San Diego Press Club Going Strong After 40 Years! 

In the 1890s, news was buzzing around San Diego. About 15 newspapers peppered the region before the San Diego Herald took a foothold in 1891, followed by the Escondido Times-Advocate two years later. As the woman’s suffrage movement made headlines in that era, they were headlines written by women themselves – the San Diego Woman’s Press Club was well established at the end of the 19th century and more than a decade later the Club secured office space near the Prado, once the Panama Exposition had wound down in Balboa Park. By then a dozen more newspapers were rolling off the press, including the Coronado Weekly, the Evening Tribune and the El Cajon Once-A-Week.

A generation later, in the 1930s, a men-only press club was active in San Diego, according to long-time Evening Tribune reporter Jack Gregg. This club had a charter from the State of California and the charter came “with a liquor license.”

Ink and whiskey was a good mix, and when Gregg co-founded San Diego Press Club in 1973 and became its first president, there was little question as to which took precedence. Don Good, in a 2010 article in, quoted Gregg as saying, “We wanted a place to drink.”  Andy Mace, a public relations professional for Pacific Bell, had started a fire under the reporters the year before and was member number one. Gregg was member number two, but within a short time the San Diego Press Club numbered “a couple hundred” members, intent on spilling ink by day and spilling liquor at the Press Room bar by night. Beer was 15 cents.

Reid Carroll was the first radio broadcast journalist to join and has been a board member for 39 years. Gloria Penner, a past president and long-time member of the board of directors, was one of the recipients in 1974, when the first San Diego Press Club Awards were celebrated.

The prestigious awards have never lost their significance and are still a feather in the cap of any writer – whether their product is newspaper, magazine, radio, television news, or the Internet.

Terry Williams, executive director of the Press Club noted that the club crashed along with the economic crash of 2008, and stood at 125 members. Now membership has more than doubled as the Press Club has retooled with job listings, workshops for freelancers, seminars that provide expertise on new media – Facebook, Twitter, e-publishing and creating blog platforms.

Several writers and editors have ridden the waves of change from print editors to website editors to Internet publishers, such as Ron James and former L.A. Times food critic David Nelson’s new online venture, Wine & Dine. Others, like Ron Donoho, have gone from magazine to Internet back to magazine, and his ex-boss Tom Blair, went from columnist to magazine editor back to columnist. Caitlin Rother jumped from newspaper writer to novelist, while keeping her beat in true crime.  Caron Golden has broadened her career from print journalist, to online columnist, to blogger to talk show radio host – and all of the above. Gayle Faulkenthal has had her hand in radio producing, public relations, social media coaching, back to radio personality and now also blogging for the Washington Times.  Others, like Tony Perry of the L.A. Times, have kept their long-time beats and become newspaper legends that continue to bring readers smart, accurate and unbiased facts, in a tradition that is still the best of what journalism offers.

For many in the Press Club, our craft has spanned the days of hot wax, light tables and burned plates to the mysterious “pagination” revolution, paragraph break codes (who knew we were writing in html?) to digital wire stories and photographs to video coverage by smart phone. But even though the delivery systems have changed and will continue to change, news coverage will always require men and women with the courage to ask that hard question that normal people do their best to avoid – “Why?”

Written by Francine Phillips with contributions from the article of David Good  “San Diego Press Club Survives in the Digital World,”, 2010. 

Our Mission

The San Diego Press Club is proud to be one of the largest clubs of its kind in the nation with nearly 400 members in the news communications field. Offering a blend of social and professional growth activities, we seek to foster a community where the relevant professional/social needs of news communications professionals can be met in an environment of integrity and high ethical standards.

Dedicated to:

• Promoting social enjoyment

• Cultivating professional advancement

• Encouraging friendly communication

• Providing all the advantages of a professional club and

• Fostering the ethical standards of professional journalism