Andrew Blankstein has been a go-to reporter on the law enforcement beat for the Los Angeles Times for a long time. In all, he has been with the paper for 23 years (and more than 4,000 bylines of various kinds), per today's unusual but gracious note to the newsroom from top editors Davan Maharaj and Marc Duvoisin. Blankstein will be an on-air investigative reporter for NBC News based here.
Read the memo:
To the staff:
Andrew Blankstein was at a pick-your-own strawberry farm in Moorpark, enjoying a rare day off with his family.
Then his cellphone rang. It was a law enforcement source, calling with astonishing news: Michael Jackson had just died, apparently of a drug overdose.
Andrew stopped picking berries and called the city desk to break the news on latimes.com. The ensuing wall-to-wall coverage of the King of Pop’s untimely death was one of the biggest readership days in the history of our website; readers the world over came to us for the news. It was a tour-de-force of real-time reporting, and it was no accident that it all began with Andrew.
Being first and being right at the same time is one of the most difficult things in journalism, and Andrew has done it again and again on the biggest stories. The complete list of his scoops is way too long to reproduce here, but consider some of the highlights: The arrest of fugitive Boston mobster Whitey Bulger in a Santa Monica apartment. Crucial developments in the bloody pursuit and fiery death of ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. Important early details about the Asiana airliner crash in San Francisco. And just last week, the FBI’s rescue of teenager Hannah Anderson and the killing of her abductor in a remote Idaho wilderness.
Andrew’s work ethic is legendary. So is his open-hearted collegiality. His flair for real-time reporting of the news has helped makelatimes.com, and especially L.A. Now, must reads for anyone interested in crime, celebrity and their frequent intersections. He was an early adopter of Web journalism and a natural on radio and television.
Sadly, Andrew’s amazing run at The Times is coming to end. After 23 years and nearly 4,000 bylines (not including innumerable blog posts and his many contributions to other reporters’ work), he is leaving to take a job at NBC News as an on-air reporter focusing on West Coast investigations. In many ways, this is the culmination of his growing interest in broadcast news reporting.
It is impossible not to feel happy for someone who has contributed so much to The Times. Still, we will miss him, and we will feel his loss keenly.
Please join us in congratulating Andrew and thanking him for the pleasure of his company and his collegiality.
Davan and Marc
Blankstein tweets as @anblanx.