Two writers and the city editor for The Daily Breeze, a 63,000-circulation newspaper in Torrance, California, won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reprting on Monday. The writers, Rob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch, and the editor, Frank Suraci, won $10,000 for their reporting of corruption in the Centinela Valley Union High School District.
The Pulitzer Committee cited the trio “For a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise, using any available journalistic tool.”
The Daily Breeze, founded in 1894, has never won a Pulitzer; the small newspaper has only seven local news reporters on the city desk.
But Kuznia and Kimitch investigated administrator compensation records at Centinela Valley Union High School District, finding that district superintendent Jose Fernandez had collected over $663,000 from his position as well as a $910,000 loan at 2% interest from the school district to help him buy an expensive house.
His actions prompted his firing and catalyzed state legislation to prevent excessive compensation. Kuznia found the damning data while covering the education beat, and was later joined by Kimitch; Suraci edited the news as they reported it.
The Los Angeles Times also won two Pulitzers for its coverage of the California drought, and for its cultural criticism.