San Diego CityBeat Uses Public Records Act to Obtain Internal SPJ Emails

After reporting extensively on the WikiLeaks cables and their local impact, San Diego CityBeat‘s Dave Maass felt a little slighted after the Society of Professional Journalists refused to consider him for a local panel on the topic.

A little while later, this happened:

This matter originated with an exchange between CityBeat’s arts editor Kinsee Morlan and SPJ San Diego organizers over the lack of alt-weekly representation in SPJ’s regional spring conference programming. Conference coordinator and SPJ-SD Vice President Christy Scannell accidentally forwarded Morlan an email containing an internal discussion in which Morlan was called “obnoxious” and there was a snide remark about my previous request to be included on a panel discussing the WikiLeaks controversy.

So, “because I’m a mean-spirited, vindictive jerk bent on retribution,” he writes, Maass submitted a public records request act for all SPJ correspondence originating from the email account of SPJ San Diego board member and regional SPJ director Jodi Cleesattle. Seems like a far-fetched request, but Maass was able to get a hold of 2,100 pages of correspondence because Cleesattle is a lawyer with the California Department of Justice, and used her work email account to conduct her SPJ correspondence.

The results of Maass’ digging are insanely catty, often funny and sometimes quite instructive–like details over the internal battle whether to retire the “Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement,” after the award’s namesake got in trouble for espousing anti-Israel sentiments.

Journalism navel-gazers can’t miss this story. Read it here.

Maass tells FishbowlLA the piece just went up last night, but is already receiving a lot of attention. So what are people saying?

“Emails from people who know me have been encouraging, saying I hit the right tone, but then again, the people know me probably would’ve expected me to be a lot more brutal.”