CSUN Alumnus Wins Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism

Paul Pringle's portrait

Paul Pringle, an investigative journalist at the Los Angeles Times. Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

Over the course of his career, Los Angeles Times reporter Paul Pringle won numerous recognitions and awards for his work. This month, the California State University, Northridge alumnus received his field’s most prestigious award: the Pulitzer Prize.

A Pulitzer finalist in 2009 and a member of reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 2004 and 2011, Pringle ’78 (Political Science and Journalism) also won the prestigious George Polk Award in 2008. For good measure, the Society of Professional Journalists of Greater Los Angeles, Harvard University, the University of Florida and the California Newspaper Publishers Association have all honored Pringle for his investigative journalism.

In the 1970s, Pringle enrolled at CSUN to study political science, and he added a journalism major later in his university career. He also worked at The Daily Sundial student newspaper during his senior year. Pringle returned to CSUN as a journalism instructor in 1986 and taught for 14 years.

“As a student, I had good teachers and gained a lot of hands-on training,” Pringle said. “I liked teaching, helping students and encouraging them to get into this business. A lot of my students went out and did very well, not just in journalism but in other fields too. It’s very gratifying.”

He spent more than half of his career as a bureau chief and general assignment writer. He started working at the Los Angeles Times in 2001 and has been there for 18 years. Starting off at a small newspaper helped build his writing skills because he worked on several stories a day about a variety of topics, Pringle said. He continues to work in investigative journalism because of its importance, he noted.

“It’s very challenging. As our industry shrinks, that critical element of investigative journalism, to be a watchdog, has become more important,” Pringle said. “We’re seeing some growth in it after many years. I shifted into it full time because of the need. It’s important that we maintain a very rigorous investigative function of the paper.

Pringle, Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton were awarded the Pulitzer on April 15 for their series of articles in the L.A. Times that uncovered a scandal at the University of Southern California’s health clinic.

While it’s common for newsrooms to celebrate with champagne and cheers, Pringle’s initial reaction, which was caught on video, appeared humble, and his focus still seems to be on the impact of the work.

“It was a very important story about women who have been victimized for many years,” Pringle said.

He encouraged students to continue pursuing journalism in all fields, not just investigative. The work journalists do is beneficial to society in the long run, he said.

“You might not get rich, but it’s certainly gratifying,” Pringle said. “Quality journalism and holding institutions accountable is never going to be unimportant.”

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