Times goes north for consumer columnist

LazarusDavid Lazarus is joining the L.A. Times in August to write a Business section column. Let's hope the San Francisco Chronicle, his current employer, knew before the house ad popped up today on LATimes.com, under the headline He's Got Your Back. Text: "The playing field isn't always level. Business columnist David Lazarus will make sure consumers get a fair shake." This year SF Weekly proclaimed Lazarus that city's best newspaper columnist:

Nobody wields a sharper scalpel than Lazarus when it comes to dissecting the doublespeak and deceptive practices of big business. His thrice weekly column serves as a consumer tip sheet, alerting readers when banks gouge customers through hidden debit-card fees or credit-card companies sneak extra charges onto monthly bills. Not long ago, with vintage Lazarusian acuity, he skewered an insurance trade group after it floated a self-serving proposal to expand U.S. health care coverage. "What it would do," he wrote of the plan, "is bring millions of new customers to the insurance industry and leave taxpayers holding the bag. ... " With the Chron's business section too often serving as a bulletin board for industry press releases, Lazarus brings a healthy dose of skepticism to the notion that corporate America knows best.

He's a Crossroads kid. Memo from Business Editor Davan Maharaj after the jump.

After David Lazarus reported how banks were routinely handing out inactive account numbers to new customers, legislators passed a law requiring financial institutions to wait at least three years before an account number is reused. When he revealed that a group affiliated with Gov. Schwarzenegger was outsourcing signature verification for ballot initiatives to India, lawmakers stopped the sending of California voter information overseas. Earlier this month, David reported that Blue Cross will soon start billing almost a million Californians just to receive their bills. In response, state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said he will introduce legislation outlawing the practice.

David, a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, is bringing his column to The Times' Business section. His role at The Times will be to stick up for readers and to help them understand business and economic trends. He will also offer a fresh perspective on the news of the day. Bringing David on board reflects the enhancing of news-you-can-use and consumer coverage in the Business section. His column will be one more reason for people who might not ordinarily turn to the section to become regular readers.

David is a two-time winner of the National Headliner Award, and, among other honors, has been named Journalist of the Year by both the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists and the Consumer Federation of California.

David grew up in Southern California and attended Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and lived overseas for 12 years, including a two-year stint in Bloomberg's Tokyo bureau. He has written for Fortune, the International Herald Tribune, National Geographic and numerous other publications. David, his wife Ikuko, and their son Isaac, will move down at the end of the month. Ikuko is a free-lance journalist and career counselor, who no doubt advised him to make the right choice.

Here are the day's earlier media moves.

Edited post


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