California Watch hires Pulitzer winner, finalist

Press release

California Watch Continues to Build Its Reporting Team

Berkeley, California – The Center for Investigative Reporting’s California Watch announced new additions to its reporting team today. Three new staff members, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, will help strengthen and expand the largest investigative reporting team operating in the State. New reporting beats will include the environment and public safety. California Watch will add an enterprise reporter focused on public health issues and a third education reporter to its team. Joining the reporting staff are:

Ryan Gabrielson, Public Safety investigative reporter
Gabrielson, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2009, will be joining California Watch at the end of August. He is currently a 2009-2010 investigative reporting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, his reporting for the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Arizona exposed that immigration enforcement by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office undermined criminal investigations and emergency response; scholarship charities that were committing tax fraud; and widespread academic and financial malfeasance at the nation’s largest community college district. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, Gabrielson’s work has received numerous national and state honors, including a George Polk Award, a Sigma Delta Chi Award and an Education Writers Association Award. He began his career at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas and studied journalism at the University of Arizona.

Susanne Rust, Environment investigative reporter
Rust, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2009, will join California Watch this month after completing a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. She began her journalism career in 2003 at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Over the past three years, Rust has focused her reporting on dangerous chemicals and lax regulations with colleagues at the Journal Sentinel. The series “Chemical Fallout” won the Sigma Delta Chi award, the George Polk award, two Scripps-Howard National Journalism Awards and the John Oakes award for environmental reporting. Rust and colleague Meg Kissinger were finalists in 2009 for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting. They also were finalists for the Grantham Prize for Environmental Journalism.

Joanna Lin, Enterprise reporter
Lin will be joining California Watch this month. She helped launch FairWarning, a nonprofit online publication covering safety and health, and related issues of corporate and government accountability. She previously worked at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Times, where she covered breaking news, religion and legal issues for the California and National desks. Lin is a San Francisco Bay Area native and graduate of the University of Southern California.

California Watch is also announcing today that, in an effort to enhance and deepen reporting in areas of great importance to the state, Louis Freedberg, who played a major role in establishing California Watch, will be assuming a new position in the organization. Freedberg will become a senior reporter focusing mainly on education, an issue he has covered over many years at a local, state and national level. During his tenure as director, Freedberg, among other assignments, spearheaded California Watch’s distribution strategy, which has resulted in its work being carried in 60 print, broadcast and online outlets around the state to date. Now that California Watch has successfully launched, Freedberg has expressed a desire to get more directly involved in reporting on California as a way to contribute to solutions to the state’s multiple challenges. Freedberg will also continue to advise California Watch in a number of areas.

The growing California Watch team now includes 11 full-time reporters, two multimedia producers and two editors covering topics including health and welfare, K-12 schools, higher education, and money and politics.

California Watch has one more immediate opening for the innovative new job of public engagement manager. The organization hopes to fill the position in the next few weeks.

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