The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Infamous court trials with Linda Deutsch

Linda Deutsch, renowned AP court reporter, shared stories with CSUN students about covering infamous court cases such as the Charles Manson and Michael Jackson trials. (Juan Pardo / The Sundial)

Starting her journalism career at the age of 12 by publishing a newspaper about Elvis Presley for 300 of his fans worldwide, Linda Deutsch had no plans to end up becoming one of the most respected female court reporters.

After graduating college, Deutsch began writing letters to various papers in southern California after falling in love with the state she visited regularly.

“Once I saw the Hollywood sign, I was a goner,” said Deutsch.

Determined, she saved enough money for a year to be able to purchase a plane ticket to California, a downpayment on a place to live and a car.

Originally, she made the move with the intentions of working as an entertainment reporter. She quickly found work, and even covered one of The Rolling Stones’ first concerts in America.

She applied for jobs at the L.A. Times, L.A. Herald Examiner and the Associated Press. Upon looking at her work, AP hired her immediately, making her the only woman in the newsroom for a long time, which came with difficulties regarding gender inequalities.

“At that time there was a contract that was very male-centric and there was a strike which I participated in, in 1969 over that contract and over salaries because women were paid much less than men,” said Deutsch.

It was during her career at the AP where Deutsch had the opportunity of a lifetime to cover various famous court trials such as Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, Charles Manson as well as the Pentagon papers trial.

“It was like covering the circus I mean it was just unbelievable, it was a very grotesque circus,” said Deutsch when asked what it was like covering the Charles Manson being a young female reporter.

Deutsch covered all three of the Rodney King court trials and revealed that while covering one of them, she watched the infamous video of King beaten by police officers 200 times.

“I can’t imagine having to watch it that many times. I couldn’t even get through watching it once so I have to commend her for that,” said Lisa Tomford, 24, a junior studying history. “It must not be easy to be exposed to much of the content that one sees when being a court reporter.”

Aside from dealing with uncomfortable situations inside of the court room, Deutsch learned that what she thought were harmless situations outside of work had consequences as well.

For example, personal relationships were strained during the coverage of the Michael Jackson court trial when she went out with friends who worked in the same field and found out that opinions she had about trials were being put into their news stories.

Although she lost friends, many more were made through her experiences.

“Court trials are important because they make a difference on our society and they have a great impact,” said CSUN journalism professor Stephanie Bluestein.

Some attendees left the presentation feeling inspired after hearing of all Deutsch’s accomplishments.

“As a woman, the steps she took to do whatever it takes to get the story it showed that women aren’t just somebody to be stepped over,” said Leilani Pellz, 27, a senior studying journalism. “That was inspiring.”

Deutsch has not completely stopped writing and has plans on spending some of her retirement time writing a memoir about her life, trials that she’s covered and many life experiences that have shaped her life.

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