Bettina Boxall

Bettina Boxall (born 1952[citation needed]) is an American journalist who covers water issues and the environment for the Los Angeles Times. She is a recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.[1] She graduated in 1974, with honors, from the University of Maine, in Orono.[2]

Bettina Boxall
EducationB.A., University of Maine
Years active1985–present
AwardsPulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting

Boxall, who is openly gay, has written about civil rights issues and joined in panel discussions about the role of LGBT journalists and writing about the issues that involve the LGBT community.[3][4][5]

Background and educationEdit

When she was growing up, Boxall did not have a deep desire to become a reporter, but in high school she became editor of The Maine Campus which was why she chose journalism as her major in university. At that point, she developed an interest in photojournalism.[citation needed]

She also enjoyed her geology class with Professor Stephen Norton. It was some of that early study that laid the groundwork for her Pulitzer Prize. She explained, "on both the exams and field trips, he demanded that his students think rather than regurgitate information. The facts were just the foundation for critical thinking. That was a valuable lesson to learn as a journalist."[citation needed]

Boxall graduated, in 1974, summa cum laude, with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maine.[6][2]


Boxall began her journalistic career, (1976-1977) as a staff photographer and writer at the San Marcos Daily Record – a small daily paper in Texas,[6] and the Bennington Banner, (1978-1982) in Vermont and a small newspaper in New Jersey.[7][8]

On environmental issuesEdit

Boxall began working at Los Angeles Times in 1987 covering environmental and natural resources, focusing on fire and water issues.[7][8] In 2009, Boxall and her colleague, Julie Cart, won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting (see Awards below).[1] Her work dovetails with her personal efforts, to conserve resources, and her views on the environmental issues she reports on. In one 2014 interview, she talked about the pride she has in conserving water[9] saying:

"I'm very proud that I do not have a blade of grass in my property. I have decomposed granite and succulents in my front yard. I put in native California plants. My peak water consumption has gone down by half. During the winter, I'm really not irrigating at all. I have high-efficiency water appliances. There was one water bill last year during the winter when I wasn’t irrigating at all that was down to 25 gallons per day and I went, Yes!"

In a 2016 interview, she spoke about the issues in the community of Monterey, and how local government needs to step up to prevent wildfires, saying "This area has burned over and over again and maybe we shouldn't have [houses] there."[8]

On civil rights and equalityEdit

In the 1990s, Boxall gained recognition for her work as she began covering gay rights and AIDS in California, at the time "gay marriage and other issues were bubbling to the surface, signaling profound social shifts."[10][11]

In 2013, Boxall, who is openly gay, joined a panel of openly gay and lesbian journalists in a discussion of "Out in the Newsroom: A look at LGBT coverage and careers in journalism."[3][4] In 2019, she participated in another panel discussion, hosted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center titled "Breaking News, Breaking Barriers," focusing on the coverage of, and representation of LGBT people beginning in the 1960s.[12]

In 2020, Boxall was among six journalists to sue the Los Angeles Times over pay disparities due to race and gender bias.[5] The civil suit was settled after numerous staffers, both current and former employees, joined in a writing campaign; social media protested the disparate treatment as black journalists called out the Times using the hashtag #BlackatLAT.[13][14]


Boxall received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2009 with her colleague Julie Cart. The prize was for their 15-month investigation, leading up to the series of "Big Burn" stories, exploring the cost and effectiveness of fighting wildfires in the western United States.[15][16] During their investigation, they examined US Forest Service records obtained by using the Freedom of Information Act, and traveled to Australia, investigating the country's different firefighting activities.[17][18]

The Pulitzer board noted that the series was a "fresh and painstaking exploration into the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat the growing menace of wildfires."[1] The series of stories are listed below.[19]

  • "Big Burn: Out of control?" Los Angeles Times, Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart, July 27, 2008.[20]
  • "Big Burn: Just for show?" Los Angeles Times, Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart, July 29, 2008.[21]
  • "A politician gets his way," Los Angeles Times, Julie Cart, July 29, 2008.[22]
  • "Big Burn: In harms way," Los Angeles Times, Bettina Boxall, July 31, 2008.[23]
  • "Big Burn: Small trees, large threat," Los Angeles Times, Bettina Boxall, July 31, 2008.[24]
  • "Big Burn:Beige plague," Los Angeles Times, Bettina Boxall, August 2, 2008.[25]
  • "Big Burn: On their own," Los Angeles Times, Julie Cart, August 3, 2008.[18]

In 2009 Boxall was given Northern Arizona University's, Robert R. Eunson Distinguished Lecturer Award.[26]


  1. ^ a b c The Pulitzer Prizes. "Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of Los Angeles Times". Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "A Visit with Bettina Boxall '74 - Honors College - University of Maine". Honors College. April 15, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Zonkel, Phillip (February 27, 2013). "Gay journalists – including Out in the 562 – will discuss being out in the workplace during Saturday panel". Out in the 562. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "A look at LGBT coverage and careers in journalism |". Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  5. ^ a b NPR, -David Folkenflik |. "6 Journalists Sued LA Times Over Gender, Racial Pay Disparities; Settlement May Be Reached". LAist. Archived from the original on September 26, 2020. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Meet the Heartland Project's Advisory Council". Asian American Journalists Association. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Bettina Boxall: Writer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Ryce, Walter. "Bettina Boxall". Monterey County Weekly. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  9. ^ Cohan, Ellen (December 31, 2014). "Bettina Boxall". Climate One. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  10. ^ "Google Scholar". Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  11. ^ "Proposition 209: How California's Battle Over Affirmative Action Exposed Deep Flaws with Direct Democracy". Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy. March 24, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  12. ^ "Opinion | 'Why do we need the LGBT media?'". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. May 1, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  13. ^ NPR. "LA Times To Settle Suit Over Race And Gender Bias, As Editor Promises Change". LAist. Archived from the original on October 3, 2020. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  14. ^ "Letter to Patrick Soon-Shiong from the L.A. Times Guild's Black Caucus". L.A. Times Guild - Los Angeles Times Guild. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  15. ^ "Environmental news from California and beyond". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  16. ^ "Cronkite Alumna Wins Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting". Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. April 21, 2009. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  17. ^ "Full Coverage: Big Burn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  18. ^ a b "'Stay or go' policy puts Australian families on front lines of firefighting". Los Angeles Times. August 3, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  19. ^ "Series of articles on wildfires wins Pulitzer Prize". Wildfire Today. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  20. ^ "OUT OF CONTROL". Los Angeles Times. July 27, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  21. ^ "JUST FOR SHOW?". Los Angeles Times. July 29, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  22. ^ "A POLITICIAN GETS HIS WAY". Los Angeles Times. July 29, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  23. ^ "IN HARM'S WAY". Los Angeles Times. July 31, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  24. ^ "Small trees, large threat". Los Angeles Times. July 31, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  25. ^ "Beige plague". Los Angeles Times. August 2, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  26. ^ "NAU alumna receives award for environmental journalism". The Lumberjack. Retrieved October 12, 2020.