Science desk reorganized at LAT

Hard science coverage, which the L.A. Times has been gradually downgrading for years, takes a back seat to health coverage. Space reporter John Johnson moves to National rather than go with the other science writers to the features floor. Not too terribly long ago the LAT entertained notions of a weekly science section to rival the New York Times' Tuesday section, but that was another era — and star writer Robert Lee Hotz now writes the science column at the Wall Street Journal and K.C Cole is at USC and writing books.

Memo from Editor Russ Stanton:

Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 4:28 PM
To: yyeditall
Subject: New Health & Science group; Tami Dennis, editor


As part of the ongoing restructuring of our newsgathering operation, today we are combining the Health and Science reporting groups, which will be led by Tami Dennis, health & science editor, and Rosie Mestel, deputy health & science editor. The goal is to build better, more unified reporting teams around topics rather than sections. Doing this, we hope to leverage the skills of our talented staff and improve communication between people covering similar subjects by breaking down the walls between various departments, including news and features.

The combined talents of Health section reporters Shari Roan, Melissa Healy and Jeannine Stein and Science team writers Tom Maugh, Karen Kaplan and Mary Engel will allow us to produce an even more robust Health and Science report, both in print and online, for A1 and the home page, and for news sections as well as features. As part of this move, the Science group will be joining the Health team on the second floor. Tami will continue to report to Assistant Managing Editor Alice Short. (Science writer John Johnson, whose beat includes NASA, JPL and other space-related topics, will continue to report to Ashley Dunn, who was recently named deputy editor in National.)

The Health section under Tami's and Rosie's leadership has become one of our best-read feature sections and a staple of the Monday paper.

Tami has been editor of the Health section since 2005. She joined the paper in 1996 as a copy editor on the Metro desk, and has worked on the state, national and education desks before becoming deputy health editor in 1999. Before joining the Times, Tami worked at the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Journal and Detroit Sunday Journal, the Macon Telegraph and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

Rosie has been deputy health editor for the past three years. She moved to the United States from the U.K. in 1982 to attend graduate school at UC Davis. After earning her PhD in genetics, she did postdoctoral work at UCLA for several years before abandoning fruit flies and lab work for a career in science and medical journalism. Rosie wrote for Discover magazine and the British magazine New Scientist, and was a contributing editor for Health magazine. She came to The Times in 1998 as a staff writer in Health; in 2000, she became a medical writer on the science team.

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