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709 Pulitzer Hall
New York, N.Y. 10027
Attn: Professor Zig Giffler
This letter was written by R.B.Russell who served as the first Reuters correspondent in Los Angeles from 1968-78, then Reuters bureau chief in Washington for 13 years.
Dear Pulitzer Prize judges,
It has been brought to my notice that the little Los Angeles-area free newspaper The Los Cerritos Community News has been proposed for your prestigious prize in the categories of Public Service and Investigative Series.
As the first ever Reuters correspondent appointed to Los Angeles to serve in that post from 1968-78, then Reuters bureau chief in Washington for 13 years and subsequently spending my retirement years in Los Angeles, I feel I have considerable knowledge of Los Angeles newspapering and newspapers.
The sad decline of big city newspapers over the past decade has thrown more and more emphasis on the role of little newspapers and citizens groups for exposing government abuse and nowhere is this put into starker relief than in the case of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Times, once the stern guardian of the public interest in the time of Publisher Otis Chandler, has seen its reporting staff cut by loss of circulation and its managerial and editorial direction undermined first by being acquired by an out of state firm and then passing into bankruptcy from which it is about to emerge to hopefully brighter times.
The Cerritos Community News is a tiny free newspaper in one of the jigsaw of housing tract and shopping mall suburbs to the south of Los Angeles City proper. But it has one significant distinction from other such small suburban newspapers. Its owner. Brian Hews, and chief reporter, Randy Economy, form a hotshot team in investigating government malfeasance.
Recently they exposed what the L.A. District Attorney called ‘the largest and most significant public corruption case in L.A. County history’. This was the alleged corrupt administration of the Los Angeles County Assessor’s office by John Noguez who is now in prison awaiting trial on charges of taking bribes to reduce taxes of large property owners. The Cerritos newspaper raised a red flag about Noguez’s candidacy at the time of his election by saying he was running for office under a wrong name but the Times and everyone else for that matter ignored their disclosure.
The Los Cerritos newspaper and other small organizations which have taken on the challenge of exposing public corruption do so under the constant threat of falling victim to abusive legal and other threatening tactics and for this reason I feel it is appropriate for your Pulitzer Prize committee and committees to recognize the courage and dedication of these little outfits.
It is a fact of life in these present days of falling large newspaper circulations that citizens must rely a great deal more on smaller newspapers like the Los Cerritos Community News to watch over their interests.
I hope that the above will help persuade you to reward the journalistic efforts of this gallant little newspaper.
Yours very truly,
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