SPJ/LA Announces 2015 Distinguished Journalist and FOI Honorees


ABC7 Eyewitness News anchor/reporter David Ono. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

ABC7 Eyewitness News anchor/reporter David Ono. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists said Dec. 23 it will honor five local journalists, a First Amendment lawyer and the founder of a radio news website at its 40th annual awards banquet next spring.

The Distinguished Journalist honorees include longtime regional journalists practicing in print, radio, television and digital media. They are: Steve Loeper, West Coast entertainment editor at the Associated Press; Frank Suraci, city editor of The Daily Breeze; Frank Mottek, business news anchor at KNX; David Ono, co-anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News; and Adrian Glick Kudler, senior editor of Curbed LA.

The Freedom of Information award will go to Theodore Boutrous, a partner in the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The chapter will also recognize Don Barrett, who chronicled the personalities behind Los Angeles radio news for nearly 20 years on LARadio.com.

SPJ/LA presents the Distinguished Journalist awards to members of the profession who demonstrate good news judgment, a strong sense of ethics and a passion for getting the story right. Honorees are journalists who have achieved a record of career accomplishments. For nearly four decades, the chapter has recognized reporters, editors and photographers in print and broadcast journalism. Since 1997, the chapter has honored journalists in four categories: television, radio, newspapers with a circulation of less than 90,000, and newspapers with a circulation of 90,000 or more.

The Distinguished Work in New Media award, now simply the Distinguished Journalist award in the digital category, was created in 2008 and is given to a journalist who uses digital media’s unique characteristics and capabilities while striving to uphold traditional journalism’s highest standards of honesty, accuracy, responsibility and accountability.

The Freedom of Information award honors a non-journalist who has helped promote First Amendment issues. Previous winners have worked in the legal profession, academia, government and nonprofit organizations.

The awards banquet will be held in the spring of 2016, with the date and location to be announced at a later date.

SPJ is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to promoting high standards of ethical behavior and encouraging the free practice of journalism. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. The Los Angeles professional chapter marked its 75th anniversary in 2009.

Distinguished Journalist Award Winners

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 L.A. 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 L.A. 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. He 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. Suraci 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.

Radio — Frank Mottek is the voice of business news in Los Angeles. An award-winning broadcast journalist with more than 30 years of experience, he 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, Mottek 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, Mottek 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. He 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 boards of SPJ/LA, the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California, and the Concern Foundation for Cancer Research in Beverly Hills.

Television — 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. Ono 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. He joined ABC7 in 1996.

During his tenure, Ono 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 Department 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.

Digital — 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 U.S. Supreme Court, 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 LARadio.com. For nearly 20 years, he 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, Barrett 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, he 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. Barrett’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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