Encouraging serious journalism



Click here for previous winners of the Quinn Award

  • Monday, July 06, 2015 12:16 AM | Anonymous

    Never one to rest on her laurels, Willow Bay accepted a lifetime achievement award with a speech calling on her colleagues to join her in shaping the next generation of journalists.

    Bay, Director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, was presented with The Joseph M Quinn Award by the LA Press Club on June 28.

    "I will take it in the spirit of investing in the future of journalists and journalism," she told the crowd at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel for the 57th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

    Bay advised that, to the extent possible, "You have to choose your bosses wisely. They can be some of your best teachers and lord knows they can shape your career." She pointed to lessons from David Stern, who helped her use the platform of the NBA to fight ignorance about HIV/AIDS, Rick Kaplan, who taught her to "edit a script until it's worthy of primetime," and Arianna Huffington, always driving to experiment and innovate. She continued:

    In the spirit of all the great bosses and all the great teachers that we've known, I want to ask you to help me in guiding this next generation of journalists. They are beginning their careers at what you all know is a wildly transformational moment, where the familiar media of the past -- newspapers and network television -- are losing some of their dominance. New models of gathering and distributing news are proliferating, and along with them, new ways to reach audiences, particularly underserved ones. We want this new generation to be the driving force behind the new landscape of news that's being created right before our eyes. We want them to harness emerging technologies in service of compelling and powerful journalism. We want them to create new business models for a sustainable future. And, perhaps most importantly, we want this next generation to embody the enduring and fundamental values of journalism in service to all.

    In the spirit of Joseph Quinn, who always lent a hand to a journalist in need, and who believed so fervently in the excellence of this industry, join me in reaching out to young journalists in our classrooms ... or in your own newsrooms. They need our help along this journey. They need our help. The future of our industry needs you, your wisdom and your guidance, to help them live up to their potential.

    Bay was introduced by Wallis Annenberg, a philanthropist and well-known patron of journalism and journalism education.

    "The great journalists have always been skeptics and seekers, people with an almost pathological need to dig deeper, to find out for themselves and share it with the world," Annenberg said before rattling off Bay's stellar resume.

    But to me, it's her vision as director of USC Annenberg that really qualifies her for the Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement. She knows that journalism and communications have been disrupted for good, and there's no wringing our hands or turning back. Digital and cross-platform is the future if we don't want to become the past. Willow knows that we need the next generation of skeptics and seekers, the next generation of LA Press Club members, to be the disrupters, not the disrupted. We need them to embrace the newest and most transformative technology so they can inform and enlighten, and, well, just plain do their jobs.

  • Wednesday, July 01, 2015 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Quinn Award Winner Willow Bay’s Incredible Career Has Taken Her to Many Newsrooms, and Now to the Classroom

    By Gretchen Parker McCartney

    Willow Bay, the director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, took a few detours before winding up in her chosen career. After a modeling career and an MBA from New York University, she finally got around to doing what she really wanted to do: reporting.

             Bay got her break on the NBC show “NBA Inside Stuff,” and went on to work for CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC and Bloomberg TV. She has interviewed world leaders, CEOs and the Dalai Lama, and joined the Huffington Post to help expand the reach of that digital news machine.

             Bay is the recipient this year of the Los Angeles Press Club’s Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement. She recently spoke about her varied career.

    Q: Your most recent move was from the newsroom to the classroom. What motived you to run the USC Annenberg School of Journalism?

    A: I can’t imagine a more exciting time to begin a career in journalism. Or a more exciting time to be here on campus, as we settle into Wallis Annenberg Hall, with its state of the art media center. It’s a newsroom, a classroom and an incubator all in one, allowing students to create, publish and promote journalistic content across multiple platforms. Helping students navigate the profound changes reshaping the media business, establishing the technological, ethical and intellectual fundamentals, and preparing them to lead the industry forward—now that’s an interesting job! 

    Q: What made this a good time for the move?

    A: My husband was considering retirement, and it seemed like the perfect time for me to dive headlong into a challenging and time-consuming new job. However, once I decided to take the position, he decided to defer his retirement for a few years. I will say that I have two teenage boys who are not entirely unhappy that their mother is very, very busy when they get home from school.

    Q: Take us through your career.

    A: I wanted to be a reporter from the time I was a kid. An interview for an editorial internship at Seventeen magazine led me to a career in modeling, which paid for college and graduate school. When I was finishing my MBA I knew I didn’t want to work on Wall Street, which was the typical path for NYU Stern grads, but I did want to pursue a career in business.

