2014 Knight Award for Public Service finalist

Earthquake Preparedness in Southern California


Rong-Gong Lin II, Rosanna Xia, Doug Smith

Los Angeles Times

Knight Award for Public Service


Entry Links
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

View Entry
About the Project

We all know about fault lines, aftershocks and the Big One. But to live in earthquake country is to live in denial.

Over the last year, Times reporters, programmers and others made it much more difficult to maintain that state of obliviousness in the face of danger.

These journalists jolted readers and government officials with a series of articles and interactive presentations that examined two of the greatest risks in earthquake country: brittle concrete buildings and huge holes in oversight of construction on seismic faults. In both cases, The Times stepped in where government officials for years had failed to act.

This was street reporting at its best. Reporters walked the boulevards of downtown L.A., Hollywood, Westwood and Sherman Oaks to conduct a detailed census of at-risk buildings. They went through century-old building records looking for clues. They painstakingly followed the path of fault lines. And back in the office, data visualization experts and programmers were creating stunning — and terrifying — interactive features, such as a flyover of a Hollywood fault, to drive the message home and clarify complex topics.

The impact of this work has been far-reaching. California’s governor has ordered officials to speed up their mapping of earthquake faults. L.A.’s mayor appointed an earthquake czar. The L.A. City Council and state Legislature are exploring ways to help property owners pay for repairs.

This is journalism that will save lives.