Laura J. Nelson takes on a new role as Metro enterprise and investigative reporter

Portrait of Laura J. Nelson
Laura J. Nelson will work closely with a second rapid-response reporter as well as teams across the Metro section.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The following announcement was sent on behalf of Deputy Managing Editor Shelby Grad.

Laura J. Nelson has taken on the new role of rapid-response enterprise/investigative reporter.

In the thick of the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson departed the transportation beat to help launch a new effort in Metro to bring investigative muscle and additional accountability to the big stories of the day.

Often working with Maya Lau and other reporters from L.A. Now and other teams, Nelson jumped into some of the hottest stories on the local and national agenda, with great results. She broke a series of stories about deteriorating conditions at Southern California postal facilities and how that was affecting both commerce and mail-in voting. She also produced exposes about the varied, sometimes questionable ways that the country handled mail ballots.


From there, she shifted to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. She and others produced several investigations into inequities in distribution while also exposing the sophisticated pipeline that the rich used to gain early access to the shots.

Before the pandemic, Nelson distinguished herself as The Times’ transportation guru, chronicling with depth and savvy L.A.’s slow embrace of a world in which the car might not be quite as dominant. Nelson produced some agenda-setting investigations on the beat, including a series of stories about falling transit ridership even as Metro was adding many new lines, and the grim state of the county’s buses — which gave voice to riders — and did some crusading reporting on pedestrian and cyclist deaths that sparked calls for changes in laws.

Nelson will work closely with a second rapid-response reporter as well as partnering with various teams across Metro, including L.A. Now.