             I also still really wanted to see if I could be a reporter. So I gave myself a year. I kicked around in some really bad cable jobs, got some decent live broadcasting experience and was ultimately hired by the National Basketball Association to co-host a pioneering new television program that took viewers behind the scenes, introducing them to the lives of players off the court, and allowing us to tell their stories in a personal and significant way. That show was called “Inside Stuff.”

    Q: Back up a little bit. What drew you to journalism?

    A: I was always a strong writer, but I also really liked unearthing new information and sharing people’s stories. Being a reporter was the closest thing I could get to being in school all the time, where you constantly learn and process new information, put it in context and present it.

    Q: You have wound up in places where women were scarce: first sports, then business. What was the environment like when you started covering sports in 1991?

    A: The doors had been opened by a generation of women pioneers who preceded us. In news, Barbara Walters. In sports, Lesley Visser and others. I was part of a generation that earned a place in the newsroom and proved our capabilities on air but did not have to fight our way in. We all owe those women who preceded us an enormous amount of gratitude.

    That said, it wasn’t always pretty. Remember “the money-honey” nickname? Or the fact that Hannah Storm and I became interchangeable in the minds of some, those “girls” who covered the NBA?

             Today, when I consider that the School of Journalism has a majority female student body, it’s clear just how much change we’ve seen in opportunities for women in news. Now it’s my job to help position those young women to lead news organizations of the future.

    Q: How did you fare in business news?

    A: In financial news I was often told that investors—meaning men—didn’t want to get bad financial news from a woman. When my male co-anchor was out on vacation and a woman filled in for him, our senior producers worried that investors wouldn’t like to get their business news from two women sitting side by side at the desk. Turns out, investors didn’t much care.

    Q: What about the attitudes of the executives in sports?

    A: I was really lucky to have worked at the NBA for Commissioner David Stern and then with Adam Silver, and they were incredibly supportive of women. When Stern hired me, he said, “We’re considering you and another woman, and you’re both OK on television, but you have an MBA so we’re going to go with you, because if the TV thing doesn’t work out, we’ll put you to work in the marketing department.”

    Q: How did you make the leap from sports to news?

    A: I knew I didn’t want to be a sportscaster. As much as I loved that show and loved covering the NBA, I really wanted to be in news. So I worked for “Good Morning America” on the weekends.

    When I moved to CNN to co-anchor “CNN & Entertainment Weekly,” I talked myself into a business-news show. They were launching a show based on Fortune magazine, and I said, “Why can’t I do that show?” They said, “You already have a show.” “Well, I’m the only one on the team with an MBA, and I’m a woman, so you know I’m going to work twice as hard. Why can’t I do two shows?” They said OK. That led to “Moneyline.”

    Q: Fast-forward a few years to the Huffington Post. In the midst of all the disruption in the news industry, you headed to purely digital outlet.

    A: It was the moment when Arianna Huffington was planning to expand the Huffington Post from politics and front page to other verticals that included lifestyle and entertainment, business and media. I joined to help her and Ken Lerer manage that expansion on the West Coast.

    Q: What was it like moving into digital?

    A: Growth was off the charts, so managing and keeping up with that growth and then driving it was a significant function of everybody’s job. Our roles and responsibilities changed constantly. It also required working with a small army of 20-somethings.

    Q: Which brings us to Annenberg.

    A: I saw a real opportunity to equip students, not just with the skill set they need, which these days is sizeable, but also with the mindset that’s entrepreneurial and risk-taking. I want to see our graduates not only go out and change the world with their reporting, but also to change the world of journalism. I want to see the future of journalism in the hands of journalists, rather than technologists, who are our partners, or big media companies, who are our funders.

    Q: What is the most important thing for students today to learn?

    A: When I look at a journalism degree and what we teach right now, it equips students to engage with the world around them in a meaningful way. They discover stories, research issues thoroughly, vet that research, contextualize it and present information in a clear, accurate and compelling way. Today, they engage with audiences around those stories. Beyond journalism, that skill set is invaluable. Clear, concise, accurate, effective communicators—every industry needs them.

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014 2:21 PM | Anonymous



    Ann Curry’s recent NBC News project, the digital documentary “Twitter Diplomacy,” was notable not only for the way it explored social media’s role in easing tensions between the U.S. and Iran, but in the behind-the-scenes access she and her team were granted on both sides of the negotiations.

