Ask a Reporter: Erika Smith and Ben Oreskes on covering California

Ask a Reporter is the L.A. Times' weekly live chat with a reporter.
(Los Angeles Times)

Columnist Erika Smith and reporter Ben Oreskes will be live on video Tuesday to answer your questions about their work writing about California.

Erika and Ben will be live on Twitter and Facebook to answer your questions about their work, what it’s like to report on California’s biggest issues like social justice and homelessness, and how their jobs have changed with the coronavirus pandemic.

Visit our Twitter profile and Facebook page to share your questions ahead of time and to sign up to receive an alert when the video begins. You may also leave your questions for Erika and Ben in the comments at the bottom of this article.

Here are some recent columns by Erika:

With the hangings of Black men Malcolm Harsch and Robert Fuller, law enforcement has been inexcusably slow to investigate. ‘No evidence’ is no excuse.

“Defund the police” is the mantra, but California’s budget is likely to shift dozens of sworn officers to the Bureau of Cannabis Control — and make way for more.


As we rush into a “cashless” society to slow the coronavirus, know that there are trade-offs. Businesses could make existing racial inequities worse.

Leilah Franklin and Chandler Kennedy don’t call themselves ‘activists.’ But life can foist labels on people, and sometimes those labels come to fit.

Here are some recent articles by Ben:

At 76, Judge David Carter knows he shouldn’t be on skid row exposing himself to the coronavirus. But he wants more for L.A.'s homeless people.

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent to curb homelessness, the number of people without a home in Los Angeles grew for the fifth time in the past six years, officials announced Friday.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic is slashing statewide tax revenues, officials Tuesday unveiled an $800-million plan to house Los Angeles County’s homeless people who are most vulnerable to the disease caused by the virus.