LOS ANGELES, United States -- The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for exposing a salary scandal in Bell City which led to the indictment of eight people.
The newspaper's series was chosen for the Pulitzer Prize for public service 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.
The series on Bell, a small city with a population of about 38, 000 in suburban Los Angeles, began with reporters Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb and expanded to include more than 20 reporters and editors, the paper noted on its website.
Pulitzer Prize winners Clifford Levy (R) and Ellen Barry, who won the Pulitzer for "International Reporting", pose for a photo in the New York Times newsroom after the announcement was made by Executive Editor Bill Keller in New York April 18, 2011. Levy and Barry won in the international reporting category for putting "a human face on the faltering justice system in Russia, remarkably influencing the discussion inside the country."[Photo/Agencies]
According to the paper, the series began with an investigation into Los Angeles' 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 in Bell City were being paid exorbitant salaries. Most notably, then-City Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning roughly 800,000 dollars a year.
The resulting uproar led to the indictments of Rizzo and seven other Bell officials, past and present, including four members of the five-member council. 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.
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 Times has won 41 Pulitzer Prizes since 1942, including six for public service.
The Pulitzer Prize is regarded as the highest national honor in print journalism, literary achievements, and musical composition in the United States. It is administered by Columbia University in New York City.
Prizes are awarded annually in 21 categories. Winners of the prize for public service get a gold medal and those in the other 20 categories receive a certificate and a 10,000 U.S. dollars award.
The prize was established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian- American journalist and newspaper publisher. The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in 1917.