OC photographer Richard Koehler dies at 82

Photojournalist Richard Koehler died at home surrounded by his family on Oct. 12, Costa Mesa police said in a Facebook post. He was 82.
Koehler was a breaking news photographer since the early 1970s, freelancing for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times and AP.
He was often the first news photographer at crashes and crime scenes in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach, day or night. He attended high school in Newport Beach and graduated from Orange Coast College.
The Orange County Press Club Board of Directors is mourning our long-time colleague Koehler who worked tirelessly to get the “scoop.” He was a frequent recipient of OC Press Club awards, including the 2022 Best News Photo for his image of a fatal crash in Newport Beach.

Newport Beach Police Department traffic officers (MAIT) investigates fatal solo vehicle into building at 6904 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach Saturday evening, January 23, 2021. Photo by Richard Koehler, Contributing Photographer

OC Press Club Adds 5 New Board Members

The 2023-24 Orange County Press Club Board of Directors is thrilled to welcome five impressive newcomers. We deeply thank them for answering the call to serve on behalf of Orange County’s press corps.

They will join returning board members Daniel Langhorne, Brandon Pho, Patty Marsters, Caitlin Antonios, David N. Young and Kathy Hobstetter.

Lastly, the Board is extremely grateful for our departing members’ years of service. Hannah Fry had served since 2017, Sonya Quick joined in 2020, and Shawn Raymundo first ran in 2021.

A Special Note to Members on Orange Unified School District Board Meeting

Dear Members,

The Orange County Press Club Board of Directors is following claims that private security guards hired by the Orange Unified School District attempted to corral Voice of OC, Southern California News Group and freelance photographers into a press pen during a public meeting on Sept. 7.

After speaking with two photojournalists who were harassed in the course of their work, the Board feels it prudent to remind our members that state and federal case law is on their side in these types of situations involving a “designated press area” at public proceedings. We believe arming reporters and photographers with information about their rights is the best defense against this bad behavior.

From the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press: Cal. Gov’t Code § 54950 As stated by one court, “it is clearly the public policy of this State that the proceedings of public agencies, and the conduct of the public’s business, shall take place at open meetings, and that the deliberative process by which decisions related to the public’s business shall be conducted in full view of the public.”

Journalists are and should be treated just like members of the public. Sequestering people based on their occupation is a slippery slope.

The Board has discussed next steps to educate OUSD officials and the public that we will not tolerate further infringement of press freedoms in Orange County.

Best Regards,

The 2022-23 Orange County Press Club Board of Directors

OC Press Club Seeks 2023-24 Board Candidates

Dear Members,

It’s election season, and an opportunity to bring your voice to the Orange County Press Club Board of Directors.

Voting will happen in the last week of September, but starting now you can add your name as a candidate.

Candidates are asked to email [email protected] with their name, employer/news organization, a short bio and candidate statement (laying out your ideas, values, or anything you think might connect with voters) by Sept. 22.

All candidates must be current on membership dues: $25 for journalists and $50 for PR professionals/non-journalists.

On top of planning the Press Club’s annual awards gala, board members also host networking and informational events throughout the year for members. The volunteer board works alongside groups throughout California to advocate for press freedom and other issues important to journalists in Orange County. The Board also stewards the next generation of journalists by sponsoring scholarships and fellowships for high school and college students.

The Press Club is looking for journalists from across a variety of mediums, publications and backgrounds to help further this mission. Freelancers and journalism educators are welcome to enter.

Please send any questions about the process to [email protected].

Best Regards,

Brandon Pho
Vice President, 2022-23 Orange County Press Club Board of Directors

OC Press Club Mourns Beloved Photographer

Former Orange County Register staff photographer Bill Alkofer died in St. Paul, Minn., after a years-long fight with ALS on June 23.

Theresa Walker, a retired Register staff writer, shared the news about Alkofer on a Facebook group of the newspaper’s alumni. Her post has turned into a memorial with dozens of comments from Alkofer’s colleagues.

“Mindy Schauer and I visited Bill this past week at the assisted living center in St. Paul where he had been living. We reminisced, we laughed, we cursed, we talked about death, we drank several of the beers (Grain Belt) in Bill’s fridge and even got him to take a few sips with a straw,” Walker wrote.

Alkofer was born and raised in North Dakota. He received a degree in journalism from the University of North Dakota in 1985. Alkofer worked for 40 years as a photojournalist, including stints at Pioneer Press and the Register. He photographed popes, presidents and kings, two Olympics, a Super Bowl, a World Series and four Final Fours.

The Orange County Press Club Board of Directors extends its sincere condolences to his devoted family and friends. He was a consummate professional who went above and beyond to make the best photo possible.

Details about a memorial service haven’t been announced.

Bill Alkofer at his October 2021 “awake wake” with Mindy Schauer, Alma Fausto, Ian Wheeler, Jeff Gritchen and Greg Mellen in Minneapolis. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Gritchen)

OC Press Club Names Journalist Fred Swegles as 2023 Sky Dunlap Award Recipient

The Orange County Press Club Board of Directors is honored to posthumously recognize Fred Swegles with the 2023 Sky Dunlap Award at the 2023 Excellence in Journalism Awards at 6 p.m. on June 15 at Anaheim Hills Golf Course.

The Press Club’s highest honor will be announced in conjunction with our “In Memorium” presentation of recently deceased journalists, which also includes nationally-recognized baseball writer Jean Hastings Ardell and Los Angeles Times reporter Greg Yee.

