Full Nelson  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   July/August 2001

Full Nelson   

Investigative reporter Deborah Nelson leaves Post for the L.A. Times.

By Lonnie Shekhtman
     


THE LOS ANGELES TIMES lures Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Deborah Nelson away from the Washington Post to expand and run its D.C.-based national investigative team. She is adding four new reporters to a group she describes as "already staffed with extraordinary talent."
Though she loved the Post and its commitment to investigative journalism, "L.A. dangled a job that was equally tough to pass up," says Nelson, whose title is investigative editor. L.A. Times Editor John Carroll and Managing Editor Dean Baquet "have a proven commitment to investigative journalism. They have both done it. And they have made investigative reporting one of their top priorities.... So it seemed like the stars were aligned for doing great things here."
Nelson replaces Glenn Bunting, who is now deputy business editor in Los Angeles. She'll be missed at the Post. "I'm really sorry that Deb has left," says Post Assistant Managing Editor/Metro Jo-Ann Armao. "She's a loss."
Nelson spent two years at the Post, writing about medical research as a reporter with the investigative unit and managing local projects as metro investigations editor. She was part of a team that won an Overseas Press Club award for a series on pharmaceutical drug testing in developing countries. Earlier, during four years on the investigative team at the Seattle Times, Nelson initiated two large projects, one on natural resources and the other on abuses in the federal housing program for Native Americans, for which she, Eric Nalder and Alex Tizon won a Pulitzer in 1997.
Nelson also teaches an investigative reporting class at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.
The Times' national investigative team will double in size under Nelson and tackle both short- and long-term projects. "We will be looking at Washington itself and using it as a base to look at other international issues," Nelson says. "What we hope to do is produce some in-depth, big projects as well as 'running pieces,' " on specific subject areas.
The paper's emphasis on investigative reporting is what drew Nelson, who says her new job is "an opportunity to really make a difference at one of the country's leading papers."

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