John Broder is returning to the Washington bureau of the New York Times, and will be replaced as Los Angeles bureau chief this summer by Jennifer Steinhauer. "One of the newspaper's best reporters: a permanently raised eyebrow to authority, an ebullient productivity that makes her a force of nature on a beat, and a piquant curiosity about everything from politics to interest rates to shoes. All of which will make her an ideal Los Angeles bureau chief," reads the internal memo, which follows. Her husband—publishing beat reporter Ed Wyatt—is coming west to cover television and to make sure "that James Frey never has lunch in Los Angeles again." That's a joke, also in the memos. Jim Rutenberg goes to the Washington bureau to cover the White House, and theater writer Jesse McKinley heads to San Francisco. If you are keeping score, the Washington moves are partly in response to former L.A. bureau chief Todd Purdum jumping to Vanity Fair.
Washington bureau chief Phil Taubman and national editor Suzanne Daley announce the news:
Taubman on Washington:
To the Newsroom:
I'm pleased to let you know that the first wave of cavalry reinforcements promised by Bill and Jill are now visible on the horizon. Two of the paper's top reporters, Jim Rutenberg and John Broder, are headed this way.
Jim will arrive first -- in early Spring -- to cover the White House. Jim is coming off a distinguished run as City Hall bureau chief. Before that he served as an honorary member of the bureau during the 2004 campaign, turning in a brilliant performance as the campaign media reporter. That assignment grew out of Jim's earlier work as a media/television reporter. As you all know, he is an aggressive, intuitive reporter with a knack for unearthing information that politicians, government agencies and corporations would prefer never come to light. He's also great company.
John is giving up the sunshine and Arnold Schwarzenegger to return to the bureau over the summer to cover politics and to lend a hand during big news events with ledealls and Q-heds. John can do it all. He knows Washington, he knows politics, domestic policy, lobbying, national security. And he has a gift for silky prose and astute analysis. Plus he's one of the nicest people at the paper. Getting John back in the bureau, if I can shift to a different analogy, is like adding Derek Jeter to the team.
And from Daley, about the Los Angeles and San Francisco bureaus.
To the Newsroom:
JENNIFER STEINHAUER TO HEAD LOS ANGELES BUREAU
Years ago, when she was already running the newsroom as a clerk, Jennifer Steinhauer received an evaluation that described her as "sassy." She was furious, believing it undermined her seriousness and was sexist. All quite possibly true, and yet the word perfectly summarized many of the qualities that have made her one of the newspaper's best reporters: a permanently raised eyebrow to authority, an ebullient productivity that makes her a force of nature on a beat, and a piquant curiosity about everything from politics to interest rates to shoes. All of which will make her an ideal Los Angeles bureau chief, beginning this summer.
Being a national correspondent seems to be one of the few tasks Jennifer has yet to take on here. She began as a clerk and a trainee in the paper's much-missed writing program, and wrote a memorable (unbylined) journal from Boring, Md., that won an early greenie from Al. She spent time in the Washington bureau, Bizday, and Styles before a memorable stint covering Giuliani and Bloomberg as City Hall bureau chief, one of the most demanding jobs at the paper. She quickly became a master of letting a single brushstroke paint a larger portrait, as in this telling line from a profile of Mayor Giuliani a week after 9/11: "All this attention to the man whose press aides were needling reporters a month ago to write a few lines on his latest health care initiative during a news conference in a sporting goods store."
It's no wonder that Metro has been so reluctant to let her free from her current stint combining backfielding with coverage of the city's economics. And we are delighted that she will bring her particular style - with a sassiness undimmed by the passage of a few years - to our coverage of California, for which she will be a perfect match.
JESSE McKINLEY LEAVES BROADWAY FOR SAN FRANCISCO
All great Broadway runs come to an end, and the best of them go on the road. So we are happy to report that Culture's very own Rumtumtugger, Jesse McKinley, is bringing the curtain down on his six-year run on the theater beat to become the San Francisco bureau chief for The New York Times. It is, in many ways, a natural move for Jesse, who spent a year stringing for Tim Golden in the S.F. bureau back in the mid-90s.
Of course, fog-shrouded mornings have been a part of Jesse's career at The Times since he started as a 18-year-old copyboy in 1988 - never more so than during the five years he spent compiling the A2 News Summary six nights a week. From that exalted position (and with a freshly-minted diploma from NYU), he moved to City Weekly as a news assistant, where he wrote the FYI column for two years (succeeding, yep, Jennifer Steinhauer), then went west to SF (see above), gathered string in New York for Joan Nassivera at City, and finally arrived in the culture department in 2000 as a reporter who quickly came to dominate, completely, the coverage of Broadway and off-Broadway theater in New York City.
As his cube-mate David Carr says, "Jesse defines beat excellence. He's good with the cheery phone call at the start of the day, and brilliant with the cock of the gun at the end." He is also a writer of uncommon grace and fluidity, a terrific colleague and a real force for fine, old-fashioned newspaper goodness. We send him west with pride and a heavy heart.
ED WYATT GOES HOLLYWOOD
But all is not woe for the culture department: Ed Wyatt, intrepid reporter on the publishing beat, is also moving to the California Republic, as a television beat reporter in the Los Angeles bureau. (He'll also work a sideline in general-assignment west coast culture reporting, making sure that James Frey never has lunch in Los Angeles again.)
Ed brings to this new task not just his 11 years of experience here at The Times covering business, education, metro, politics and publishing, but also fond memories of the television he entered the 21st century with, the one with the manually operated channel dial. He has, however, used his publishing contacts to request galleys of Bill Carter's book, "Desperate Networks," due out in May, and as anyone involved in the publishing industry can tell you, he is a very quick study.
A 1984 graduate of Baylor (he headed north to Syracuse and took an MBA back to Texas three years later), he started his career at Dow Jones and Barron's before coming to BizDay as part of the great Geddes hiring spree of '95.
And as the ads might say, he got his wife through The New York Times. We toast them both from the paper's imaginary regular table at Dan Tana's.