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He started at the paper in 1971 as a copy editor in the View section. His positions in subsequent years included city bureau chief, metro reporter, editorial writer, assistant national editor, Opinion editor and assistant editor for the Editorial Page. He was laid off from his position as an Op Ed contributor in a staff cutback in 2011.
Rutten won a 1991 award from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club for editorial writing. He wrote about the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which won him a share of a 1995 Pulitzer Prize awarded to the staff of the Times for Breaking News Reporting. He became the first to notice, and publicly expose, several doctored or manipulated photographs in the 2006 Lebanon War photographs controversies. In 2007, he was honored by the Anti-Defamation League for advancing the ideals of the First Amendment.
- Kaufman, Alexander C. (December 14, 2012). "Ex-LA Times Columnist Tim Rutten Hired by LA Daily News". The Wrap: Covering Hollywood. The Wrap News, Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- "Tim Rutten Bio". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2011-03-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Shaw, Lucas (Jul 28, 2011). "L.A. Times Cuts Veteran Writers Tim Rutten, Mark Heisler, Jerry Crowe". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- Story and audio of ex-columnist Tim Rutten telling of his layoff and predicting the future of the Times, September 14, 2011][dead link]
- "ADL Honors L.A. Times Columnist Tim Rutten For Advancing Ideals Of First Amendment". Anti-Defamation League. November 14, 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-02-13. Retrieved 2011-03-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)