OUR 2020 JOURNALISM TEAM

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Reflecting the diverse voices in our communities

 

East County Magazine has significantly expanded our reporting and production team in 2020, thanks to our Facebook Journalism Grant. 

Here is our lineup of talent for our award-winning online news coverage, radio show, and new in 2020, virtual productions on issues that matter in San Diego’s East County during the pandemic--when timely and accurate news is more important than ever.

Our Editor and Founder

Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of experience as a journalist and editor, also hosting East County Magazine’s radio show on KNSJ-FM.  She has won more than 350 journalism awards, including the American Society of Journalists & Authors’ national Arlene Award for community journalism and San Diego Press Club’s Best of Show award. She is the recipient of a Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and is a three-time recipient of the James Julian Award for public interest reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists in San Diego.  She also received many top honors for news, investigative reporting, First Amendment protection, multicultural, environmental and political reports, columns and feature stories from SPJ and San Diego Press Club. 

She has covered major news stories including California wildfires and earthquakes, Congressional and presidential elections, refugee and immigrant issues,  local politics, the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental and land use controversies, and more. A former columnist and freelance writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, she has also worked as contributing editor of Nutrition Business Journal, correspondent for the California Real Estate Journal, nonfiction editor of San Diego Writers Monthly, as well as senior national investigative reporter for RawStory.com. Her works have appeared in many national and regional publications, from Woman’s Day to  Arizona Highways.  Under her leadership, East County Magazine has won 116 major journalism awards and now averages 12 million hits and a half million visits a month.

Our News Reporting Team

Mike Allen writes about government agencies and other topics for East County Magazine, mainly covering the Santee City Council. Among the newspapers he’s written for are the San Diego Business Journal, San Diego Daily Transcript, the Vista Press, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He has won numerous journalism awards including a fellowship to the Stonier School of Banking by the American Bankers Association while employed as a financial reporter.

 

He is a graduate of Fordham University in Bronx, N.Y. where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. He now lives in Santee.

 

Angela De Joseph is the founder of Women of Color Roar Media and produces the annual Women of Color Roar Breakfast with a mission to support, nurture, and encourage Black women to run for political office and seek careers in public service. 

A life-long journalist, Angela is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who began her career as an editor at Essence Magazine in New York. She hosts a weekly political talk radio show on KNSJ FM in San Diego. She is the chair of Indivisible Watu, a grass-roots community activist organization dedicated to voter education and engagement. Angela is also a Program Manager for GRID Alternatives, the nation's largest nonprofit solar installer and training program that places low-income community members in clean energy jobs. 

Briana Gomez holds an MBA from the University of La Verne and a Bachelor of Science in International Business from Azusa Pacific University and freelances as a journalist.  She is originally from La Mesa and lived in Japan for five years in her youth. After this experience, she took an interest in travelling and learning about global cultures and cultural identities.  She first travelled to Hungary in 2013 to teach English on a gap year before obtaining her master’s degree. Appreciating the experience, she returned in 2018 to pursue journalism and research on multicultural communication. 

 

Gomez has written for online and local publications in Budapest and in her native San Diego, including coverage in East County Magazine. She is passionate about human rights and minority issues, bringing awareness to ethnic groups in our community. She also sits on the committee for the Arab and Muslim Community Coalition and is an active member of the San Diego Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and San Diego House of Lebanon. 

 

Dr. Helen Horvath is a psychologist, organizational development consultant and published author on a variety of psychology and business topics.  A military veteran, Dr. Horvath has authored articles for East County Magazine focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our military healthcare system, local nonprofit organizations, businesses, and tribal enterprises. She has also examined COVID-19 research/innovations.

 

As a speaker, she has presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference, Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and other key professional organizations.  She is a former marriage and family therapist and published a relationship book entitled “Put a Period to IT: When Divorce is the Option.”  

 

Paul Kruze, contributing editor of East County Magazine, is a multimedia journalist with experience in print, broadcast and web platforms. A tenacious investigative journalist, he has  covered a variety of subjects, particularly governmental and educational issues. 

