When Kristina Bui looks around the Los Angeles Times newsroom, the copy editor sometimes feels as if she’s back in a University of Arizona journalism classroom.
Four UA J-alums had a hand Monday in the newspaper winning the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for its staff coverage of the San Bernardino mass shooting, and two other UA grads are on the Times' staff.
Brittny Mejia (’14), Stephen Ceasar (’09) and Marisa Gerber ('11) were part of the reporting team, while Bui (’13) pitched in as a copy editor. Nicole Santa Cruz (’09) also is a Times reporter, while Luke Money (’12) joined the L.A. Times Community News in Costa Mesa last month.
“It is pretty great to have so many UA alumni around,” said Bui, who worked with Mejia and Money at the Daily Wildcat. “It reminds me of home.”
Mejia shared a byline on the Dec. 13 story, “The Pursuit,” while Ceasar contributed to Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 coverage, and Gerber added reporting to the Dec. 4 coverage. Bui helped copy-edit some of the live updates online and also worked on the print coverage.
"The best part of my job is the encouragement I get from my editor and colleagues, and the freedom to report stories I love," Mejia said. "I have the best job, honestly."
Bui was Mejia's editor-in-chief at the Wildcat.
"We've maintained the friendship we built there," Mejia said. "And while I didn't meet Marisa or Stephen while I was in school, they've both helped me a lot since I started here. Marisa is actually my mentor."
The Dec. 2 attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino left 14 people dead and 24 injured, the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.
Judges awarded the Times staff a Pulitzer in Breaking News Reporting, “for exceptional reporting, including both local and global perspectives, on the shooting in San Bernardino and the terror investigation that followed.”
It was the Los Angeles Times’ 44th Pulitzer, and it comes more than 30 years after three other UA grads were part of an L.A. Times series on Latinos that won the paper the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1984.
Journalism majors Frank O. Sotomayor ('66) was the series co-editor, Jose Galvez ('72) was the lead photographer and journalism minor Virginia Escalante was a key reporter. Escalante later taught journalism at UA.
"Congrats Marisa, Brittny, Stephen and Kristina — and to their instructors," Sotomayor wrote on Facebook.
Indeed, Mejia credits her instructors at the UA and time at the Wildcat for shaping her young career.
"My professors pushed me to get better and apply to internships," Mejia said, "and my (Wildcat) adviser, Mr. (Mark) Woodhams, never let me give up on a story and always helped guide me."
As for the other UA grads, Santa Cruz is the Times' lead reporter in charge of The Homicide Report, "an interactive map, database and blog that chronicles homicides in Los Angeles County," the paper says. Money covers Costa Mesa (Calif.) City Hall after joining the Times' community paper in March following a three-year stint as a political reporter at the Santa Clarita (Calif.) Signal.
to see the L.A. Times’ winning package of stories.