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LAT Remembers Trailblazing Female Reporter

During a week when the LA Times is being forced to absorb yet another Zell bankruptcy-fueled layoffs hit, the obituary for the paper’s Pulitzer Prize winning female trailblazer Dorothy Townsend feels especially bittersweet. Still, her accomplishments should not be overlooked.

Townsend, who passed away at age 88 on March 5 from cancer, worked for the Times from 1954 to 1986, sharing in a 1966 Pulitzer awarded for coverage of the Watts riots. From Valerie J. Nelson’s obit:

After insisting on being reassigned from “the women’s pages” in early 1964, Townsend became the first female staff writer to cover local news in a city room long populated only by men…

To the female journalists who followed her into the city room beginning in the early 1970s, Townsend was “a pioneer, although she never considered herself such,” said Myrna Oliver, a former Times reporter who joined the local news staff in 1972.

The wonderful obit has many more details about Townsend’s career, including how she was able through lots of perseverance to move from assignments like the “sad saga” of Marineland’s bimbo whale to covering the outbreak of violence in Watts. Read Nelson’s full article here.

[Image courtesy USC Archives]

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