LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for public service today for its investigation that uncovered hefty salaries being earned by top officials in the city of Bell and led to criminal charges being filed against eight people.
Los Angeles Times photographer Barbara Davidson also won a Pulitzer for feature photography for her series of photos on the victims of violent gang crime.
The paper’s series on the city of Bell began with reporters Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb and expanded to include more than 20 reporters and editors, The Times noted on its website.
According to the paper, the series began with an investigation into the neighboring city of Maywood’s decision to contract with Bell for police and other services.
The investigation revealed that most City Council members and some top officials were being paid exorbitant salaries. Most notably, then-City Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning roughly $800,000 a year.
The resulting uproar led to the filing of criminal charges against Rizzo and seven other Bell officials, including four members of the five-member council who were later recalled. Their cases are still pending.
Revelations about Bell salaries also led to more public disclosure of elected officials’ earnings across the state, with information now readily available on various websites.
The Times’ series was chosen for the Pulitzer over two other finalists–Bloomberg News for stories on exploitation of low-income students by nonprofit colleges, and The New York Times for reports on the dangers of concussions in football and other sports.
Davidson won her Pulitzer over fellow finalists Todd Heisler of The New York Times and Greg Kahn of The Naples Daily News.
The Times has won 41 Pulitzer Prizes since 1942, including six for public service.