David Mitchell, Weekly Editor Who Exposed a Corrupt Cult, Dies at 79

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David Mitchell, a muckraker whose tiny California newspaper challenged the violent drug rehabilitation cult Synanon and, as a result, became one of only a handful of weeklies to win a Pulitzer Prize, died on Oct. 25 at his home in Point Reyes Station, Calif., in Marin County. He was 79.

His wife, Lynn Axelrod Mitchell, said the cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease.

A gangly, grizzled former literature teacher, Mr. Mitchell also figured in a retaliatory libel suit by Synanon, the results of which advanced the rights of investigative reporters. In 1984, the California Supreme Court ruled that in certain cases they could keep the names of confidential sources secret without forfeiting their defense in libel and other civil cases.

Mr. Mitchell’s newspaper, The Point Reyes Light, was struggling financially, and the strain of keeping it afloat ultimately cost Mr. Mitchell his second marriage; his wife at the time, Catherine Mitchell, was co-publisher with him.

Content retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/01/business/media/david-mitchell-dead.html.

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