Mark Sauer's Keynote Speech 1

Longtime San Diego newsman Mark Sauer told corny jokes and recalled ribald stories from his 27 years at U-T San Diego Thursday night, but it was his work at KPBS that led to him and his public broadcasting team being named Journalists of the Year.

Sauer, senior news editor, and his KPBS news team were honored Wednesday at the annual awards banquet of the San Diego chapter of Society of Professional Journalists.

KPBS was cited for breaking news of former Mayor Bob Filner’s sex harassment scandal and staying ahead of San Diego media with a succession of scoops — female victims coming forward to tell their stories.

KPBS senior news editor Mark Sauer at San Diego SPJ awards dinner. Photo via YouTube

Former Councilwoman Donna Frye, a key source, was in the audience along with several of the harassment victims.

KPBS News Director Suzanne Marmion told a 150-member audience at the Bali Hai Resort on Shelter Island that the women came to KPBS because they thought the station would report their stories fairly and without sensationalism.

“Mark Sauer and the KPBS staff were the clear winners following a robust discussion about the biggest news stories and the best journalism of the past year,” said a San Diego SPJ spokesman.

“The board selected Sauer and his team because theirs was truly a group effort under his leadership. The KPBS team broke the biggest San Diego story of the year and continued breaking developments for weeks, fully earning our top SPJ award. .. [U-T San Diego’s] Matt Hall moved that we give it to Mark Sauer and KPBS staff, Chuck Westerheide seconded it, and Claire Trageser recused herself because she works at KPBS.”

The vote was unanimous with all board members present, the spokesman said.

Besides that top honor, KPBS reporters and contributors won 27 awards at the annual awards dinner, including a dozen first-place plaques.

U-T San Diego reporters and contributors won 20 first-place awards and 18 other prizes.

Times of San Diego contributing editor Ken Stone won seven awards, including three first-place plaques for headline portfolios for his work at the Patch network of hyperlocal news sites.

Among college media, the Southwestern College Sun advised by Professor Max Branscomb won 29 awards, including 12 firsts, plus $900 scholarships for David McVicker (for photo work) and Lina Chankar (for print work). Monica Linzmeier of The Daily Aztec won for video.

That prompted Sauer to say: “This is my notice. I’m going to work for the Southwestern Sun staff.”