A team of reporters from the Los Angeles Times, reporting on the tiny town of Bell and its corrupt leadership, has taken home virtually every big award given out in journalism, including a Pulitzer.
Reporter Jeff Gottlieb, who worked the story with Ruben Vives, recounted the story's genesis:
Gottlieb, 57, recounted the moment he and Vives discovered Rizzo's inflated salary. They were sitting in a community room in Bell's Little Bear Park, with Rizzo and nine other Bell officials.
"I said to Rizzo, 'So how much money do you make?' And he coughed out, '$700,000.' And I wasn't sure I heard him right, and I said, 'How much?' And he said, '$700,000.' And Ruben goes, 'Jesus Christ!' "
Vives, 32, who has been a reporter for three years, added: "At a time when people say that newspapers are dying, this is a day that I think we can say, no not really. I mean, we gave a small town … the opportunity to speak out. And that's what newspapers do."
Amen. An editor proudly went on to hail the team's "gang-tackling" tactics, which he said the Times does better than anyone else. Maybe so!
It's good to read of signs of life at the paper, and interesting to learn that the web version is more tabloid-y than the print version, via this story in GOOD. In that story, the great automotive writer Dan Neil, who also has a Pulitzer, had an idea on how to make the paper work today:
For Dan Neil, going nonprofit is the only answer. The logic is simple: If the need to make a profit is gone, so is the pressure to publish crap. “It has to be put on a philanthropic/foundation footing,” Neil says of the Times. “There’s plenty of ad money around to do the critical work of journalism, but not enough to do that and line the pockets of swine like [former owner Sam] Zell.”
Makes sense to me. For more of the super-quotable Neil, check out my "Back to the Future, Again!" story on electric cars in the VC Reporter.