Chris Shinn

Alumna von Bertrab wins 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting

Alumna Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab (M.A. International Journalism '96) won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for her and co-winner David Barstow's series in The New York Times about Wal-Mart using widespread bribery to dominate the retail industry in Mexico.

After more than a year of reporting, von Bertrab and Barstow exposed how Wal-Mart bribed officials to obtain permits and gain a competitive advantage in Mexico. They also showed how Wal-Mart employees attempted to cover up corrupt tactics. Von Bertrab and Barstow's reporting prompted an investigation by the Justice Department into whether Wal-Mart violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

"I know the entire Trojan Family joins me in congratulating Alejandra for winning one of the most prestigious and well-known awards in the world," Dean Ernest J. Wilson III said. "Her reporting is a prime example of the journalism we teach our students at the USC Annenberg School. We are all proud of her work and the impact it continues to have on local, national and international levels." 

Von Bertrab was a fellow at the former USC Center for International Journalism, which was founded and directed by journalism professor emeritus Murray Fromson.

Among the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting was Alexandra Zayas, who recently won USC Annenberg's 2013 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting (Read about Zayas' recent visit to USC Annenberg).

Von Bertrab's Bio:

Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab started in Guadalajara as a radio broadcaster and writer with the Siglo 21 newspaper, in the Metro and Regional sections. She later joined the paper’s investigative unit and worked on stories ranging from drug trafficking to state corruption and top political assassinations. She was given the 1992 National Journalism Award for her coverage of the explosions of 8 kilometers of streets in Guadalajara. Von Bertrab reported on social issues such as the plights of the deaf in Mexico and of marginalized residents of small rural villages. She moved to Mexico City 15 years ago and worked for Reforma and Milenio newspapers, Gatopardo, National Geographic, as a freelance journalist. As a reporter in Mexico City she has investigated health and social issues for the Mexican edition of Gabriel García Marquez´s magazine, Cambio, and was an editor at the business biweekly Expansion. In 2010 and 2011, von Bertrab was part of the ICIJ team that investigated big tobacco’s global lobbying strategies. She has developed an expertise in using Mexico’s young Freedom of Information Act and has been an active trainer of fellow reporters around the country.

Winning Series
School of Journalism