    Curry, the recipient of this year’s Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement, has had a distinguished career trekking to places such as Sudan, Serbia, Haiti and Congo, cap- turing the stories of people swept up in conflict and disaster. At the same time, as in “Twitter Diplomacy,” she has secured challenging interviews with such figures as then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2011; Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, in his first interview with an American news organiza- tion in 2011; and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2007.

    The latter interview which lasted two hours came just as international attention and pressure was increasing on Sudan over the ethnic cleansing in the Darfur region.

    “There is no failsafe way to secure tough interviews, but it does help a great deal if you are seen as fair,” says Curry, NBC News’ national and international correspondent and a “Today” anchor-at-large, via e-mail. “People are generally willing and sometimes, even eager to face hard questions. But they will only talk to you if they feel they can trust you not to misrepresent their answers.”

    Curry interviewed the Dalai Lama three times, and interviewed Pakistan Prime Minis- ter Benazir Bhutto just two months before her assassination in 2007. Her favorite interview, she says, was with Maya Angelou in 2002, in which the author and poet, who recently passed away, said, “It takes courage to be kind.”

    “What she said in our interview was extraordinary and life-changing,” Curry says. “Her wish was simply to illuminate. You felt she had no other agenda. It was a rare thing to sit with such hard-won wisdom.”

    Curry was born to an enlisted Navy man, Bob Curry, and Hiroe Nagase, the daughter of a Japanese rice farmer. They met when Bob was stationed in Japan during the Allied occupation after World War II. Ann was the first of five children, and the family moved often, retired in Ashland, Ore.

    As Curry recounted, her parents faced big challenges in their lives: Her mother survived bombing raids and starvation, and endured racism when she was in the U.S. Her father raised the family on a modest salary, but would tell Ann, “Trials and tribulations make you stronger.”

    Curry attended high school in Ashland and graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism in 1978. She got an internship at KTVL-TV, and later became that station’s first female reporter. She moved on to Portland before landing in Los Angeles in 1984. Working for KCBS-TV, she won Emmys for her coverage of the 1987 Whittier earthquake and another for covering the explosion of a gas pipeline in San Bernardino.

    She joined NBC News in 1990, first as Chicago correspondent and later as anchor of “NBC News at Sunrise.” She became news anchor on “Today” in 1997, serving in that post for 14 years.

    During that period she earned a reputation for reporting from some of the world’s hotspots, including Baghdad in the weeks leading up to the war in Iraq. She has written that she was “drawn to telling stories of people who otherwise might not be heard.” She travelled to Sudan three times from 2006 to 2007 to report on the crisis in Darfur and Chad, focusing on the victims caught up in the conflict. She won an Emmy for her cover- age, but her reports also were recognized for elevating attention to the crisis.

    “Our Darfur reporting resonated because it gave voice to people, particularly women, who had none,” she says. “There was a kind of preciousness in listening to their deeply personal experiences. You felt glued to the TV, because it was hard not to realize how rare and unlikely it was to hear from people who had survived genocide. Perhaps our attention was drawn to the crisis because of the outrage we felt. In Darfur, we saw ourselves.”

    She travelled to the region several more Clooney in 2010 through the southern region of Sudan. In Guideposts magazine, Curry wrote, “Your knowing about what’s happening in the rest of the world gives you a chance to care, and it is that empathy that offers the greatest hope.”

    That is a different outlook in a business often seen as a profession of cynics, but it also highlights the power of the media to make an impact.

  • Sunday, June 24, 2012 11:10 AM | Anonymous

    His Work Makes a Difference, Delighting Viewers with His Undercover Investigations


    IT DOESN’T MATTER IF they’re CalTrans workers guzzling beer on the taxpayers’ dime, cab drivers steal- ing computers mislaid by custom- ers or university officials charging up credit cards to feast on catered meals while the state’s deficit soars, they all insist they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.

    That is until CBS2/KCAL9 award-winning, investigative re- porter David Goldstein offers to show them the videotape taken with a hidden camera, or the documents he’s pried out of some agency with a public records act request. 

    “Everyone always is in denial, 99 percent of the time,” says Goldstein, the 2012 winner of the Joseph M. Quinn Memorial Award given by the Los Angeles Press Club annually to a journalist for excellence in a career.

