Southern California News Group photo editor Dean Musgrove has crisscrossed Southern California for nearly 50 years to document everyday life, events and disasters whether he is capturing images of wildfires, rallies, or earthquake damage — or flying his drone above Dodger Stadium as lines of cars wind their way around the parking lot so that people could get the Covid-19 vaccine.
On Wednesday, Oct. 25, Musgrove was one of several journalists honored by the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at its 47th annual Distinguished Journalist Awards and banquet.
Over his distinguished career, Musgrove and his camera have witnessed some of the most stirring and troubling moments in the region’s history. He shot events at the 1984 Olympics, the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II, the devastating Northridge earthquake and the Los Angeles riots.
He has also worked nearly every Rose Parade since 1977.
Musgrove earned his bachelor’s degree in photojournalism at Cal State Long Beach and went to work for the Pasadena Star-News. He later became staff photographer and assistant photo editor at L.A.’s Herald Examiner, once a major daily newspaper that ceased publication in the late 1980s after 86 years in operation.
In 1989, Dean joined the Los Angeles Daily News where he continued to capture news images with his camera and later became a licensed drone operator.
Musgrove stepped on the stage at the SPJ event after being introduced by Janice Musgrove, his wife of 45 years, as his two daughters Katherine and Kelly captured him on cellphones. Janice Musgrove described their first date at a restaurant to which he brought his Nikon Nikkormat camera, to assure he wouldn’t miss a good photo op.
Musgrove told the Society of Professional Journalists about the early years when he used manual exposure, 35 mm cameras and darkrooms — and Thomas Guides that were eventually replaced by GPS.
He cited some of the region’s most pressing problems that he documented with his cameras, including homelessness and corruption scandals at Los Angeles City Hall.
“Maybe I’m not so lucky — not enough has changed for the better,” he told the SPJ crowd to somber nods and laughter. “The time spent commuting from home to an office, or to an assignment, has more than doubled since. And City Hall still has rascals to be dealt with.”
Other honorees at the annual event in Downtown Los Angeles were Patt Morrison, columnist, Los Angeles Times; Gwen Muranaka, senior editor, The Rafu Shimpo; Michaela Pereira, freelance journalist and TV host; Ben Camacho, photographer and journalist, Knock LA; and Paul Glickman, senior editor, KPCC. Outstanding students honored were Jackson Tammariello, Santa Monica College; and Alexandra Najera, California State University, Northridge.