Readers' Representative Journal
A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards
Staff news: Brandi Grissom, Amy Fiscus, Melody Petersen join L.A. Times

Times editors have announced three additions to the newsroom staff -- enterprise editor; an assistant editor in Washington, D.C.; and an aerospace reporter: 

From Times Editor Davan Maharaj and Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin:

As managing editor of the nonprofit Texas Tribune, Brandi Grissom has been a force for outstanding investigative journalism. So we’re thrilled to announce that she is heading to Los Angeles to join The Times’ Metro staff.

As Enterprise Editor, Brandi will help editors in Metro shoulder the workload of investigative and enterprise editing. She’ll also use her organizational and digital skills to help us plan and manage our projects more effectively. She will report to Shelby Grad.

The Texas Tribune focuses on investigative, policy and political reporting. Brandi has worked at the news site since it launched in 2009.  She knows her way around data and video, and she has excelled as both an investigative reporter and editor.

“Hurting for Work,” a recent series she...

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Staff news: Shelby Grad to oversee local coverage; Kim Murphy to head national/foreign

A memo to the newsroom from Times Editor Davan Maharaj and Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin:

Today we announce a reorganization involving three of our most important news departments. These changes will advance our efforts to produce a digital report second to none, and reaffirm our commitment to first-rate accountability and enterprise journalism.

We also announce, with decidedly mixed emotions, that Foreign Editor Mark Porubcansky is leaving The Times after 16 years as a mainstay of our international coverage.  More on that later.

Here are the details on the leadership changes:

California news

Shelby Grad becomes assistant managing editor for California news.

Shelby brings many valuable qualities to this important role: a deep knowledge of our city and state, a fire for accountability journalism, a relentless work ethic and fluency in digital journalism.

He succeeds Ashley Dunn, who is moving to the national desk after three and a half years leading Metro. As deputy national editor,...

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Staff news: Neal Leitereg joins Times' new Hot Property blog

Times Business Editor Kimi Yoshino announced the debut of the Hot Property blog, and the addition of reporter Neal Leitereg. Here's her memo to the staff:  

Since its inception in 1984, Hot Property has been a trailblazer for celebrity real estate news – a Times hallmark emulated by numerous other outlets in print and online. As it nears its 30th anniversary, Hot Property is undergoing an exciting expansion.

Neal Leitereg, who made a name for himself breaking sports celebrity news at Realtor.com, has joined The Times’ Business staff. He’s teamed with veteran Hot Property columnist Lauren Beale and real estate editor Peter Pae to launch a Hot Property blog that will be a must-read destination for celebrity real estate news.

The Hot Property coverage will include many new features:

Real estate transactions of all-star athletes and high-profile executives. Home of the Day – spotlighting the most spectacular houses on the market around Southern California and beyond. Throwback Thursday –...

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Staff news: W.J. Hennigan to cover Pentagon; Josh Rottenberg joins Calendar

The Times this week announced two staffing moves: W.J. Hennigan, who has been a Times Business reporter since 2009, is moving to Washington, D.C., to cover the Pentagon. And Josh Rottenberg, a reporter at Entertainment Weekly, is joining the Calendar staff as a senior film reporter. The announcement memos follow.

W.J. Hennigan

W.J. Hennigan, a terrific and award-winning reporter on the L.A. Times Business staff, will be joining the Washington, D.C., bureau this summer as a Pentagon correspondent. Bill joined The Times in 2009 and has spent much of his time focusing on Southern California’s aerospace and defense industries, which will stand him in good stead as he takes on the broader field of covering the U.S. military.

In the last year, Bill has written memorably about budget battles between manned and robotic fighter planes, electronic warfare technology, efforts to repair and resurrect a badly damaged B-2 bomber and a pair of guys who comb through the Mojave desert looking for...

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L.A. Times updates newsroom ethics guidelines

The Los Angeles Times has updated its newsroom ethics guidelines. The guidelines, which apply to all Times journalists as well as freelancers, were last revised in 2011. The guidelines are publicly available at latimes.com/ethics.

LOS ANGELES TIMES ETHICS GUIDELINES

June 2014

INTRODUCTION

The goal of the Los Angeles Times is to publish news and information of the highest quality. This requires The Times, across its entire portfolio of editorial products, to be, above all else, a principled news organization. Making it so is the responsibility of every staff member.

In deed and in appearance, journalists at The Times must keep themselves — and the organization — above reproach.

Credibility, a news organization’s most precious asset, is arduously acquired and easily squandered. It can be maintained only if each of us accepts responsibility for it. The ways a news organization can discredit itself are beyond calculation; these guidelines do not purport to cover them all. It is best to...

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Winners of the L.A. Times' 2013 Editorial Awards

The Times' Editorial Awards for 2013, handed out in a ceremony Thursday night, honored both accountability journalism and what Editor Davan Maharaj called “the ever-growing types of journalism we produce in this Digital Age.”

“This age has required we formerly ink-stained wretches to master many new disciplines,” Maharaj said. “And I am proud of what you've all accomplished:

“Our new website, which I consider the best news site out there. The groundbreaking journalism being produced out of the data desk. The mastery of digital breaking news on display on our various 'Now'  blogs. The miraculous lede-alls our rewrite reporters construct out of the chaos of a huge story. The risks our reporters are taking in global war zones. And the intelligence, guts and playfulness our entertainment team brings to our hometown industry.”

