Applications now open for 2015-16 scholarships

Pink piggy bank with glasses standing on books next to a blackboard with simple college savings or fees formula.

Pink piggy bank with glasses standing on books next to a blackboard with simple college savings or fees formula.

Each year, the Kern Press Club gives up to four $1,000 scholarships to college students with a connection to Kern County who are attaining communications or media-related degrees. The scholarship selection committee will give first consideration to applicants who meet the following criteria and include all of the required supporting materials by the deadline, Nov. 30, 2015.

Scholarships will be based on (1) academic achievement and ability as demonstrated in work samples; (2) grade point average; (3) and financial need.

Download the application by clicking on this link.

Applications are due by Nov. 30, 2015. Applications may be mailed to the Kern Press Club at the above address or emailed to

If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Burger, president of the Kern Press Club, at (Note: Jennifer Burger, professor of journalism at CSU Bakersfield, does not participate in judging scholarship winners.)


Steve E. Swenson: Jan. 3, 1949- Jan. 1, 2015

Steve E. Swenson

Steve E. Swenson, photographed by his son Todd E. Swenson on Aug. 11, 2014.

Longtime newsman and two-time president of the Kern Press Club, Steve E. Swenson, died at home Thursday, leaving behind a legacy of always-fair reporting and a deep love for the craft of not only journalism but also of living life to its fullest. It is with great honor that the Kern Press Club accepts Steve’s wishes for donations in lieu of flowers to be made to the Steve Swenson Journalism Scholarship fund.

The fund was started in August 2014 when the Kern Press Club honored Steve with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In his 33-year career as a reporter for The Bakersfield Californian (and 40 years in all), Steve covered mostly cops and courts. It’s the kind of beat that requires a thick skin. However it was Steve’s soft shell – his ability to empathize and connect with people – that enabled him to share countless stories of humankind.

Although Steve experienced a huge transformation of the media industry during his career – from typewriters to social media reporting – he believed strongly in maintaining the integrity on which modern journalistic ethics are based. In this vein, he supported the mission of the Kern Press Club, to support the professional relationships and recognition of local media representatives and the development of young journalists through the scholarship program.

The Kern Press Club wishes for peace and comfort for Steve’s wife Mary, his children Todd and Kara, his step-daughter Lori, and all of his family, friends, colleagues and sources whose lives he touched. We are honored to continue his legacy by awarding the annual Steve Swenson Journalism Scholarship to college students studying journalism. We will be awarding the first one this spring.

Read and watch these tributes online:

Obituary in The Bakersfield Californian

Article in The Bakersfield Californian

Story on KGET Channel 17

Story on KERO Channel 23

Post on John Harte’s blog

In his own words: Oct. 18, 2014 article in The Bakersfield Californian
STEVE E. SWENSON: I’m ‘going to go out’ happy, grateful and comforted

Steve E. Swenson receives Kern Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award

Steve E. Swenson. Photographed by Alex Horvath, The Bakersfield Californian.

Steve E. Swenson. Photographed by Alex Horvath, The Bakersfield Californian.

On Aug. 22, 2014, the Kern Press Club honored Steve E. Swenson with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The following is a slightly longer version of the bio that ran in the program.

Steve Swenson, 65, graduated in 1971 from San Jose State. He spent 40 years as a newspaper reporter, having decided early on never to become an editor. “I always wanted to be where the action was, not behind a desk,” he said.

Before coming to The Bakersfield Californian in 1978, he worked at the Fremont Argus, the San Rafael Independent Journal, The Fairfield Daily Republic, The Valley and Contra Costa Times, and the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune.

For most of the 33 years in Bakersfield before retiring in 2011, he covered “crime, gore, human misery, tragedy and smut. Put another way, that’s the police, courts and fire agencies.”

For a short time he also covered banking, real estate and agriculture, as well as blogged for

Swenson was known for helping other reporters from TV and radio understand the intricacies of the court system. “I believed if we all got the process right, it added to the credibility of the news media,” he said.

He also pursued public access to records and court hearings. According to him, the newspaper hired lawyers to help him 22 times, more than any other reporter.

