Times’ Bell coverage wins Selden Ring Award

The Los Angeles Times’ exposé of exorbitant official salaries and other wrongdoing in the working-class city of Bell has won the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Led by staff writers Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb, The Times’ “Breach of Faith” series is in “the finest tradition of shoe-leather investigative reporting,” the contest judges said.

The newspaper’s coverage, which involved more than two dozen reporters and editors, led to criminal charges against eight current and former officials and the return of millions of dollars in illegal taxes to Bell residents and other legislative efforts aimed at reform.

“I’m particularly happy, having read the Bell stories from their beginning, to honor this work that so richly exemplifies journalism’s highest traditions — beat reporting with a watchdog sensibility and a commitment that doesn’t end until justice is served,” said Geneva Overholser, the director of the journalism school.


The Bell stories previously were honored with a George Polk Award for local reporting and the American Society of News Editors’ distinguished writing award for local accountability reporting.

Investigative work by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Bloomberg News were finalists for the Selden Ring Award, which carries a $35,000 prize.