OB Rag and San Diego Free Press Bring Home Four Awards in Society of Professional Journalists Competition

by on July 14, 2014 · 4 comments

in Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Writers Frank Gormlie, Doug Porter, Anna Daniels, and John Lawrence Recognized


By Staff

On July 10 the the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) held its annual journalism awards banquet at Bali Hai on Shelter Island. The names of all of the winners of the competition had been released in June. The list included Frank Gormlie, editor of the OB Rag, plus San Diego Free Press editors Doug Porter, Anna Daniels and weekly contributor John Lawrence. First, second and third place winners would be announced at the banquet as well as the Journalist of the Year award.

Eight of us, representing the OB Rag and the San Diego Free Press, enjoyed a dinner on the bay against the backdrop of the city skyline and a rising, almost full moon. Matt Hall, incoming president of the local chapter of SPJ, was dragged over to the group’s table by Gormlie to talk about upcoming programs they will be sponsoring; Gormlie had met Matt during San Diego’s Occupy movement.

The program included a recognition of the familiar voices that were lost this past year with the deaths of Neil Morgan, Jerry Coleman and last year’s Journalist of the Year winner Loren Nancarrow. Afterward, Carol LeBeau, retired 10News anchor, announced the winners for broadcast, print and online journalism.

This year SDFP editor and columnist Doug Porter won his second journalism award. His Starting Line article Death by Street Planning on El Cajon Boulevard received second place for Daily Reporting and Writing, Opinion/Editorial. Last year Doug received first place for his coverage of Prop Z.

Doug has written over 600 articles since SDFP launched two years ago. He provides distinctive, informed analysis five days a week in his Starting Line column. Doug has also provided exceptional election coverage in SDFP voter guides.

SDFP contributor John Lawrence has provided weekly in-depth coverage on a variety of topics including climate change, public banking and finances, health and social trends. He emphasizes the impact of policy–for better or for worse– upon citizens and consumers.

John won second place in the Environmental Story category for An Analysis of the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan. It is a timely subject and we will no doubt be hearing more from John on the topic.

SDFP editor and columnist Anna Daniels received an Honorable Mention for her column City Heights: Up Close & Personal. Last year, as part of SDFP’s focus on neighborhoods, she introduced readers to the place she has called home for over twenty five years.

To understand City Heights, it must be rolled across the tongue and savored in the local markets and restaurants. It must be heard in the cacophony of buses, street vendors, garbage trucks, music from quinceañeras and children’s voices. It must be felt on an early morning canyon walk.

Frank Gormlie, as editor of the OB Rag and a member of the SDFP editorial board,  has a unique historical overview of San Diego politics that extends back to the 1960’s. He was an editor of the original OB Rag – which was published from 1970 to 1976when it was in a print format and has been a long time Ocean Beach activist.

Frank received Honorable Mention in the News or Feature series for his OB Rag two part series Digging Tunnels Under the 3o Foot Height Limit. Both of these articles generated significant online discussion. Frank’s extensive coverage of the OB community plan is also timely. His summary article A History of Community Planning in Ocean Beach is a must read on the topic.

The SPJ program continued with the announcement of the Journalist of the Year award winner, KPBS Senior Editor Mark Sauer, who provided the keynote address.

Awards were also given to journalists in College Media. The Southwestern College Sun received an astounding number of awards. Joaquin Junco, whom we know as Junco Canché at SDFP, received an award for his political cartoons at the Sun. We are keeping our eyes on this upcoming generation of journalists.

The San Diego Free Press was a unique presence at the award banquet. The SDFP is a non-commercial site under the direction of an all-volunteer editorial board. The growing list of SDFP contributors write without any financial compensation. The editorial board and contributors hold joint meetings to socialize, talk politics and poetry and possibilities.

The OB Rag, although with a much smaller staff, usually publishes online five days a week, Monday through Friday, with local news and events about OB and Point Loma, plus coverage of  environmental and coastal issues, as well as other important aspects of modern life.  The OB Rag sustains itself through a small number of advertisers and generous donations from its supporters, and is able to pay its writers at times a pittance.

It is clear to those of us who won awards that they were made possible by the ongoing commitment of SDFP editors Annie Lane, Brent Beltrán, Rich Kacmar, Patty Jones, Anna Daniels, Frank Gormlie and Doug Porter, who have guided it for two years now with grassroots news and progressive views, and the OB Rag – which is now in its 7th year of publishing online – is able to continue also with Patty Jones, and stalwarts Judi Curry and Matthew Wood. The OB Rag was the original host for the San Diego Free Press.

Thank you all.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Powell July 14, 2014 at 6:12 pm

How awesome is this? Congrats to the winners! Something you can all be very proud of.


patty jones July 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Smiling and having a Mother Jones moment.

Thank you.


want2surf July 15, 2014 at 9:41 am

Congrats OB Raggers!!!!!


Dickie July 16, 2014 at 8:22 am

Big congratulations! It is too rare that real journalistic excellence is rewarded . . . these days it is often punished, witness Julian Assange . . . but the rag and freepress really deserve it as do each of you who received an award. Thanks to you all.


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