L.A. Times’ ‘Fumed Out’ Investigation Wins Loeb Award

Investigation Reporter Kiera Feldman received the Loeb Award for an investigative into fume events.
Investigative Reporter Kiera Feldman received the Loeb Award for a report into fume events.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Times has won a Gerald Loeb Award for Fumed Out, a special report by Kiera Feldman.

Feldman’s investigation, which won in the Explanatory category, revealed how mechanical problems on airplanes can cause heated jet engine oil to leak into the air supply — a phenomenon known as “fume events” — and sicken passengers and crew members.

The award was presented in a virtual ceremony on Sept. 30 by the UCLA Anderson School of Management. The Loeb awards recognize the work of journalists whose contributions illuminate the worlds of business, finance and the economy for readers and viewers worldwide.


“When Kiera digs, she digs deep,” said Jack Leonard, Times senior editor for investigations. “She becomes an expert at the subject she is covering. And she is fantastic at doing what all should be doing in journalism — putting people first. Her stories capture the humanity of people, particularly the most vulnerable. In the case of ‘Fumed Out,’ those people were airline workers.”

“When I started to look into things, I was struck by how little attention the issue had gotten,” Feldman said. “How was it that such a fundamental problem of air travel had escaped broader public scrutiny?”

Feldman says it was a major challenge to strike the right balance in her storytelling. “It had to be explanatory without feeling like it was too spinach-y to read,” she said. “The story had to cover tons of ground in a relatively short space: capturing the drama and danger of these fume events, explaining the implications for the traveling public, conveying all of the new findings of the Times investigation, and laying out exactly what the industry and regulators had known for years.”

Watch an interview with Feldman on “L.A. Times Today” and read more about how she reported the story.

The Times had three other finalists in the Loeb Awards competition:

Beat Reporting
Sammy Roth, “Confronting Climate Change in California”

Michael Hiltzik, “An Unequal Economy”

Kim Christensen and Ben Poston, “Dying for Dollars”

See the complete list of Loeb Award winners and finalists on the UCLA Anderson School of Management website.