Spotlight Club Events

Dark Money

October 7, 2018
Hosted by The Lodge at Torrey Pines


The Spotlight Club marked its two-year anniversary -- just a month before the midterm elections -- with a provocative discussion of dark money, the secret, unlimited currency that fuels and influences elections. More than 100 club members shared drinks, appetizers and conversation at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, which generously hosted the event. Investigative reporter John S. Adams, who is the star of the PBS documentary Dark Money, came in from Montana, and Sheila Krumholz, one of the nation’s experts in campaign finance, joined us from Washington, D.C., where she heads the Center for Responsive Politics.

Campaign finance is the gateway to any issue you care about, whether it’s education, health, transportation or the environment. That was a theme of the conversation, moderated by inewsource Executive Director and Editor Lorie Hearn. John inspired the crowd with the story of his pursuit of the money that funded vicious flyers that clearly steered the outcome of state elections in Montana. Sheila broke down the maze of campaign finance channels through which hundreds of millions of dollars flow.

Click here for more pictures

First Amendment: From the Pentagon Papers to the Twittersphere

February 10, 2018
e3 Civic High School


The Spotlight Club celebrated the First Amendment with an exciting exchange between federal Judge Margaret McKeown, who shared her insights into court decisions on freedom of speech, and Len Downie Jr., the former executive editor of the Washington Post, who took us into the newsroom and virtually on to the set of the movie, The Post.

The backdrop for the conversation, entitled, “First Amendment: From the Pentagon Papers to the Twittersphere” was the film, The Post, about the court battle over publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. We gathered at e3 Civic High School in the downtown San Diego library.

Quote of the night came from Judge McKeown, who sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

“President Nixon called Daniel Ellsberg a son of a bitch, and he said ‘Ellsberg gets to be a national hero ... and the New York Times and the Washington Post get a Pulitzer prize. So what's the world coming to?’ I would say to President Nixon: Thank God for the Post, thank God for the Times and thank God for citizens like Ellsberg. And that's what the world’s coming to.”

Len, who was an editor at the Post at the time of the Pentagon Papers, was technical adviser for the movie and he delighted with outtakes. One gem: He said: Meryl Streep didn’t engage in small talk on the set because she was always in character as Katharine Graham. Director Steven Spielberg called her Katharine and her chair on the set said Katharine Graham.

Click here for more pictures

Wall Street: Then and Now

September 14, 2017
Hosted by Sandra Timmons and Richard Sandstrom


The Spotlight Club celebrated its first anniversary with a national media headliner: New York Times investigative financial journalist Diana Henriques. She discussed the darkest days on Wall Street, focusing on Black Monday, the worst day for the markets in history. That day, Oct. 19, 1987, is the subject of her newest book, A First-Class Catastrophe. Henriques warned that not much has changed since then.

“I don't know when we're going to have another crash,” she told Spotlight Club members at an exclusive event, “but I do know we are going to have another crisis.”

Diana followed in the impressive Spotlight Club tradition, prompting rich conversation about issues that define our times. You may have seen her (playing herself) in the HBO film, The Wizard of Lies, based on a book she wrote about Bernie Madoff.

Click here for more pictures

Fake News, Alternative Facts

July 18, 2017
Hosted by Martha and Ed Dennis


inewsource staff invited a conversation about "Fake News" – how to tell fact from fiction – at a summer social. The presentation included a fake news quiz for club members.

With the traditional media under attack and the line between news and opinion increasingly blurred, inewsource has taken a lead in promoting independent, fact-based journalism. During this presentation, in the garden of the home of the Dennises, Editor Lorie Hearn and Assistant Director Brad Racino not only exposed skewed news, but also showcased the work of inewsource work for its transparency and trustworthiness.

Click here for more pictures

Pressing Forward: Pursuit of Truth in the 21st Century

February 16, 2017
Hosted by Joan and Irwin Jacobs at Rancho Valencia


The second exclusive Spotlight Club event featured a panel of nationally known journalists, who examined the "Pursuit of Truth in the 21st Century." The need for credible, fact-based journalism was the theme of comments and questions at an the event, which featured Rosalind Helderman, of the Washington Post, Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity and Walter "Robby" Robinson, of the Boston Globe.

Robinson recalled the body of work that ignited the Globe’s Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. But he raised the specter that the investigation might never have happened today.

The investigation of pedophile priests and the church’s deception was sparked by reporting on lawsuits out of the Suffolk County courthouse, he said. Today, Robinson said, the Globe doesn’t cover that courthouse.

Tens of thousands of journalists have lost their jobs or otherwise left the profession over the past two decades, as traditional media has struggled to replace the advertising revenue model that produced double-digit profits before the advent of the internet.

“At every newspaper, every day, there are broken links in a very important chain,” Robinson said.

The panel agreed there are reasons to be hopeful about the future of fact-finding: Since the 2016 election, web traffic at the Washington Post has soared, subscriptions to the New York Times have increased tenfold and journalism nonprofits such as ProPublica report a flood of new donors.

“There’s a new sense that the public understands that there is such a thing as facts,” Helderman said, “and that reporters are the ones that, in a free society, find them out and tell them to the public.”

Click here for more pictures

Spotlight Club Kick-off Event

September 16, 2016
Hosted by The Lodge at Torrey Pines


The Spotlight Club launched with a discussion of investigative journalism and the critical need for it. Walter “Robby” Robinson, who headed the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team during its Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of the Catholic Church, came out from Boston to help celebrate our supporters.

He gave the audience of nearly 100 people a taste of his career in news, from foreign correspondent to White House reporter to editing at the Globe. He found important stories on every beat.

“I think every reporter should be an investigative reporter,” he said. “And nowadays, because of the same internet which has hollowed out our newsroom, we have resources at our fingertips that allow good reporters to really shrink that gray area in every news story where we have he said and he said and we leave it to the reader to figure out where the truth is."

He applauded the work of inewsource, telling the audience,

“I was eager to come out here, and not for the weather by the way. The weather in Massachusetts is still pretty good in September.
I was eager to come out here because inewsource is one of the best investigative nonprofits in the country. I know Lorie from IRE, Investigative Reporters and Editors, which is a national organization, and everybody, when they talk about which cities are doing the best work in this area, inewsource is always on the tip of everybody’s tongue, as it should be.”

Click here for more pictures