Catching Up With Brenna Lyles, SPC’s 2015 Jean Stephens Journalism Scholarship Recipient
In May, I was awarded the Jean Stephens Sacramento Press Club Scholarship which, in turn, facilitated my summer internship at The Sacramento Bee. My ten week internship instantly proved to be professional, fast-paced, engaging, and challenging.
The Sac Bee’s seasoned reporters and editors breed a newsroom environment of immense wit, insight, and intelligence – alongside a constant sense of urgency. Every day at The Bee comes with a surge of thrilling deadline-induced adrenaline. My first day, I found myself tossed into the mix and quickly realized the lofty expectations that came with being a Sac Bee intern. I am constantly motivated to push myself to my maximum potential and driven to deliver my most accurate and refined reporting.
While at The Bee, I covered a broad spectrum of stories from wildfires to food, City Hall to transportation, drownings to business. I gained daily news and features reporting experience, with numerous opportunities to go into the field. Most memorably, I covered the opening of an Elk Grove transition house for the homeless – a demographic particularly close to my heart – and experienced the endless gratitude of those served. On a weekend shift, I was sent to the river to produce a video in response to river drownings, which yielded both humorous and insightful content.
I gained photography, video reporting and editing skills to produce several media packages. Sac Bee legends – editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman, executive editor Joyce Terhaar, managing editor Scott Lebar, to name a few – offered personal insight and career advice to the interns. Perhaps most valuably, I was treated as a professional and provided the resources required to perform at a truly professional level.
Photo: In the field covering The Wragg Fire in July
If you or your company is interested in supporting Journalism scholarships, consider becoming a Press Club 50 member. For more information, visit http://sacpressclub.org/press-club-50/
“Conversations with media … over beer.” featuring “Going to the Dark Side”
Attendees of the September 2015 “Conversations with Media” found out what it’s like to transition from Hack to Flack. Does it require a call to serve? A desire to escape the constantly shifting mandates of journalism? A shift in sociopolitical ideology? Or — let’s face it — a better paycheck and more free time to spend with friends and family? The event featured three Sacramento celebrities:
Jeffrey Callison, former Capital Public Radio Insight host, now press secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Kevin Riggs, former KCRA 3 news anchor and political reporter, now senior vice president, Randle Communications
Venus Stromberg, former bureau chief at Capitol Television News Service, now public information officer, Board of Equalization
This was the second in a series of informal monthly gatherings hosted by the Sacramento Press Club to discuss a wide range of issues of interest to local journalists.
We welcome suggestions for future topics.
Robert S. Nelsen, new President of Sacramento State University
After nearly three decades as a leader in the Texas university system, Robert S. Nelsen has taken the helm of California State University, Sacramento with a bold mission: To dramatically boost graduation rates and reduce the amount of time it takes for students to acquire their degrees. Nelsen, a Montana native who still dons the cowboy boots of his rancher childhood, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Brigham Young University, and his doctorate from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought. Nelsen is taking over at Sacramento State as the university looks to have an increasing role in the city’s economic footprint. He plans to work with the Sacramento region’s leaders and employers to increase the number of internships and service-learning opportunities for students. The Sacramento Press Club welcomed President Nelsen on August 14, 2015 as he laid out his vision for Sacramento State.
Farewell Happy Hour for Marianne Russ and Jenny O’Mara of Capital Public Radio
Capital Public Radio and the Sacramento Press Club held a gathering to say farewell to longtime Capitol reporters Marianne Russ and Jenny O’Mara, who were leaving Sacramento for new adventures with their families. The event was held at KBar (1000 K St.) on Wednesday, July 15th.
Conversations with media … over beer
On July 8, 2015, SPC introduced a new feature: “Conversations with media … over beer.”
Ever wonder what consultants say about working with the press to get someone elected or get out their message? The Sacramento Press Club hosted a relaxed conversation about the line between political messaging and manipulation, and the role of a journalist in ensuring a good clean campaign and featured two of Sacramento’s most seasoned pros — veteran Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio of Forza Communications and Beth Miller of Miller Public Affairs Group, who has worked on Republican campaigns and for business groups.
This was first in a series of informal monthly gatherings hosted by the Sacramento Press Club to discuss a wide range of issues of interest to local journalists. We welcome suggestions for future topics.
Questions? Contact Allen Young email@example.com
All photos courtesy of Matias Bombal.
Discussion with medical ethicists on aid-in-dying
The issues surrounding end-of-life decisions have been front and center this year in the California Legislature as lawmakers consider so-called right-to-die legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives with medication prescribed by doctors. The California Medical Association removed its longstanding opposition to the idea, allowing SB128 to pass the state Senate. The issue gained traction nationally after a well-organized campaign by the family of a former California woman who moved to Oregon to end her life last year. The Sacramento Press Club hosted a discussion on the medical ethics surrounding aid-in-dying.
SPC was joined on June 30, 2015 by Janus Norman, senior vice president and chief lobbyist of the California Medical Association, Dr. Ben Rich, Professor and Chair of Bioethics at the University of California, Davis who specializes in physician-patient relationships and end-of-life care, and Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine.
2015 Journalism Scholarship Winners
Congratulations to Leah Horner, Jessica Hice, Chloe Lessard, Valentin Almanza-Mendez, Kate Houston, Brenna Lyles and Benjy Egel, the 2015 Journalism Scholarship recipients.
