Former Tico Times reporter Rebecca Kimitch won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting as part of a three-person team at The Daily Breeze of Torrance, California for their investigation of a local school superintendent’s excessive salary and perks.
The award citation praises Kimitch, fellow reporter Rob Kuznia and editor Frank Suraci for “their inquiry into widespread corruption in a small, cash-strapped school district, including impressive use of the paper’s website.”
The series revealed that while the school district led by then-Superintendent Jose Fernandez was made up of only four schools and 6,600 students, Fernandez’s total compensation reached an astonishing $663,000 in 2013, making him one of the highest paid public officials in the country, exceeding even the President of the United States.
Fernandez was fired as a result of the Daily Breeze team’s extensive reporting. Kimitch, Kuznia and Suraci also won this year’s Scripps Howard Community Journalism Award for the same series.
As a Los Angeles Times story pointed out, The Daily Breeze’s first-ever prize is a remarkable accomplishment for a paper with only seven reporters in its newsroom.
The Daily Breeze is part of the Los Angeles News Group, where Kimitch works on special investigations and edits the Spanish-language newspaper Impacto. During her more than six years with the News Group, she has held positions including city editor, political editor and political reporter.
Her fifteen years’ experience as a journalist include more than two years at The Tico Times, where she worked from 2004 to 2006. She reported on a variety of issues, including health care, infrastructure and trade policy, but focused primarily on politics, coordinating the paper’s coverage of the 2006 presidential elections.
Kimitch lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Fabián Borges, also a former Tico Times reporter, and their daughter.