L.A. Times dusts off an old column

Surprise, a bit of good news about the Los Angeles Times. It appears that, just ahead of the layoff reaper, one of the paper's most graceful and reportedly highly paid — but glaringly under-bylined — writers has found new life. Or renewed life, to be more precise. Peter H. King's piece today based on a drive along California highway 33 is labeled On California: Essays from the Golden State. King wrote hundreds of On California columns for six years in the 1990s; there was even a legal dust-up when King defected to the Sacramento Bee and tried to call his columns there by the same name. Well, eventually he returned to the LAT and has mostly been doing occasional long projects for the National desk. If he's back writing regularly about California, that could be a nice plus for readers bracing for a new wave of wholesale cuts in the paper's already depleted depth of reporting and comment.

Also at the LAT: Another big month for pageviews, says LATimes.com executive editor Meredith Artley. That widely criticized (in retrospect) story about Judge Alex Kozinski's website was the top story of June on her site. Politics blog Top of the Ticket almost was surpassed in page views by the celebrity gossip at The Dish Rag. Artley's latest memo also explains the role of the paper's blogs: "[They] showcase some of our best and brightest talent, opening up new communication channels with our readers, making the site more dynamic in key areas, and benefiting print readers when excerpts of these blogs and others are published in the newspaper." Whole memo after the jump:

We pulled in 115 million page views in June, just short of the all-time record of 120 million set in May. Page views are up 50% over this time last year, the biggest year-over-year traffic increase on record.

June was a great month for new blogs. Chris Gaither and his team launched their wonderful technology blog, breaking in to the Top 10 most popular list as newcomers. In D.C., Johanna Neuman and James Gerstenzang launched “Countdown to Crawford” halfway through the month – it’s already in the Top 10, one of the only blogs out there taking a daily look at the final days of the Bush administration. The Olympics blog is going gangbusters -- check out the great posts on the trials. This blog will be the center for our coverage during the games. Last but not least, Patrick Goldstein and the film team launched “The Big Picture” blog to lots of great buzz. These blogs showcase some of our best and brightest talent, opening up new communication channels with our readers, making the site more dynamic in key areas, and benefiting print readers when excerpts of these blogs and others are published in the newspaper.

Folks went all out on the overturning of the ban on gay marriage. Live blogging on L.A. Now, video vignettes, great photos and two informative interactive maps, one on Prop. 8 and one showing the rise in marriage licenses by county.

The California War Dead database continues to be a well-used feature on the site, nearing 500,000 page views and more than 350 touching reader comments.

The Lakers coverage continued to push Sports traffic numbers to new heights, with section traffic doubling the day after the finals. Great live blogging of the games, chats, a bevy of multimedia including video pieces from Bill Plaschke, and lots of fresh and historical photo galleries.

July is off to a good start with the launch of “Greenspace,” an environment blog from Geoff Mohan and team. Thinking about going for a dip as the weather warms up? Check the pools database first. Keep an eye out for more database projects in the coming weeks. Also in July, the homepage redesign project kicks off, with results coming in the fall. This project is the first step in making significant improvements to the entire site.

On to the lists….

Top Articles for June:

1. Alex Kozinski suspends L.A. obscenity trial after conceding his website had sexual images (Scott Glover)
2. Mega-mansions are L.A.’s really big show (Jessica Garrison)
3. Oliver Stone and ‘W.,’ a story of President Bush (John Horn)
4. Fourth day of triple digits sends crowds to L.A. pools, beaches (Tami Abdollah)
5. Packing in public: Gun owners tired of hiding their weapons embrace ‘open carry’ (Nicholas Riccardi)
6. Envisioning a world of $200-a-barrel oil (Martin Zimmerman)
7. Judge orders TMZ to remove sex tape of actor Verne Troyer (Harriet Ryan)
8. Lakers have a collapse for the ages (Mike Bresnahan)
9. Offshore oil drilling opponents are rethinking (Richard Simon and Bob Drogin)
10. Obama leads in battle for Latino vote (Peter Wallsten)

Top blogs:

1. Top of the Ticket -- 1,743,178 page views
2. The Dish Rag -- 1,437,462 (watch out Andy and Don, Elizabeth is coming to get you)
3. L.A. Land -- 652,605
4. Lakers Blog
5. Show Tracker
6. L.A. Now
7. Technology Blog (first month out, and in the top ten)
8. Gold Derby
9. Web Scout
10. Countdown to Crawford (launched June 17)

Also, a belated correction on the note from May, which excluded Dish Rag and Gold Derby from the list. They were at number 5 and 6, respectively.

Top Photo Galleries for June:

1. Celebrity and sports collide in L.A.
2. Universal Studios fire
3. Celebrities’ real names revealed (Denise Martin and Stephanie Lysaght)
4. Hollywood hunks before they were hot (Elizabeth Snead)
5. Celebrities by The Times
6. Celebrity shots
7. Midwest flooding
8. Top 9 cars women buy more than men
9. Hollywood’s unwedded bliss list (Elizabeth Snead)
10. R-rated firsts (Susan King)

Top video:

1. Dogs orphaned in China’s quake find a home - 132,239 streams - AP
2. LAPD goes green: Maya Sanchez reports - 112,375 streams - KTLA
3. Tsvangirai on Mugabe - AP
4. Local update: Moe the chimp escapes cage - KTLA
5. Amanda Beard heads to Omaha for her fourth Olympic swim - LAT
6. 17-year-old decapitated by Six Flags ride - AP
7. Australia marks Iraq withdraw with parade - AP
8. Evening update: USC student sentenced to time served in baby’s death - KTLA
9. Fires grip parts of California - AP
10. Bush pleased with war spending bill - AP

That’s it. Questions, comments and words of encouragement are always welcome.

More by Kevin Roderick:
Ralph Lawler of the Clippers and the age of Aquarius
Riding the Expo Line to USC 'just magical'
Last bastion of free parking? Loyola Marymount to charge students
Matt Kemp, Dodgers and Kings start big weekend the right way
LA Times writers revisit their '92 riots observations
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
LA Times writers revisit their '92 riots observations
Los Angeles more worldly since '92, LA Times 'more insular'
More recommended media coverage of the riots
Fiction does have a winner at LA Times Book Prizes
LA Times geography throws USC a curve

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