Reporters Hayley Smith, Gregory Yee and Ian James added to California coverage team

Portraits of Hayley Smith, Gregory Yee and Ian James
From left, Hayley Smith works with L.A. Now and the breaking news team, Gregory Yee is Metro’s night reporter, and Ian James is covering water and climate change in California and the West.

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

Please join me in welcoming our new Metro staffers.

Hayley Smith has joined Metro’s L.A. Now desk, covering trending topics and breaking news.

She worked as an intern on The Times’ COVID-19 project “The Pandemic’s Toll: Lives Lost in California,” in partnership with the Pulitzer Center and USC, before joining L.A. Now. Smith’s first assignments on the breaking news desk were literally a trial by fire, as she covered the Bobcat fire that burned in the Angeles National Forest for more than two months. She has become a center of our breaking news coverage, in terms of live coverage and building quick enterprise off the news. Smith has been a major contributor to our coverage of the coronavirus and crime, as well as jumping in to help with transportation, science, demographics and much more. She is building a focus on fires and the ways climate change is altering our state.

Smith worked in New York before moving to California. Her writing has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, HuffPost and other outlets. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.


Gregory Yee is Metro’s new night reporter. Yee grew up in the Los Angeles area and graduated from UC Irvine in 2012.

He worked for a small paper in northwestern New Mexico for a year before joining the Long Beach Press-Telegram in 2013, where he covered crime for three years. He’s excited to be back in his native Southern California after spending five years in Charleston, S.C., where he covered criminal justice for the Post and Courier and immersed himself in Southern culture.

Yee has a passion for reporting breaking news. He is a collaborator whose sharp news judgment and ability to juggle multiple stories have been on display since he started the job several weeks ago.

Ian James has joined The Times as a reporter focusing on water and climate change in California and the West. He previously worked for three years at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, where he was the lead environment reporter covering water, climate change and the environment.

His work has included an investigation of toxic pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and a series examining the consequences of groundwater depletion in farming communities in the western U.S. and around the world. He has reported extensively on water in the American West, including stories about the shrinking flow of the Colorado River and how large corporate farms are draining desert aquifers in Arizona. Before joining the Republic in 2018, James worked for five years for the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, where he developed a specialty in environmental reporting. With a grant from the Pulitzer Center, he traveled to India, Peru and Morocco to report on some of world’s hot spots of groundwater depletion. This series, co-produced with USA Today, also featured a documentary.

James has won a Sigma Delta Chi Award in Public Service Journalism, a National Headliner Award in Environmental Writing, a Science in Society Journalism Award, the New America Award and the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism. This year he and colleagues at the Arizona Republic were awarded the U.S. Water Prize for Outstanding Journalism for their reporting in Arizona.