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Rob Kuznia (center), a former <em>Santa Barbara News-Press</em> reporter, is flanked by City Editor Frank Suraci and reporter Rebecca Kimitch. The three won the Putlizer Prize for Torrance's <em>Daily Breeze</em> with their coverage of corruption at Centinela Valley Union High School District.

Courtesy of the Daily Breeze

Rob Kuznia (center), a former Santa Barbara News-Press reporter, is flanked by City Editor Frank Suraci and reporter Rebecca Kimitch. The three won the Putlizer Prize for Torrance's Daily Breeze with their coverage of corruption at Centinela Valley Union High School District.


Fired News-Presser Wins Pulitzer


Reporter Rob Kuznia, fired by Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw in 2007 for union activities, has won a coveted Pulitzer Prize.

Kuznia, while he was with the Torrance Daily Breeze, worked on an investigative report exposing a grossly overpaid superintendent of a small “cash-strapped” school district, according to Pulitzer officials, and was announced today as a Pulitzer winner for the series. The Daily Breeze, founded in 1894, has a circulation of 63,000 and has never won a Pulitzer before this.

The sequence of stories showed how superintendent Jose Fernandez negotiated perk-loaded contracts at Centinela Valley Union High School District that paid him $663,000 a year in total compensation; he also was given a $900,000 home loan at 2 percent. He is no longer with the district.

Kuznia shares the prize with fellow staffer Rebecca Kimitch and editor Frank Suraci. He is now a publicist with the USC Shoah Foundation.

Kuznia and five other reporters were fired after a Highway 101 bridge protest of News-Press unfair labor practices. The firings were part of what’s known as the “News-Press meltdown” that included other firings and departures by top editors, reporters, and columnists starting in 2006.

Newsroom employees voted to form a union to protect themselves against what they saw as McCaw’s arbitrary actions contrary to federal labor law. She fought the union and so far has not agreed to sign a contract despite extended negotiations over the years.

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