The winners:

Beat reporting: Raja Abdulrahim and Patrick McDonnell. As the Syrian civil war has become more politically complex and morally murky, covering the...

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Carolina Miranda to lead new culture blog at L.A. Times

Carolina Miranda is joining the Calendar staff to lead a new blog called Culture: High & Low, Assistant Managing Editor John Corrigan announced. 

Here's his memo to the staff:

"Please join me in welcoming Carolina Miranda, who has joined the Calendar team as a writer analyzing the various intersections where arts and pop culture meet. She will bring her unique and savvy voice to latimes.com and helm our new Culture: High & Low blog, in which she will cover topics ranging from museums to murals, art books to comics, and art-house documentaries to telenovelas.

"During Carolina’s years as a reporter at Time magazine, from 2004 to 2007, she was part of the team that broke the news of irregularities in FEMA director Michael Brown’s resume in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Carolina has spent the past few years writing for a wide variety of publications, including ARTnews, Architect, Fast Company, Lucky Peach and Lonely Planet Magazine. She also has been a featured contributor on public radio...

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UCSB rampage: Why run some victims' photos, but not all?

Coverage of the shooting rampage Friday night in Isla Vista, which killed six UCSB students along with the gunman, raised a question: Why were only three of the six victims pictured on the front page of Monday’s print edition?

The three pictured -- Veronika Weiss, Christopher Michaels-Martinez and Katherine Breann Cooper -- were white; the three not pictured -- George Chen, Cheng Yuan Hong and Weihan “David” Wang -- were Asian American. This added a racial element to the question.

“Racist LA Times publishes photos of white victims only,” one commenter charged on Facebook. Another reader asked on Twitter, “Why only put pictures of half the victims, on the front page, above the fold? And is it a coincidence that the 3 not shown were minorities (Asian males)?”

So, what happened? Why were only three victims’ photos published?

The answer is simple, and not at all sinister.

"Their families do not live here, and the school did not release any photos of them," said Calvin Hom, Times director...

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Times' new 'RealTime Desk' to focus on breaking news online

The Times is taking a new approach to covering breaking news with the creation of a "RealTime news desk" that will focus on coverage for the relaunched latimes.com.

Deputy Managing Editor Megan Garvey, who is overseeing the effort, says the RealTime desk will cover news as it happens, around the clock.

"We are augmenting coverage, not replacing our existing efforts," Garvey said. "RealTime staffers will be charged with helping to extend our coverage of major and high-interest stories with smart follow-ups on running stories, and coordinating with the sections so we are improving our online report and not duplicating efforts."

Garvey will be working closely with Julie Westfall, who most recently was breaking news editor for Digital First Media. Westfall also worked for KPCC, where she helped the public radio station shift priorities toward publishing online. And she was part of the team that launched TBD.com, a local news startup covering the Washington metro area, where she ran daily...

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Julie Westfall to lead L.A. Times' new online desk

The Times has hired an editor to lead a newly created desk that will focus on online news coverage.

Julie Westfall will be the first editor of the "RealTime news desk."

Deputy Managing Editor Megan Garvey announced the hire in this memo to the newsroom:

"I’m delighted to announce that Julie Westfall, who has been a leader in breaking news across digital platforms, is joining The Times as the first RealTime news desk editor.

"She comes to us with a great track record of building digital teams that work well with traditional newsrooms. Julie was the breaking news editor for Digital First Media, where she headed a team focused on covering news as it happened and finding creative ways to present that coverage. She helped KPCC shift priorities toward publishing online beginning in 2011. She also was part of the team that launched TBD.com, a local news startup covering the Washington metro area, where she ran daily breaking news coverage.

"Before moving into digital journalism full-time,...

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Article examines Sterling charity ads, but reader questions remain

Print readers of the Los Angeles Times are no doubt familiar with Donald Sterling’s advertisements.

Long before the furor over the Clippers’ owner’s comments about blacks, which led the NBA to ban him for life, readers would email The Times to complain about the ads’ amateurish design and self-congratulatory content. Many of the ads were for his apartment buildings. Other touted the work of his Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation.

On Sunday, an article by Times staff writers Paul Pringle, Joe Mozingo and Angel Jennings looked into some of the claims made on behalf of the foundation.

One series of print ads touted a horse ranch in Malibu for underprivileged kids – but the reporters found that no proposals had been filed with the city of Malibu for such a project. Other ads said the foundation had made commitments for up to $20 million in charitable giving, but the reporters found that the amount actually distributed so far is much smaller.

Leaders of some social service groups that...

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Live chat: Discuss the redesigned latimes.com

The launch of the new latimes.com is more than a redesign. The whole site has been reimagined.

What's new? Most everything.

- A content menu is anchored on the left side of the screen, so you can navigate to a new section from within an article.

- Endless scrolling means no more clicking from one page to the next to read a full article.

- Visual browse, at the top of the navigation menu, allows readers to find articles of interest through photos.

- And more than 300 neighborhood pages categorize stories by areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties. These pages will include breaking news, prep sports, restaurant reviews and entries from the Homicide Report. 

The new site employs "responsive design," which means the page scales itself larger or smaller depending on how you're viewing it -- on desktop, tablet or phone. So no matter what device you're using to access latimes.com, you'll have the same reader experience.

"Mobile users were the primary impetus for driving this change," Times...

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