The Los Angeles Times’ coverage of problems with Toyota vehicles received the paper’s prestigious Publisher’s Prize, according to a note posted on the paper’s Web site.
“Toyota: Road to Recall,” was written by business reporters Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian. It was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize as well.
Editor Russ Stanton said, “It began with a tragic accident near San Diego. An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, was driving his family in a borrowed Lexus when the car accelerated out of control, leading to a crash that killed all four in the vehicle. The Aug. 28 crash, in which the driver’s frantic efforts to stop the vehicle were recorded in a 911 emergency call, led to the biggest recall in Toyota history. Toyota blamed the problem on floor mats entrapping the gas pedal.
“Ken and Ralph were skeptical, asking a series of questions that weren’t being addressed by the automaker or federal highway safety investigators. In the weeks following the recall, Ken and Ralph wrote 14 stories dealing with sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, including six that ran on Page One. Throughout their reporting, Ken and Ralph faced resistance and hostility from both Toyota and federal regulators. NHTSA staff refused to consent to interviews, and Toyota disparaged their reporting on the company website. But as events unfolded, Ken and Ralph’s reporting has proven on target.”
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