A longtime Orange County newsman who spent his career covering San Clemente and its neighboring towns, Swegles died on Oct. 23, 2022, after suffering health complications because of a brain tumor. He was 74.

Swegles’ portfolio of work spanned more than 50 years, having previously reported for the Daily Sun-Post and Orange County Register. In 2018, Swegles launched his CoastLines column with San Clemente Times.

“Fred Swegles is an institution in Orange County journalism. His tireless efforts over five decades to cover his beloved hometown of San Clemente are a testament to the impact one journalist can have on their readers. Our board’s decision to honor Fred was unanimous and we sincerely wish it had arrived before his passing,” said Daniel Langhorne, president of Orange County Press Club.

The Sky Dunlap Award is given out at the Press Club’s annual awards gala and honors someone for lifetime achievement and community service in Orange County journalism. It is named for John William “Sky” Dunlap, 1912-68, who owned and published the Globe, an independent newspaper.

OC Press Club Joins Coalition’s Response to City of LA Lawsuit Filed Against Reporter

The following joint statement was released on April 7, 2023.

The Los Angeles Journalists Coalition opposes a lawsuit by the City of Los Angeles against journalist Ben Camacho and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. The lawsuit seeks to ban further publication of documents the City itself released and which have already been distributed to the public.

The City’s sweeping demand for censorship defies logic as well as the First Amendment. The City Attorney’s additional threat of law enforcement seizure sends a chilling warning to any journalist or individual who would lawfully use the Public Records Act to learn about their own government.

By now, members of the public and other news organizations have seen and likely downloaded these images. The City’s demanded injunction against Camacho and a grassroots advocacy group would punish both with silence while others would retain the full power to continue to publish and disseminate these images.

If the City is truly seeking to protect the undercover police officers whose identities it released, the City is now only drawing even more attention to those officers’ identities through its aggressive and unreasonable encroachment on press freedoms. Further pursuit of this ill-considered lawsuit can only do more harm than good.

Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles
CCNMA Latino Journalists of California
Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists
IWW Freelance Journalists Union
Los Angeles Press Club
Media Guild of the West, The NewsGuild-CWA Local 39213
National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
National Press Photographers Association
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Los Angeles Chapter
Ismael Parra, as chair of the National Writers Union, SoCal Chapter
Online News Association Los Angeles
Orange County Press Club
Radio Television Digital News Association
Society of Professional Journalists

OC Press Club Board Adds 2 Members

Orange County Press Club members have elected two new board members in addition to re-electing the vast majority of the Board of Directors.

Caitlin Antonios, dining reporter for the Southern California News Group, and Jeremy Shermak, journalism instructor and faculty adviser to Coast Report at Orange Coast College, have joined following the election.

“Caitlin and Jeremy are exceptional additions to the Board of Directors,” Board President Daniel Langhorne said. “Their unique experiences will help us amplify the voices of Orange County journalists and continue defending a free press.”

Re-elected to the board are:

Hannah Fry

Kathy Hobstetter

Daniel Langhorne

Patty Marsters

Brandon Pho

Sonya Quick

Shawn Raymundo

David N. Young

OC Press Club Opens Voting for 2022-23 Board of Directors

The Orange County Press Club named a slate of highly-qualified candidates to serve on its 2022-23 Board of Directors on November 14.

OC Press Club members are invited to cast their votes for candidates until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 18. Click here to access the ballot.

The Board of Directors would like to thank departing board members Benjamin Brazil and Bradley Zint for their leadership and dedication to the region’s journalism community.

OC Press Club joins journalists standing with Alene Tchekmedyian

The following statement is from more than a dozen organizations representing thousands of working journalists and First Amendment advocates. Orange County Press Club’s Board of Directors agreed to join our colleagues in standing up for a free press.

Journalism is not a crime. Our community of journalism associations, media unions and First Amendment advocates stands in solidarity with Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian and all journalists who are threatened or harassed by law enforcement.

Today, the Los Angeles County Sheriff suggested that Alene is a subject in a criminal investigation into a leaked video showing a deputy kneeling on an inmate’s head. In recent weeks, Alene has reported on claims alleging that the Sheriff obstructed justice and retaliated against whistleblowers who raised concerns about the incident. This escalation comes after a years-long history of the Sheriff harshly criticizing many local journalists just for doing their jobs, including Cerise Castle, Josie Huang, Maya Lau and others.

For over 50 years, the Supreme Court has upheld the First Amendment right to publish information of public concern received by members of the press or public. For the Sheriff to suggest otherwise is an unconscionable attempt to deter the press from exercising its long-established right to report on abuses of power.

We condemn these outrageous attacks on newsgathering, and we remain committed to supporting journalism that reports on the facts without fear or favor.

Media Guild of the West, The NewsGuild-CWA Local 39213

Los Angeles Times Guild

Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

First Amendment Coalition

Radio Television Digital News Association

Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles

Online News Association Los Angeles

CCNMA Latino Journalists of California

Los Angeles Press Club

National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles

National Association of Hispanic Journalists

National Press Photographers Association

Open Vallejo / Informed California Foundation


SPJ San Diego

SPJ Northern California

ACLU of Southern California

Susan E. Seager, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law, Press Freedom clinic at the University of California, Irvine School of Law

Orange County Press Club

Californians Aware

Media Alliance