Frank Suraci, Rob Kuznia and Rebecca Kimitch. Daily Breeze photo: Robert Casillas
Updated a few times during the day
Big SoCal news at the Pulitzer Prize announcement in New York at noon. Two Los Angeles Times writers won Pulitzers — Mary McNamara for her TV criticism and Diana Marcum for feature writing about the drought. That is 43 Pulitzers for the LA Times in its history. Perhaps the bigger local angle is that the Daily Breeze in Torrance won its first-ever Pulitzer, for investigating the Centinela Valley Union High School District and Superintendent Jose Fernandez, who was getting more than a half a million in annual compensation in a district with the lowest test scores in LA County. The prize is in local reporting and cites reporters Rob Kuznia and Rebecca Kimitch and project editor Frank Suraci: "for their inquiry into widespread corruption in a small, cash-strapped school district, including impressive use of the paper’s website." This is the first Pulitzer won by the Los Angeles News Group, which operates the Daily Breeze, Daily News and several other local papers. Here is the Breeze web story.
We should note that Kuznia left the Breeze and journalism last year and is currently a publicist in the communications department of USC Shoah Foundation. I spoke with him this afternoon and he admitted to a twinge of regret at no longer being a journalist, but he said it was too difficult to make ends meet on his newspaper salary while renting in the LA area. Kuznia was one of the reporters who had left the Santa Barbara News Press several years during the whole Wendy McCaw mess up there.
The Breeze team had won the National Headliner Award for Investigative Journalism last week.
Marcum's prize in feature writing for the LA Times cites "her dispatches from California’s Central Valley offering nuanced portraits of lives affected by the state’s drought, bringing an original and empathic perspective to the story." She is the paper's correspondent based in Fresno.
Of McNamara's television pieces in the Times, the judges write she deserves the prize "for savvy criticism that uses shrewdness, humor and an insider’s view to show how both subtle and seismic shifts in the cultural landscape affect television." McNamara had been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for criticism each of the last two years.
The video is of McNamara accepting congratulations in the Times newsroom, introduced by editor Davan Maharaj. Marcum is to Maharaj's other side.
The Times was also a finalist in the breaking news category for its coverage of last year's Isla Vista killing rampage, and in the international reporting category for reporting by Richard Marosi and Don Bartletti "on the squalid conditions and brutal practices inside the multibillion dollar industry that supplies vegetables from Mexican fields to American supermarkets." Former LA Times writer Manohla Dargis was a finalist for the New York Times in criticism, and the late NYT media columnist David Carr was a finalist in commentary.