Columns by Michael Hiltzik | Hillman Foundation

Hillman Prizes

2024 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism

Michael Hiltzik headshot

Michael Hiltzik

Los Angeles Times

At this moment in time when accurate information is indispensable—for the preservation of public health; for the efforts to create a more vibrant and fair economy; and for the very functioning of our democracy—we are awash in misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda.

The deceits of 2023 crossed the entire spectrum of public issues. 

They encompassed lies about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election; exaggerations of trends in crime, such as retail shoplifting; distortions of the nature of treatments for transgender young people; misrepresentations of the fiscal condition of Social Security that would weaken retirement security for ordinary Americans while preserving the wealth of the affluent; the minimization of global warming; and the undermining of research into climate change. 

Throughout the year, Michael Hiltzik devoted a substantial share of his more than 150 Los Angeles Times columns to reporting on the roots of this disinformation epidemic. He explored the sources and the nature of the lies, laying bare the tactics of powerful vested interests. He corrected, debunked, and refuted the fabrications that undermine science, empiricism, and public trust.

Screenshot of one of Hitzik's columns

Hiltzik’s columns exemplify the standards of investigative journalism, and tell the truth about public policies that improve the lives of all Americans. Many readers who were trying to get a handle on what was real, and what was not, sent messages of praise and gratitude.

Attacks on science and their consequences for public health were a special focus. Hiltzik exposed the flaws in anti-vaccine propaganda, and the fraudulent studies cited by anti-vaxxers. He cast a critical eye on claims that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, leaked from a lab. And he continued, as he has done throughout his career, to demystify the political economy, and dispel the myths of trickle-down economics.

While his paper, the once-mighty Los Angeles Times, battles to retain the scope and acuity that made it the leading source of news and analysis in the American West, Hiltzik has become its rock: an indispensable voice readers turn to, for the real deal. 

Michael Hiltzik is a journalist and author who has written for the Los Angeles Times for more than three decades, serving as a financial and political writer, investigative reporter, technology writer and editor, and foreign correspondent in Africa and Russia. He is the author of seven books, of which the most recent, Iron Empires: Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America (2020), covers the nation’s history during the Gilded Age of the late 19th Century. His next book, a history of California, will be published in January. With his colleague Chuck Philips, Hiltzik received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for articles exposing corruption in the entertainment industry. His other awards for excellence in reporting include the 2004 Gerald Loeb Award for outstanding business commentary and the Silver Gavel from the American Bar Association for outstanding legal reporting. A graduate of Colgate University and Columbia University, he lives in Southern California.