Harriet Ryan joining California section

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Here’s an excerpt from California Editor David Lauter’s memo about the former senior correspondent for

Harriet Ryan joins The Times today as the first member of what will become a team covering one of our region’s principal industries -- the manufacture and exploitation of fame and celebrity. More about the team in a bit, but let’s first focus on Harriet. For eight years, Harriet was the senior correspondent for During that time, she covered some of the highest-profile trials of the decade – Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Scott Peterson – and dug deep into the collapse of the justice system in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to being a careful reporter and graceful writer, Harriet understands how to take her journalism across different platforms to reach new audiences. She is comfortable on camera. She developed a range of multimedia applications to accompany her stories. And she is the author of the book “Murder in Room 103: The Death of an American Student in Korea – and the Investigators’ Search for the Truth,” which was published in 2006.


She started her journalism career at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey after graduating from Columbia University with a BA in English.

In her new job, Harriet will focus on the famous – and infamous – people who populate our local courts. This will put her in position to cover some of the premiere local stories of our area on a subject, the ‘celebrity industrial complex,’ that we have not always covered as consistently as we should. Over the next few weeks, the team that will cover that larger story – one of our first Topics teams – will begin to take shape with more reporters and an editor to guide them. They will be tasked with telling the story of fame and wealth in Southern California. The team will involve editors and reporters from several parts of the paper and website. ...Harriet will report to Matt Lait and will be sitting over near Andrew Blankstein. Please welcome her.