Monday, April 20, 2009
L.A. Times wins Pulitzer for wildfires series
Los Angeles Times reporters Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart have won a Pulitzer Prize for their series of stories on how brush fires are fought. The series found that a century after the government declared war on wildfire, fire is gaining the upper hand. Wildland blazes are growing bigger, fiercer and harder to put out. Firefighting costs are rising, too, and much of the money is going to private contractors. The story also looked at so-called " CNN drops". Fire commanders are often pressured to order firefighting planes and helicopters into action even when they won't do any good. The reason: Aerial drops of water and retardant make good television. Boxall and Cart credited Times Deputy Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin with helping shape the series. "Hooray for the L.A. Times. It was great that we were given the amount of time to report something that is so important to our readers," Cart said. Times Editor Russ Stanton said the paper is committed to continuing this type of long-project journalism. In addition, Times reporter Paul Pringle was a finalist for his coverage of questionable union practices. And Carolyn Cole was a finalist for her on-the-spot coverage of political violence in Kenya.