Two Los Angeles Times Investigations Score National Press Club Honors

Valarie Ianniello, former executive director of the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation.
Valarie Ianniello, former executive director of the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation and whistleblower of the foundation’s CEO/founder who has been accused of staging animal torture videos in Asia in order to raise awareness and gain support for his charity.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Times has won two National Press Club Journalism Awards in the organization’s annual competition. Investigative Reporter Kiera Feldman won the Michael A. Dornheim Award for “Fumed Out,” a year-long investigation revealing 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 phenomenon is happening with “alarming frequency,” according to Feldman’s report.

In addition, Reporters Paul Pringle and Alene Tchekmedyian and Foreign Correspondent David Pierson earned the Ann Cottrell Free Animal Reporting Award for their investigation, “He was a Hollywood darling for fighting dog meat trade. Butchers say he staged killings; he denies it.” The report revealed fraud and shocking animal abuse by celebrity animal protection activist Marc Ching.

As a result of the trio’s reporting, Los Angeles prosecutors charged Ching with a variety of crimes for which he was sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. The Times investigation of Ching and his Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation also triggered an ongoing criminal probe by the California attorney general’s office and an inquiry by the FBI.


“Fumed Out” has been the recipient of several other awards in 2021, including a Gerald Loeb Award and a top honor from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing.

The National Press Club awards were announced on Dec. 8 and honorees will be featured in a virtual program on Jan. 6. See the complete list of winners.