The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday honored “legendary” Associated Press reporter Linda Deutsch for her 48 years covering trials including those of Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, the Manson family murders and ex-L.A. Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s recent competency hearing.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who recommended the honor, said Deutsch “wrote the story of virtually every major civil and criminal court trial on the West Coast.”
Deutsch called Los Angeles “the greatest news town in the world” and counted herself lucky to have had the chance to cover it.
Though she’s leaving the AP, Deutsch said, “I’m not retiring, I’m rewiring.”
She’s writing a memoir of her time tracking major stories like the Pentagon Papers case, the bank robbery trial of kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and Michael Jackson’s acquittal on accusations of child molestation, among many others.
Kuehl noted that Deutsch broke into “one of the toughest news beats in a macho profession during its ‘Mad Men’ era, when ‘girl reporters’ were more likely to be found covering home and gardening news than ax murderers and serial killers.”
Yet Deutsch carved out a successful career, ultimately coming to national prominence as the pool reporter covering jury selection for O.J. Simpson’s double-murder trial.
The veteran reporter said she had no regrets.
“I can’t think of anything I could have done with my life that would have been more satisfying,” Deutsch told City News Service outside the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.
She said she hopes editors and reporters continue to recognize the value of paying close attention to what happens inside the courtroom.
“You have to be there every day” in order to understand the issues, Deutsch said.
“(Reporters) are part of the justice system. Without us, the message of justice would never get told.”
The first chapter of her book will focus on the Manson trial.
“It’s the one that everybody remembers and wants to know more about,” Deutsch said. “If I had written it as fiction, no one would have believed it.”
— City News Service