The $4,000 Jerry Gillam scholarship was awarded to Leah Horner. Leah will be a junior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall. She is the news producer for the Cal Poly student-run TV station. She has an internship lined up at a station in Maryland this summer, and is off to England in the fall to study their approach to broadcast journalism. Leah already recognizes that journalism is changing and that the future is challenging. In her letter to the judges, she wrote, “I know journalists don’t make a lot of money, but I don’t care. I’m ready for a low-income career doing my favorite thing: journalism. Reporting is my passion…I can’t wait to get into the real word and begin my career.”
The $4,000 Nereida Skelton scholarship, the winner was Jessica Hice. The Skelton scholarship is earmarked for promising students who come up through community college and are at the beginning of their journalism studies. Jessica is a first-generation college student who grew up in a tiny community in Trinity County and attended community college before entering Sacramento State and taking her first journalism courses. Her professor reports that she is a bright, hard-working, engaged student journalist who has never missed a deadline. In her application, Jessica wrote, “I may not have my degree in hand, but I am a journalist.”
The $4,000 Bob Fairbanks scholarship, the winner was Chloe Lessard, who has an unusual background. She was a pre-med student at UC Davis when she began writing about health care issues. She produced a radio talk show on the Affordable Care Act, investigative pieces on mental health services for students, and a short documentary on clinics. Even when she began writing for the Davis Enterprise, she never stopped being a pre-med student. She is headed for UC Berkeley graduate school and concurrent master degrees in Public Health and Journalism. Her goal is to cover health care issues as a reporter with expertise in public health. In an era where specialization is increasingly valued in journalism, the judges felt Chloe has a bright future.
The $4,000 Dan Walters scholarship was awarded to Valentin Almanza-Mendez. Valentin will enter Sacramento State in the fall. He is a Communications Studies major with emphasis in Digital Film Production at Sacramento City College. Additionally, at Cosumnes River College, he learned to produce, write and edit television and radio segments. He also interned as a journalist and photographer for the Sacramento News and Review. His eventual goal is to incorporate movie making and other alternative media in innovative new forms of journalism.
The recipient of the $4,000 Joan Lunden scholarship was Kate Houston, a broadcast journalism student at the University of Oregon. Kate reports that journalism is “in her DNA” – her late father was a news editor for the San Jose Mercury News, her mother is a bureau editor for KQED and her uncle works for the LA Times. The judges felt her broadcast clips already show immense promise from this very poised and polished journalist, so we look forward to tracking her career.
The $6,000 Jean Stephens scholarship, the winner was Brenna Lyles. Brenna will be a senior at UC Davis this fall. Last year, she applied for a scholarship but did not make it to the interview stage, although she had won a national award for an investigative piece she wrote for her high school newspaper. In our letter back to her, the scholarship panel encouraged her to get more experience outside the classroom and then apply again – and she did! She interned at Capital Public Radio last summer, and she is news editor, writer and co-founder of the Davis Beat, an alternative campus newspaper. Through connections she made during the scholarship interview process, Brenna will be interning at the Sacramento Bee this summer.
The $8,000 Earl Squire Behrens scholarship was awarded to Benjy Egel. Benjy will be a senior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall. He started his journalism career when he was only 15, writing sports stories for the Davis Enterprise. By the time he was a high school senior, he was covering professional and Division 1 collegiate sports in Davis and Sacramento for the newspaper. Perhaps he would have continued down the path to becoming a sports reporter, but his coverage of student government elections at Cal Poly and an unconstitutional ban on candidates speaking to the media attracted national attention last year. He spoke to the judges about the power of the media to raise awareness and impact public policy, sounding very much like a political journalist in the making. This summer he will intern at the Bee and we look forward to seeing his bylines.
Former Senator Darrell Steinberg and Elyn Saks, USC professor on mental health
Issues of mental health have gained increasing prominence in culture and politics in recent months. For National Health Month, former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, along with Elyn Saks, the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California joined the Sacramento Press Club to address the progress being made to replace stigma with care and support. Steinberg is director of policy for the newly formed Steinberg Institute and Saks is an expert on mental health issues from the inside out: She lives with schizophrenia and acute psychosis. You’ll get a personal lesson in how people deal with mental health issues as well as what policies can help. “Is it OK if I trash your office?” Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke. This was an incredibly moving and informative luncheon.
Additionally, this was also the annual SPC scholarship luncheon. Seven scholarships totaling $34,000 were awarded!
Ellen Hanak, PPIC Water Policy Center Director- April 30th
California officials are grappling with how to respond to California’s epic drought, and so are researchers. PPIC senior fellow Ellen Hanak has been tasked with heading up the public policy think tank’s new Water Policy Center. Hanak started PPIC’s research program on water policy in 2001 and has published numerous reports and articles on California’s water management. Her career has focused on the economics of natural resource management and agricultural development. Before joining PPIC Hanak held positions with the French agricultural research system, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and the World Bank.
The center’s mission includes ensuring clean and reliable water supplies, building healthy ecosystems and responding to an increasingly variable climate. Hanak will explain the five things we all need to know about California water, and why we all have a stake in the drought response.
Ellen Hanak was the speaker at the April 2015 SPC luncheon.
“I Left it on the Mountain: A Memoir” book signing with Kevin Sessums
The Sacramento Press Club held a book signing and no-host happy hour event with author Kevin Sessums for his new memoir “I Left It on the Mountain” on April 20, 2015.
Kevin, a former celebrity reporter for Vanity Fair who now lives in San Francisco, is the current Editor-in-Chief of FourTwoNine magazine. His work has appeared in Elle, Travel + Leisure, Playboy, Out, and Show People. To learn more, read this book review by the San Francisco Chronicle and this New York Times profile piece on Kevin from last summer.