By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Paul Kruze and Miriam Raftery
July 18, 2018 (San Diego) -- The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) San Diego Chapter presented the Gloria Penner Award for political affairs reporting to East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery and reporter Paul Kruze for their entry titled "Kalasho threats."
The judges commented, "Nothing says tough political reporting like exposing a corrupt politican, and the judges believe that Gloria Penner would have been proud of the journalists' work to expose El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho."
The award, named for the late, great KPBS political journalist, was one of four honors won by ECM at last night's SPJ awards dinner at the Kona Kai resort on Shelter Island. The award includes a $250 prize.
The entry detailed threats and retaliatory actions made by Councilman Kalasho, a mayoral candidate, after our news publication reported on his legal and ethical controversies including judicial findings of sexual harassment, fraud, defamation and cyberharassment against beauty pageant contestants and a businessman.
The retaliatory actions included threats of a libel suit (despite not disputing any facts in our reports), harassment and defamation on social media. After the award entry was submitted, the harassment escalated; Kruze recently filed a complaint with El Cajon Police accusing Kalasho of threatening him with a trained attack dog and inciting death threats against Kruze on Kalasho's Facebook page.
Raftery, previously a guest on the Editor's Roundtable show hosted by Penner on KPBS, states, "I greatly admired Gloria Penner for her tenacious, honest and hard-hitting coverage of local politics, and I thank SPJ for this important recognition. We are deeply honored to receive this award, and I thank Paul Kruze for his courageous reporting despite threats and intimidation by El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho."
East County Magazine also received three additional awards. These included second place in columns for our "Media Watch" column, a third place award in the arts and entertainment category for Kruze's coverage of the East County Performing Arts Center in his article, "El Cajon approves landmark agreement with Live Nation to reopen ECPAC," and a second place in the essay category for Raftery's piece written on the 10-year anniversary of the Harris Fire, titled, "A reporter's reflections on the firestorms of 2007."
For a full list of SPJ 2018 award winners, see https://sdspj.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/2018-spj-san-diego-awards-fina....