. David joined ABC7 in 1996. During his tenure, David has hosted Eye on L.A. and co-anchored Eyewitness News with his current co-anchor Ellen Leyva for close to two decades. He has witnessed history worldwide, covering Hurricane Katrina, Haiti's earthquake and Japan's tsunami. He traveled across Europe and Asia chronicling brave acts of the Nisei soldiers from World War II. He covered the Royal Wedding in London, tracked drug runners through Central America and reported from Boston after the tragic marathon bombing and from Paris this year as the historic city was crippled with fear. Ono has trained with the FBI, the elite Los Angeles Sheriff’s SWAT team, ICE and the Los Angeles Port Police. He interviewed President Obama at the White House, reported live from Israel during the Intifada, and has extensively covered the Pope. David has won five Edward R. Murrow awards, 20 Emmys, four National Asian American Journalists Association Awards and two RTDNA National Unity Awards.


Adrian Glick Kudler has been the senior editor of Curbed LA since 2011, covering the physical landscape, built environment, culture and identity of Los Angeles and its neighborhoods. Her writing on Los Angeles has also been published in the New York Times and Los Angeles magazine. She grew up in New England and has lived in Los Angeles for 10 years.

Freedom of Information Award

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., a partner in the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, is co-chair of the firm’s Appellate and Constitutional Law Group and a First Amendment lawyer. He also is a member of the firm’s five-person global Management Committee. Boutrous has represented clients in the federal and state appellate courts throughout the nation in a wide spectrum of cases. He has argued more than 80 appeals, including before the Supreme Court of the United States, 11 different federal circuit courts of appeals, eight different state supreme courts and a multitude of other appellate and trial courts. Boutrous has successfully persuaded appellate courts to overturn some of the largest jury verdicts in history, including the largest defamation verdict of all time. He frequently represents media organizations, reporters and others in First Amendment matters such as reporters’ privilege battles, defamation cases, litigation seeking public access to judicial records and court proceedings, and asylum proceedings for journalists in danger. The National Law Journal selected Boutrous as one of America’s “100 Most Influential Lawyers,” calling him, “a media law star.” The Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals have named Boutrous one of the “100 Best Lawyers in California” for 10 years in a row. Lawdragon named him one of the “500 Leading Lawyers in America,” calling him “one of the best media and appellate attorneys in the nation.”

Special Recognition

Don Barrett founded and published the Los Angeles-centric radio information website For nearly 20 years, Don chronicled radio news and followed some 6,000 people in Los Angeles who worked in radio over the past 50 years. A onetime columnist for the OC Register, Don is a historian of contemporary Los Angeles radio history and author of "Los Angeles Radio People," published in 1995 and followed by a second encyclopedic volume the following year. He spent 10 years in radio working as a disc jockey, program director and general manager. After launching KIQQ (K-100) Los Angeles in the early 1970s, Don joined the motion picture business, working as a marketing executive at Columbia, Universal, and MGM/UA. He was part of the marketing team that released “E.T.,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Rocky” and multiple James Bond movies. Don's Southern California roots include a bachelor's degree from Chapman University, where he also earned a master's in psychology.

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