He has been recognized with multiple awards from San Diego Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists, including the Gloria Penner Award for political reporting from SPJ as well as first place honors for investigative reporting, news features and multicultural reporting from SDPC.  His work appears in local and regional venues as well as in nationwide syndication. His honors for works with ECM include his in-depth reporting on the El Cajon City Council,  Cajon Valley Union School District, local business news, and the East County Performing Arts Center.

Dr. Henri Migala is the founder of Henri Migala Photography. He has won numerous photography awards and most recently had one of his images chosen as a “Top 10” finalist  in the  Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest out of 48,000 submissions.  The independent photographer has previously provided video and photography for ECM ranging from bighorn sheep in the Anza-Borrego Desert to presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s San Diego visit. 

He has lived and worked in 15 countries in global health, international development, higher education administration and humanitarian aid including disaster relief. His past positions include Director of  International House at the University of California San Diego, Executive Dean and Grants Administrator for Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, and Adjunct Faculty instructor at San Diego City College. He holds a doctor of education degree from San Diego State university, a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Texas, and a Master of Art degree at the University of Texas, where he studied anthropology. A volunteer and board member with Aguilas del Desierto, Inc., he helps save the lives of lost migrants. As a Rotary Club President, he has  worked with International Relief Teams.  He speaks three languages (English, Spanish and French) and has won many awards for community service and international activities include working to eradicate polio through the World Health Organization, as well as participating in rural, border and cross-cultural health issues, disaster relief and reconstruction.  Dr. Migala has published numerous academic papers and written nearly $30 million in grants that have been funded. 

Iris Neal is an award-winning journalist. She attended  San Diego State University. She began her 20 plus year journalism career as an Editorial Assistant/Writer- Reporter for Senior World News magazine. Additionally, she worked as a Staff Writer/Reporter for the Ramona Sentinel and the Coronado Journal. More recently, she served as Editor for the East County Californian. 

In her spare time, Neal works as a stand-up  comedian, performing throughout San Diego. 

Emmet Pierce is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about San Diego County. His background includes reporting on business, government, politics, personal finance, technology, real estate, education, environmental issues, ethnic diversity, and criminal justice. His work has been published by such outlets as The AARP Bulletin, AOL Finance, Bankrate, CBS News, East County Magazine, Forbes, Fox Business, Insure.com, Money Talks News, MSN Money, The San Diego Business Journal, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Seattle Times.

In 2019, Pierce received 11 writing awards from the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the San Diego Press Club. The categories included business, education, multicultural reporting, criminal justice, and housing. 

Kendra Sitton is a local editor at San Diego Community Newspaper Group who also serves as the editor of San Diego Uptown News and Downtown News. A freelance reporter for other publications, Sitton has covered land use issues in Spring Valley, Jamul and Otay for East County Magazine and also wrote a long-form piece on Deerhorn Valley's recovery 10 years after the Harris Fire. Currently, Sitton has shifted focus to covering the border and immigrant and refugee communities. 

 

Sitton grew up in East County and returned to the region after receiving a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications with minors in Sociology and Global Cultural studies at Concordia University Irvine, graduating magna cum laude. Reporting by Sitton has been recognized by the San Diego Press Club, including awards in 2019 for articles on on San Diego Police Department’s policies regarding transgender civilians, Dr. Lillian Faderman’s history of lesbianism, and the Arab film festival. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Sitton is most proud of work tracing the intersection of religion and queer people. Sitton plans to continue writing and reporting on issues that matter.   

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer who has covered a wide-variety of subjects ranging from civil protests, community news and features to health issues including Covid-19, PFAS toxins and Newcastle disease. 

In addition to being a part of the East County Magazine team, she has freelanced for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group, Local Web Media, the Chula Vista Star News, San Diego Family Magazine, Military Press, and a number of other newspapers. She previously co-hosted the Destination East County feature on our radio show, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down community events and resulted in a temporary halt to our events coverage.

Our Features Writing Team

Liz Alper, sportswriter, holds a degree from San Diego State University in film television and news media with a minor in digital and social media studies.  She has covered professional, college and high school sports for East County Magazine. She has also recorded scripts and provided sound editing for our radio show on KNSJ, as well as copy editing services for our online news site.

Alper previously hosted a morning news show as an on-air personality for KCR, SDSU’s radio station, providing news, sports, entertainment, traffic and weather updates.

