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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


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KUDO'S to you both!

That's the way to do it. Stand up to the bullies of the world :-)

Well Deserved

Congratulations Miriam! Well Done! Good to see the Press setting the example by putting Values over all else in the midst of constant accusations of “Fake News” and “Party Biased” reporting! Having said that, I hope the listeners at large realize that it’s their support that keeps East County Magazine afloat. As a volunteer I get nothing but I know you spend a lot of time, energy, and money keeping this site going. I hope ECM can continue to be around and keep people informed for a long time! Being acknowledged and honored by your peers serves to show those that read, listen, and donate that your doing good things and I hope, Miriam, you don’t mind me sharing that things can be very tough for you at times on the operating expense end. Someone needs to say it.