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Pulitzer-Winning Reporter Finds A Better Life In PR


The Daily Breeze won a Pulitzer Prize this week. Reporters Rob Kuznia and Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci, an editor on the small-circulation Los Angeles County newspaper, won the local reporting Pulitzer for a series of stories they did about corruption in a local school district. By the time they received the award, one of the reporters was no longer in journalism - he couldn't afford it. Rob Kuznia now works in publicity at the University of Southern California, where the pay is better. He joins us from our studios in Culver City, Calif.

First, congratulations.

ROB KUZNIA: Thank you so much.

SIMON: Is this the last thing you were expecting?

KUZNIA: It's about the last thing I was expecting, yes.

SIMON: Could you - I know you've been over this - could you tell us why you felt you had to leave journalism?

KUZNIA: Yes. I think there were two main reasons. First, I - you know, I could pay the rent. So it's not that I couldn't pay the rent, it's just that there wasn't much left after that. And my girlfriend and I were sort of just living paycheck-to-paycheck and doing just fine, you know. We weren't destitute, but we were saving nothing. And so yes, pay was definitely a big factor. And I think the other one, the other major factor, was more of a state-of-the-industry consideration interrelated with the pay issue. Print journalism, especially at the local level, is a scary place to be right now. And it felt like now that I'm pushing 40, it might be a good time to try something new and to obtain a new skill set.

SIMON: And there have been cutbacks at The Daily Breeze, I gather, in recent years?

KUZNIA: Yes. You know, roughly speaking, I would say in five or six years they've probably gone from 20 reporters down to five. They have seven slots, so they want to fill those two other slots, but there's only five reporters there now.

SIMON: Jobs are disappearing in orthodox journalism.

KUZNIA: Exactly. I mean, I have at least two publications on my resume that are no longer in existence. And I think a lot of reporters and journalists can say the same about theirs.

SIMON: Yeah. You realize - I mean, maybe, I don't know - Gerard Baker, the editor of The Wall Street Journal, they won a Pulitzer this week too. He's hearing, maybe, this interview. He's certainly heard of you and your Pulitzer. What if he or another big-time newspaper editor found you and offered you a job? Do you hope for anything like that?

KUZNIA: Well, I can't say that it wouldn't be a dream come true - it kind of would be. But, I don't know what I would do because that opportunity hasn't presented itself. And there's the other factor, which is, I like the job I'm at now. I work for USC Shoah Foundation, which isn't just some place to land. It's a pretty amazing place. It's, you know, really one of the world's leading institutions of Holocaust and genocide studies. Never thought I'd be there in a million years either, but it's turned out to be a very rich and rewarding experience. So the answer is, I - it's a very good question - I don't know what I would do if that happened.

SIMON: Rob Kuznia, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PR man. He won the Pulitzer this week, along with Rebecca Kimitch, and Frank Suraci of The Daily Breeze in Southern California.

Thanks so much for being with us and whatever you do, good luck to you sir.

KUZNIA: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.