David Coddon is a longtime arts and entertainment journalist specializing in theater coverage. The former editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Night & Day section, he is today the UT’s Arts & Culture Newsletter writer, and also contributes both entertainment and feature stories to a number of other Southern California publications.

In addition, he is the author of three novels and co-host of a national podcast, “The Best Version With Dave and Dex.” 

Bobbi Zane is a travel writer specializing in covering Southern California for guide books and magazines, including Fodor’s Travel Publications. Her love of wanderlust also led her to author books including Quick Escapes San Diego and serve as managing editor of Trailer Life Publications. She is also the former owner of the Yellow Brick Road Book Shop.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California. Originally from Los Angeles, where she graduated from Hollywood High School, Zane now resides in Julian, California, a historic gold rush town, where she chairs the Julian Parade Committee. 

Our Radio and Production Team

Jonathan Goetz co-hosts our East County Magazine Radio radio show on KNSJ 89.1 FM, along with Miriam Raftery. He also provides sound editing for our  program and assists in our Zoom productions.

In addition, Jonathan is a freelance reporter.  He loves exploring East County's mountain and desert communities and won a travel award from San Diego Press Club for his coverage of the Anza-Borrego region. He has also been honored for community reporting, sharing a breaking news award from Society of Professional Journalists for our team's coverage of the Alfred Olango shooting by a police officer in El Cajon.

He holds a bachelor's degree from Devry University in technical and sustainable management, also running the soundboard and providing sound editing for our radio show. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys singing with Kaleidoscope Carolers.

John Fistere is a nonprofit management professional who has spear-headed creation of a donor database to support fundraising efforts that benefit East County Magazine and the East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts. 

He is a news broadcaster on our radio show and has previously been heard on KPBS, San Diego’s public broadcasting network.  

Fistere holds a masters of mechanical engineering degree from Yale University and also studied at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon.  He worked for many years as a systems engineer at Solar Turbines and later as executive director of the Prostate Cancer Research and Education Foundation. He specializes in software development and systems engineering.  

Reina Menasche hosts “Bookshelf” on our radio show. She calls her first love “writing fiction,” though she is also a social worker, university instructor, and actress.  Her novels and other fiction have been recognized in contests by San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, San Diego Book Awards and Southern California Writers Conference. 

 

She has performed in theatres and festivals throughout San Diego. These roles include historical characters with “Our Stories” and at the Mark Twain Fest in Old Town, as well as with Chronos Theatre Group, where she has served as Educational Director. One of her original educational plays, The Brain Game, received an Innovative Grant from the First 5 Commission of San Diego.  Professionally, she has spent 20 years as a masters-level social worker working with children, teens, and adults. She has also served as Treatment Coordinator for Volunteers of America Southwest, and as Lead Faculty and Faculty Advisor at the University of Phoenix.  

John Sepulvado has won many major broadcast journalism awards including the 2011 Peabody Award for coordinating coverage of CNN’s BP oil spill coverage.  He is also the recipient of seven Edward R. Murrow awards, numerous PRNDI Awards for Investigative Journalism and Writing, and the ONA Award for National Excellence in Journalism.  

He has done production of East County Magazine’s radio show as well as script writing and on-air vocal talent. His experience includes serving as California Bureau Chief and report host for KQED radio in San Francisco, Weekend Edition host at Oregon Public Radio, and co-founding KXRY-FM in Portland, Oregon.  He holds a journalism degree from Florida A&M.  Currently the communications consultant for Better World Group, Sepulvado devises media strategies promoting a healthier environment for Californians.

Mike Tentor serves as webmaster for East County Magazine, also providing high-speed secure web hosting for our popular news site and other major clients. A Drupal master, he founded Werks.net in 1996 and also operates DiegoNet, designing custom web applications. He has provided outstanding and reliable technical support to keep our site running smoothly over many years.

East County Magazine gratefully thanks the Facebook Journalism Project for support through its COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program to help make reporting possible on the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable local populations. #FacebookJournalismProject.

You can donate to support our local journalism efforts during the pandemic at https://www.EastCountyMedia.org/donate.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

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