    Goldstein, who combines the qualities of the cu- rious reporter with the tenacity of a dogged sleuth, has spent nearly a quarter century in Los Angeles uncovering truths that shatter the cleverest decep- tions, spins and outright lies public and appointed officials, as well as businesspeople, health profes- sionals and others, too often inflict upon the public.

    “I don’t know where the detective comes from, but I’ve always been the kind of reporter who likes to dig for stories. I really didn’t like it when, as a general assignment reporter, they’d hand you the newspaper and say, ‘We’re doing this story today.’ To me, that’s not what I liked about reporting. I always wanted to try a different angle, to be inquisi- tive for something more.”

    While he’s caught public officials in all manner of shenanigans, Goldstein more significantly has literally changed the state’s legal landscape as his investigations have forced lawmakers to correct abuses, including new laws to protect women from faulty mammogram machines, neighborhoods from concentra- tions of sex offenders, and kids from the potential of sex offend- ers being hired as Santas.

    His reports on some law en- forcement agencies selling assault rifles or confiscated weapons led to a ban on such sales.

    Goldstein, who helped create KCAL’s Primetime newscast, says he gets tremendous satisfac- tion from a job where he has the chance to make a difference in the world, and where he can in-

    teract with viewers who are delighted that someone is catching public officials and others cheating or scamming the system. He gets deep satisfaction from “ looking out for the average person.”

    That’s the greatest part, hearing from people, hearing from viewers who are outraged ...it’s their taxpayer money,” he says.

    Previously, Goldstein worked at WCBS-TV in New York, and also in Miami and Jacksonville. His stories included coverage of the Persian Gulf War.

    Despite growing up in the suburbs of New York City and the fact his Mom got to watch him on WCBS, Goldstein said the Big Apple wasn’t the place he wanted to live long term to raise a family.

    He landed in Los Angeles just in time for some of the city’s biggest and most defining stories – the O.J. Simpson trial, the Rodney King beating and trial of the accused officers, and the devastating riots that followed.

    His undercover work grew as the size of hidden cameras shrank and the stories got raves from view- ers and racked up awards for the station.

    “It’s an adrenaline rush,” Goldstein says of his time in the field, which can include days of stake- outs, confrontations with angry targets, and stone- walling by managers trying to cover for their em- ployees. “It’s really exciting to break something no one else has, to put someone – an elected or appointed official – on the spot, and to say, ‘Look what we’ve found.’”

    His work has only grown more inventive as his career has progressed. Goldstein gives a shout out to his colleagues and their brainstorming sessions in coming up with great ideas, and to station managers saying they have backed creativity despite the cost and time.

    He went high-tech, for example, in chasing down cabbies suspected of stealing from customers who left their stuff, including phones and com- puters, by accident in the backseat. So Goldstein started leaving tablet computers with tracking de- vices behind in taxis after rides. When one driver said he couldn’t find the tablet, Goldstein was able to track it to his house. Sure enough the cabbie denied stealing the tablet – blaming it on his son.

    The risks of his job are obvious, but the air-tight cases he builds with documents and video footage are probably his best protection against a violent subject. He chuckles at the sensitivity of people to television’s use of hidden cameras noting that with the proliferation of the smart phone, “everyone has a camera.”

    Self-effacing, Goldstein says he doesn’t take himself too seri- ously and puts the influence he’s had on Los Angeles in the per- spective of being “just one (journalist) among many.” While he’s won a half dozen Golden Mike Awards and been nominated for more than 15 Emmys, Goldstein prizes the internal rewards of the job the most.

    The greatest satisfaction is just exposing things that shouldn’t be happening, to get it on the air, to show this isn’t right and to know that perhaps this would not be exposed if not for you.”

    As he continues to crank out exclusives, Goldstein says he’s just very happy to have been able to stay in the investigative jour- nalism ranks for so long when news organizations today often look there to cut costs.

    So what might viewers learn should the hidden camera be flipped and for a change focused on Goldstein’s life? Laughing he replies, “Well I curse a lot.” Damn, that’s it? Turns out, he also likes to play tennis, jog and hang out with his son. 

  • Sunday, June 14, 2009 11:31 AM | Anonymous

    As the Faces at City Hall Changed, Rick Orlov kept

    Decades of Daily News Readers Informed


    When RiCK ORLOV became a news reporter after graduating from Cal State northridge in the 1970s, he expected to have fun in journalism for a couple of years before he got a real job.

    Nearly 40 years later, he’s one of the most respected and well-liked reporters in Los Angeles. He’s covered four mayors and five governors. He’s jetted around the world for a story and dodged libel lawsuits. He’s even negotiated the surrender of a murder suspect.

