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One year ago: Jack Nelson

October 21, 2010 |  6:00 am

Jack-nelson Jack Nelson was a Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times reporter and Washington, D.C., bureau chief who helped establish the paper's national reputation in the 1960s and '70s.

Nelson broke major stories on the civil rights movement for The Times, particularly in his coverage of the shooting of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo and the slaying of three black students in South Carolina in what is known as the Orangeburg Massacre.

He also scored an enviable scoop in the Watergate scandal with his interview of an ex-FBI agent who witnessed the break-in at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. The stories resulting from Nelson's interview were the first to link the burglary "right to the heart of the Nixon reelection campaign," David Halberstam wrote in his 1979 media history, “The Powers That Be.”

Nelson became The Times' Washinton bureau chief in 1975, and for 20 years he oversaw its development into what Gene Roberts Jr., former managing editor of the New York Times, called "arguably one of the finest bureaus ever in Washington."

Nelson had made a noteworthy career for himself before even arriving at The Times. At wht was then the Atlanta Constitution, he exposed in a series of articles an array of abuses at a mental institution. As a result of his reporting, the hospital was overhauled and Nelson won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 1960.

In addition to reporting, Nelson wrote or co-wrote several books and was a regular commentator on public television's "Washington Week in Review."

Read more about the award-winning reporter in Jack Nelson's obituary by The Times. Also, see a video of some of his appearances on "Washington Week in Review."

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Jack Nelson. Credit: Los Angeles Times