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Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Vartabedian’

LA Times Sweeps the Times’ Editorial Awards

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Safe to say the LA Times won all their own awards. Cough. This year’s Pulitzers. Cough. Congratulations all!

Joel Rubin
won for beat reporting. Harriet Ryan, Andrew Blankstein, Geoff Boucher, Chris Lee and Ann Powers won for breaking news, the Michael Jackson story specifically.

And the Publisher’s Prize went to Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian for sticking with a Toyota crash story that ended up causing one of the largest auto recalls in history. There’s the real breaking story. Get it? Huh? Breaking.

Complete list and a podcast with Russ Stanton is here.

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LA Gets Snubbed by the Pulitzers

pulitzer.pngWe usually crack jokes about how we know someone who once went to school briefly with someone who used to work for someone who won a Pulitzer in whatever year. This year, it’s not funny. This year LAT’s Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger were finalists for breaking the Toyota story so early that Toyota released the hounds on their reputations as Camrys were still killing people.

It resulted in one of the largest recalls in automotive history and saved an untold number of lives.

Yeah, the Enquirer didn’t win a prize for figuring out John Edwards couldn’t control himself – but the major metro newspaper reporters who figured out Priuses couldn’t either?! Nothing?! Really?!

List of the winners is here.

Previously on FBLA: LAT’s Gum Shoe Journalism and the Toyota Recall

LAT’s Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian Are Finalists for Michael Kelly Award for Toyota Scoop

LAT’s Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian were browbeaten by Toyota’s PR machine (also equipped with faulty breaks) while investigating the large number of accidents in certain models. Eventually the story became unstoppable and it was followed by a huge recall. But the life-saving fixes started with the investigative chops of Bensinger and Vartabedian.

Anyway, they are nominated for the the Michael Kelly award. We predict its the first of many. Congrats!

Release in full:

ATLANTIC MEDIA ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR

2010 MICHAEL KELLY AWARD

Los Angeles Times, ProPublica and New York Times Writers Lauded for Pursuit of Truth in Journalism

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LAT’s Gum Shoe Journalism and the Toyota Recall

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This is a credit where credit is due story. Basically, Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger wrote a piece for the LAT in November last year titled “Runaway Toyota cases ignored.” They reported that there have been 19 deaths and scores of injuries due to Toyotas seeming to accelerate on their own. After it was published Irv Miller VP of Environmental & Public Affairs for Toyota wrote:

Today the Los Angeles Times published an article that wrongly and unfairly attacks Toyota’s integrity and reputation.

While outraged by the Times’ attack, we were not totally surprised. The tone of the article was foreshadowed by the phrasing of a lengthy list of detailed questions that the Times emailed to us recently. The questions were couched in accusatory terms.

Despite the tone, we answered each of the many questions and sent them to the Times. Needless to say, we were disappointed by the article that appeared today, and in particular by the fact that so little of our response to the questions appeared in the article and much of what was used was distorted.

Toyota has a well-earned reputation for integrity and we will vigorously defend it.

Cringe.

As CJR’s Dean Starkman points out the LAT stuck to their guns under fire. Then as NYTPicker points out, NYT suddenly started paying attention to the scoop, never noting the champion of the story was from the other coast and some other newspaper.

The media gets criticized for when they get it wrong, but rarely when they get it right. There’s no hyperbole in saying this investigative (read: expensive) piece saved lives. Great work Vartabedian and Bensinger.

Also, just because the NYT pretends they’re an island with no counterparts, doesn’t mean its true.

Our thanks to our tipster for this story.

Letter About The Editor: Mark Arax Vents

aremenianflag.jpgMark Arax, who got into a bit of trouble with the top brass at the LAT last week for appearing to be biased in coverage about the Armenian genocide, sent this memo to colleagues today, demanding a public apology from Doug Frantz:

[Update: We hear Arax is on the "short list" of reporters who will be "encouraged" to take the buyout. Sources say this memo -- and all the rest of the hubub -- is his way of protecting his job.]

Dear Colleagues,

I am not sure about the timing of writing you. In no way do I want my personal issue to add to the turmoil inside the Times. But as I’ve watched our newspaper respond to my issue over the past several days, I’ve come to conclude that it raises troubling questions that go right to the heart of what we do and how we do it. I know of no other way to explain the matter to you than to proceed straight with logic.

I have been accused by Doug Frantz of having an opinion on the Armenian genocide. “Are you now or have you ever been a believer in the Armenian Genocide?” Of the numerous accusations that Frantz has thrown my way over the past month, this one I am happy to plead guilty to. Yes, I have a stance on the Armenian genocide. I believe it happened. And I am gratified to know that my newspaper believes it happened, as well. So here is the dilemma at hand: What is our obligation when this same newspaper, in stories from Istanbul in 2004 and 2005, begins to contradict its policy on the genocide? What is a reporter to do when members of the Armenian community — judges, politicians, civic leaders — start calling and demanding to know why the newspaper is suddenly throwing qualifiers in front of the word “genocide?”

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