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L.A. Times wins two Pulitzer Prizes and is a finalist for three others

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The Los Angeles Times on Monday won two Pulitzer Prizes, for art critic Christopher Knight’s watchdog coverage of plans for the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and reporter Molly O’Toole’s audio story about U.S. asylum officers’ discontent with President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. The Times was also a finalist in three other categories.

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Christopher Knight, criticism winner
Peter Zumthor’s revised LACMA
Another view of Peter Zumthor’s vision for a revised LACMA building spanning Wilshire Boulevard, with the nearby high-rise providing rental office space for museum staff.
(Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner)

Knight wrote a series of critiques of LACMA as the county prepared to vote on releasing $117.5 million in taxpayer funds to help build a new museum building.

The Pulitzer board recognized Knight for “demonstrating extraordinary community service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution’s mission.”

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More of Knight’s winning work:

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Molly O’Toole, audio winner
Former asylum officer Doug Stephens
Former U.S. asylum officer Doug Stephens, shown at his San Francisco office on Nov. 6, was a subject of Molly O’Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting.
(Josh Edelson / For The Times)

In collaboration with “This American Life” and Emily Green, a freelancer for Vice, O’Toole won the first ever Pulitzer Prize for audio reporting. She investigated one of the Trump administration’s most successful policies to restrict asylum — the so-called Remain in Mexico program. She found that asylum officers were in open revolt against policies they said were immoral and illegal.

The Pulitzer board described “The Out Crowd” as “revelatory, intimate journalism that illuminates the personal impact of the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy.”

More of O’Toole’s immigration coverage:

The order restricts some new entrants but does not include a broad restriction on new green cards as Trump had indicated a day earlier.

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Times Staff, breaking news reporting finalist
Fire on dive boat Conception
The charred remains of the Conception are seen off Santa Cruz Island following a Labor Day fire that killed 34 people on board the dive boat.
(Ventura County Fire Department)

The staff was a finalist for a breaking news Pulitzer for its coverage of the Conception boat fire that killed 34 people off of the coast of California on Labor Day.

The board cited “dynamic coverage that expertly blended multimedia components, frequent updates and rich narrative to report on a devastating California boat fire that killed 34 people.”

More from our Conception coverage:

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Steve Lopez, commentary finalist
An LAPD officer assists investigator Adrian Munoz
An LAPD officer assists as investigator Adrian Munoz, center, of the L.A. County coroner’s office, removes the body of Alvin Robinson near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Lopez was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his columns chronicling Los Angeles’ homeless community.

The board praised Lopez for “purposeful columns about rising homelessness in Los Angeles, which amplified calls for government action to deal with a long-visible public crisis

More from Lopez on L.A.'s homeless community:

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Rosanna Xia, Swetha Kannan and Terry Castleman, explanatory reporting finalist
Track tracks in Del Mar
Encroaching seas eating away at coastal cliffs threaten train tracks in Del Mar.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Xia, Kannan and Castleman were finalists for their special report on how cities along the California coast are dealing with the rising sea levels and for a corresponding game.

The board saluted the team for “a deeply researched examination of the difficult choices Californians must make as climate change erodes precious coastline.”

More from Xia on sea level rise:

As coastal cities in California fight to defend their homes and roads from sea level rise, the small city of Marina is taking a different path, banning seawalls and adopting a policy known as managed retreat.

In Foster City, where the ‘king tide’ over the weekend reached 9 feet, the answer is a taller levee, costing $90 million. The plan comes as legislators warn that California is running out of time to prepare for sea level rise.


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