Seeing stars at the LAT

Slate's Jack Shafer identifies the Los Angeles Times newsroom stars he says are vulnerable to poaching by other media outlets if the Tribune-induced fear and loathing doesn't settle down soon.

Two of the biggest stars to depart the paper in 2006 were Baghdad veteran Alissa J. Rubin, who has joined the New York Times, and correspondent John Daniszewski, who is now the Associated Press' foreign editor....

Who are the paper's most poachable people? Scroll this staff box and tell me it isn't packed with them.

Pulitzer Prizes are one marker of talent, and many have gone to current Los Angeles Times journalists: Dan Neil for his automobile column; Carolyn Cole and Don Bartletti for feature photography; Kevin Sack (shared) for his defense reporting; David Willman for his FDA investigations; and, barely out of knee-socks, Charles Ornstein helped the paper's King/Drew series win a public-service Pulitzer.

Reporter T. Christian Miller can do it all—wars (large or small), presidential campaigns, and investigations. Political reporter Ronald Brownstein could write his own ticket at any magazine, newspaper, or network. Legal-affairs reporter Henry Weinstein is widely respected for his work, but he also deserves marks for talking back to management during the Staples scandal and speaking critically about the Tribune Co. during the recent crisis.

Any newspaper that's serious about Washington coverage covets Tom Hamburger, Peter Wallsten, and Bob Drogin. Peter G. Gosselin routinely excavates unique economic news and Editorial Page Editor Andrés Martinez inspires worship wherever he goes. Roving reporter Stephanie Simon writes great stuff from the heartland and Kim Murphy excels wherever she goes. The paper's architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, who once freelanced for Slate, is among the nation's best.

Veteran Times watcher Marc Cooper tells me great things about "Points West" columnist Steve Lopez, reporters Scott Glover and Matt Lait, Mexico City bureau chief Hector Tobar, and others. Slate's Bryan Curtis, a stingy man when it comes to praise, calls sports columnist T.J. Simers wildly entertaining.

The poaching may have already begun. Recently, two Los Angeles Times reporters mentioned above nearly left the paper: After a see-sawing drama, T. Christian Miller finally rejected the aggressive romancing of the New York Times, and Peter Wallsten almost moved to the Washington Post.

Rubin and Ellen Barry were clearly NYT poaches (and Miller nearly so), but there have also been other recent painful departures: Tim Brown to Yahoo, Rick Wartzman and John Balzar come to mind.

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
Why the LA Times' new theater column needs a new name
Helping in Houston, new lion cubs, Garcetti's back
Memo: New LA Times publisher drops web widget
Warren Olney leaving KCRW's radio lineup
LA Times purge 'capped a month of newsroom turmoil'
As the L.A. Times turns ...


LA Observed on Twitter