The winners were announced April 18.
Kate Linthicum, a 2004 graduate of Albuquerque Academy, traveled to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, to learn more about the woman who, alongside her husband, killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2.
Linthicum said she was also one of many Times reporters who drove to San Bernardino and helped gather information on the day of the attack as details were released.
According to reports, Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, entered the building that day wearing “assault-style clothing” and carrying loaded assault rifles and handguns. The couple had met online, been married for two years and had a 6-month-old daughter.
Farook worked at the center as a health inspector and Malik was trained as a pharmacist but stayed home to care for the couple’s daughter.
Malik was a Pakistani national but spent most of her time in Saudi Arabia where her family were guest immigrant workers. Linthicum flew to Riyadh nearly a week after the shootings, her first time in the oil-rich country. Gathering news there as a woman, she said, was challenging.
“It required a different kind of reporting,” she said. “It was daunting because women are really isolated there. I’m used to leaving my hotel, going out on the street and asking someone what they thought. You can’t go anywhere there without a male guardian.”
The Saudi press office assigned Linthicum a male escort, called a government minder, to accompany her on her interviews and keep an eye on what she was doing.
She located Malik’s family but said they were reluctant to talk because they were just as horrified about the incident as everyone else. One of the most surprising things about the story, Linthicum said, was how little information was available about Malik.
“It was so hard to get information about this woman, because women in Saudi Arabia don’t leave a trace,” she said. “They don’t socialize outside their family and they are isolated. I was surprised at what a small trace she left in a way.”
Linthicum graduated from Barnard College in New York in 2008 and joined the Times as an intern a week later. She also was an intern at the Albuquerque Journal in the summers of 2005 and 2006.
This summer, Linthicum, who is bilingual, will transfer to the Times’ Mexico City bureau and become a foreign correspondent for the paper.
Linthicum comes from a family of longtime journalists. Her mother, Leslie Linthicum, is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Albuquerque Journal as a reporter and UpFront columnist.
Her father, Michael Haederle, was an editor at People magazine and a freelance journalist who contributed to some of the country’s largest publications, including the LA Times.