    Yet the reporters who have worked with Rick know him as a tireless reporter who can file three stories a day and a front-page weekender, and as a generous colleague who can always offer a source and is willing to show City Hall newbies the ropes. Rick graduated from Cal State northridge in 1970 with a political science degree and was hired into Copley newspapers training program, before landing a permanent reporting job at the Alhambra Post-Advocate. He must have shown promise because Rick was city editor by the end of the year. He moved on to the Copley news Service and soon became bureau chief in the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration.

    In between assignments in Cancun and Canada (he was a travel writer too) Rick got his political education through the “Kenny Hahn Way of government.” The veteran politician, then a county supervisor in his 50s, would invite Rick and other reporters to sit in on staff meetings, listen to his calls and otherwise get extraordi- nary access.

    For a 25-year-old reporter, the experience was eyeopening.

    “He treated us as equals. He made us realize how important we were, because they needed us,” Rick said. “But i also realized early on that it’s not me. it’s the paper i represent. Any power or influence I have is from being a newspaper reporter and it’s the newspaper that has the power.

    “I’m just enjoying the ride.”

    In 1977, a friend suggested Rick get a job with the valley news and green Sheet, which was trying to make the leap from community shopper to real newspaper. Rick was hired as an investigative reporter.

    One of his first stories revealed that a Los Angeles Community College district chancellor had gone on vacation and stuck taxpayers with the bill for his dog’s kennel care. The chancellor sued the paper for libel, prompting valley news publisher Scott Schmidt to march into the newsroom and announce a $50 bonus for Rick. it was the newspaper’s first libel lawsuit.

    Over the next few years, Rick helped cover some of L.A.’s biggest stories—the night Stalker and the Hillside Strangler.

    After he had writen about a gruesome murder involving the Israeli Mafia, one of the wanted suspects called Rick, who negotiated a deal with him—a 20-minute interview and then the suspect would surrender to police. LAPD officers on the scene tried to take the suspect right away, so Rick called then-Assistant Chief Daryl Gates, who ordered his cops to back off, saying a deal is a deal. Rick got his interview.

    Having covered enough crime and mayhem and taken a turn as assistant city editor at the daily news, Rick moved to Los Angeles City Hall in 1988 to follow another group of characters.

    It was the era of Mayor Tom Bradley and a
    raucous City Council, with Joel Wachs and Zev Yaroslavsky. On Fridays at 5 p.m., Rick pulled
    out the vodka, beer and chips as his City Hall
    office became the informal gathering place for
    political reporters, Council aides and politicians—even Bradley stopped by a few times. Strictly off the record, the parties were a way to blow off steam and talk politics.

    During that time Rick developed his reputation as a straight-shooter and an even-handed reporter, thanks to his sophisticated political insight and a dead-on B.S. detector. If a new reporter needs to know what is or is not a story in City Hall, Rick is the authority.

    “Rick approaches City Hall with a quasi-mellow, quietly ironic point of view. He knows what’s happening, sees the fraud, the chicanery, the charlatanism— and reports on it,” said John Schwada, a long-time political reporter, now with KTTv Fox 11. “But he has a long view that our politicians will probably always travel in these ruts in the road and that there’s no sense in getting too terribly worked up about it.”

    But, Rick is loved for more than his reporting chops and insight. He is kind and generous with colleagues; re- spectful and trustworthy with sources. Known for keeping confidences, Rick has been a shoulder to cry on and a wide adviser to many.

    “He’s the kind of guy you can talk to, run ideas by,” said Supervisor zev Yaroslavsky.

    “For a political reporter to be around as long as he has and still be universally liked and loved by the people he covers—and still be a good reporter, who is relevant and breaks stories—is truly remarkable.”

    In the newsroom of today, when veteran reporters are leaving the business and the remaining reporters are cranking out multiple stories a day, Rick’s insight is more valuable than ever. His weekly political column is a must- read for those inside City Hall, and he gives Angelenos, on a daily basis, the most thorough coverage of Los Angeles politics.

    While colleagues are fretting over the future of the business, Rick maintains the long view. People told him when he started in newspapers in the 1970s that the business was dying. Maybe that’s why he figured journalism would be a temporary gig.

    “I still feel that way,” Rick said, with a laugh. “Sometimes I think I’ll get to do this for another year and then get a real job.” 

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