Swenson covered one or more aspects of every major crime story that occurred during his tenure – Offord Rollins IV, Vincent Brothers, Alan Klein, David Keith Rogers, Joseph Danks, Christopher Lightsey, to name a few. He and partner Rob Walters won the State Bar Golden Quill for exposing an attorney who grossly overcharged the court system. Swenson also won numerous Kern Press Club Awards, mostly for breaking news.

Swenson has been an avid supporter of the Kern Press Club, serving as president in 1982-83 and 1988-89. During his time on the board, they created the popular Media Roast. He was also president of the Bakersfield Newspaper Guild for 16 years, the longest tenure in the 68-year history of the union.

Swenson was known for talking to people in their worst moments – after they lost a loved one in a crime or accident, lost their home in a fire, or suffered a devastating conviction or civil judgment.

“I approached them human being to human being, acknowledging how they were feeling at that moment and freely giving them the option not to talk to me,” he said. “I spent my entire career treating everyone as a source. I wanted people to feel they could be my friend and I would treat them accurately and fairly. My goal was to report the truth in the proper perspective.”

Many of Swenson’s best stories were not printed. They were about how he got his information – bygently talking to a mother who lost a child, giving a couple who lost their house to a fire a chance to compose themselves before approaching them, or befriending heroin users in a ghetto house to enlist their support to interview the father of a murdered prostitute.

“I had fun almost every day in my career because I set out to do so,” he said. “I enjoyed the relationships and trust I built up with my sources, including judges, lawyers, investigators, clerks, criminals and people in all walks of life. I enjoyed pursuing the news wherever it was, at the home of a wealthy person or deep in the heart of gang territory.”

Menu for Aug. 22 Summer Celebration

FriedWontonWe have finalized the menu for Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar, 1534 19th Street, Bakersfield, for our Summer Celebration on Aug. 22. Appetizers will be served at the tables; salad and entrees will be served buffet-style. Non-alcoholic drinks are included, and guests will have the opportunity to purchase beer and wine separately. The total cost is $35 per person and includes tax and tip.

Here is the lineup:

Appetizers: Avocado Wontons, Garlic Edamame, Crab Rangoon

Salad: Mixed Greens with Red Cabbage and Carrots, Choice of House Miso or Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing

Entrees: Drunken Noodle Chicken, Pineapple Fried Rice, Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry, Mixed Vegetables, Steamed White/Brown Jasmine Rice

Steve Swenson to receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Hello members and friends of the Kern Press Club! Mark your calendars for the Summer Celebration on Aug. 22, 2014, when we will honor veteran crime reporter Steve Swenson with the annual Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as accept donations for the Steve Swenson Journalism Scholarship Fund. Steve retired in 2011 from The Bakersfield Californian, after 33 years upholding the virtues and ethics of a dedicated journalist. See the attached flier for details – hope to see you there! (If you are mailing a check, please send it by Aug. 18 to Kern Press Club, P.O. Box 1333, Bakersfield, CA 93302.)

kpc flier3

We’d like your feedback!

The board of the Kern Press Club is looking to make changes to its annual awards contest and banquet. Please share your feedback on the following 10 questions so that we can fully consider the needs and desires of our membership. If you are a newsroom leader or have contacts in the local PR field, please feel free to forward this survey to folks who may be new to Kern County media or unfamiliar with the Kern Press Club. We’d appreciate as much feedback as possible, from club members and potential members. Please answer this survey by WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2014.

Thank you!

Here is the link the survey:


Awards Banquet




The Kern Press Club Awards Banquet will be 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 14 at Narducci’s Cafe, 622 E 21st St., Bakersfield, CA 93305.

Ticket prices are $35 for members, $40 for non-members if paid by June 7. You can pay at the door, but prices go up to $40 and $45. You may be thinking that that’s a lot for dinner, but just take a minute to read over the Narducci’s menu:


• Choice of entree: Tri-tip, or chicken breast with creamy garlic sauce.
• PLUS, the whole Basque set-up: Bread, soup, salad, beans, pasta, fries, and pickled tongue.
• Spumoni for desert, and red wine on the table. Cocktails and other beverages will be available for purchase at the bar.

So come join us at Narducci’s on June 14 for good food, great company, and to honor excellence in Kern County media.

Use the handy-dandy PayPal link on the right side of our site to pay for your tickets and reserve your spot today!

And remember, proceeds go to fund the scholarships we award to local students each year!