A WIN FOR JOURNALISTS: Torrance, CA-based Daily Breeze won a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for "local reporting" for its diligent and sweeping coverage of the excessive salary and perks of former Superintendent Jose Fernandez in the Centinela Valley Union High School District. He was an administrator who got too much and gave back far too little in an impoverished community.
The reporting began in February 2014 when the Daily Breeze reported that Fernandez had taken home $663,000 in salaries and perks the previous year. Fernandez was fired in mid 2014; he's since filed a "wrongful dismissal" suit against the district. The paper continued to chronicle the challenges teachers and others had with Fernandez and in December, published with a roundup brimming with details of how the low-income area is struggling to refocus on the business of educating students.
"We did a good thing for the community, not by winning an award, but by exposing something and shining a light under the rock. We knew we had a guy fleecing the public,” said city editor Frank Suraci, who edited the work of reporters Rob Kuznia and Rebecca Kimitch. The team was also complimented for thoughtful use of the Daily Breeze website to share the reporting.