WitnessLA Wins 1st Place & 3rd Place at the LA Press Club Awards!

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

With all the complex and troubling news of the past week, we neglected to announce some of our own recent happy news.

Here’s the deal:

After much COVID-related delay, the 62nd Southern California Journalism Awards sponsored by the LA Press Club were finally presented this past Saturday, August 29, 2020, at a virtual awards ceremony.

Naturally, at WitnessLA, we made sure to tune in to find out who among our colleagues had won prizes.

Plus, because WLA was a finalist in two categories among the online publications, we were, of course, interested to see how we’d fared.

And we were thrilled to learn that we won or placed in both categories in which we’d made the finals.

Centinela Regional Detention Center, LA County’s large women’s jail

In the category of best Online Hard News Feature, WitnessLA reporter Lauren Lee White won the first place award for her important and excellent story, “#MeToo Behind Bars: Sexual Misconduct at the LA County Women’s Jail.”

Here is what the judges’ said about White’s deeply researched investigation:

“In a disturbing feature about a serious issue, White illuminates a difficult situation for inmates.”

We thank the judges for that.

And we are also very grateful to the Fund for Investigative Journalism whose generous support helped to make White’s story possible.

Then in the category of best Online Investigative story or series, we won a third-place award for our three-part series “Facing the Inferno, which asked why LA County Probation wasn’t prepared to evacuate kids and staff at Campus Kilpatrick when a monster wildfire struck.

Campus Kilpatrick, Friday morning, November 9, 2018

(Bloomberg News won the first prize in that category for reporters Mark Bergen and Lucas Shaw’s excellent four-part series about the struggle inside YouTube and Google, YouTube’s owner, as more and more people inside and outside the companies raised concerns about the mass of “false, incendiary, and toxic content that the world’s largest video site surfaced and spread.”)

In both of our categories, all of the other finalists featured excellent stories by publications with much larger staffs and budgets.

So we felt very good to be recognized in their company.

Just thought you’d like to know.


  • See, I knew there were some good judges left… Congrats Celeste!

    You asked me aways back to tell you what I thought of Dodgers: A Novel, by Bill Beverly. Loved it, told from a viewpoint of the protagonist from a world quite different in what I’d come across before.

    I finished The Nickel Boys, which reminded me of Dodgers, and man can Colson Whitehead write.

    Congrats again, well earned

  • Editor’s note:

    Hi, Jim,

    How nice to see your name here, my friend. I’m glad you read Dodgers. You’re reminding me again how much I loved that novel. And, agreed about Nickel Boys and about Colson Whitehead, in general.

    Take care.


  • Congratulations, Celeste, to you and your team! Well deserved and always an excellent resource.
    Hope you are doing well, safe, and surviving these crazy times!
    (BTW, Let me know if you are interested in writing about equal opportunity for all being returned to CA with Prop 16. Been working with the coalition for the past 8 months. 209 has had terrible consequences, especially for CA POC and women of every color. That school to prison pipeline we all refer to being one of the disastrous outcomes, as well.)


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