Arthur M. “Art” Berman, Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times reporter and editor for more than three decades, died Thursday. He was 61.
Berman, who most recently had served as assistant Calendar editor in a career that included a wide variety of influential editorial positions, died of cancer.
“Art’s career showed his strength, grace and versatility as a journalist over his 34 years at The Times,” said Times Editor Shelby Coffey III. “He brought a special gift for appreciating high-quality journalism and the professional relationships that go with it. He made many lasting friendships working in a broad range of positions at The Times. He has been an important part of the ties that keep a large newsroom together over these many years and he will be much missed.”
A highly respected reporter known for his calm, gentlemanly demeanor amid the clamor of the newsroom, Berman also was considered one of the best rewrite people in the business. It was he who took notes from a staff deployed to the Watts riots in 1965 and quickly transformed them into elegantly readable stories. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for the work the following spring.
Berman also was one of four Times reporters who shared a Pulitzer in 1969 for their series of investigative articles on municipal corruption.
As a reporter, he earned four awards for best local news story of the year from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club. His prizewinning articles included the Pulitzer entries, coverage of a Santa Barbara brush fire and, in 1961, a story about the killer of a policeman who surrendered to Berman.
Among his other awards was one from the State Bar of California for a series of stories he wrote about narcotics.
He joined Times Mirror Co. in 1960 as a 25-year-old reporter for the now-defunct evening paper, the Los Angeles Mirror. Two years later he switched to The Times, where he remained a front-line reporter until 1970.
For the next eight years, he was the assistant city editor in charge of local and state government and political coverage. He served as suburban editor from 1978 to 1983, when he was named editor of the View section (now known as Life & Style). He also worked a stint as an assistant national editor before moving to the Calendar section.
A native of New York City, Berman earned a degree in government at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. As a student there, he met his wife, Elaine, and wrote his first news story--for the Washington Courthouse Record-Herald, a small Ohio paper. He worked for the Pasadena Star-News and the Springfield (Ohio) Daily News in the late 1950s.
In addition to his wife, Berman is survived by three children, Michael, Tonia and Daniel, and five grandchildren.
The Berman family asks that contributions in his memory be made to the Arthur M. Berman Scholarship Fund at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, 5931 W. 18th St., Los Angeles 90035. The fund will finance journalism studies.
Memorial services are pending.