Los Angeles Times political writer Michael Finnegan has been assigned to cover new mayor Eric Garcetti and his agenda. Per a memo from the Times' California editor, Ashley Dunn, Finnegan is expected to "bring his sharp reporting and analytical skills to the new administration." A flurry of other Metro staff moves includes more firepower at the county Hall of Administration — with veteran politics reporter Seema Mehta focused on the Board of Supervisors and county politics — and the shift of James Rainey to cover a new beat with the charge to "explore clout, influence and the people who wield both." MTA and City Hall transportation coverage is now in the hands of second-year Metpro intern Laura J. Nelson, per the memo.
Interesting moves. Dunn is known to want to ramp up City Hall and county coverage — and these are some veteran newsroom names. The county beat has always been a tough sell to Times reporters, who tend to see it as less interesting than City Hall and less likely to get them on page one, and a tough sell also to editors — who habitually pull off county reporters to work on other projects. With these moves, the Times has two reporters focused mainly on the Supes and Hall of Administration, plus Garrett Therolf on the Department of Child and Family Services, Anna Gorman on county health, Robert Faturechi covering the Sheriff's department and Jack Leonard on the DA beat. That's deeper than in recent years.
Read the memo below.
To: The Staff
From: Ashley Dunn, Assistant Managing Editor
I’m pleased to announce that some of The Times’ most talented journalists are taking on new assignments that will strengthen our local coverage.
James Rainey -- California Clout
As a veteran political writer, columnist and media critic, Jim Rainey is uniquely equipped to explore clout, influence and the people who wield both. Jim will find stories in Southern California’s political arena, but will also write about clout where he finds it: in Hollywood as well as the worlds of sports, academia, philanthropy and business. Sometimes, these worlds will come together in a single story, as in his recent piece on Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Abby Sewell – L.A. County Government
Abby Sewell is now our county government reporter. She was part of the team that uncovered abuses in Southeast L.A. local governments, and she is skilled at digging into government records and databases. Most recently, she’s been covering the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant as well as the financial problems facing Southern California cities.
Seema Mehta – L.A. County Politics
Seema Mehta, who has covered two presidential elections and two California governor’s races, will use the downtime in the election cycle to focus on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Seema will explore the coming political transition at the top of county government as longtime supervisors are termed out. She will also write on enterprise topics related to state and county government. She will work closely with county government reporter Abby Sewell.
Michael Finnegan – Mayor
All eyes are on Eric Garcetti and his new administration. Michael Finnegan, our veteran political reporter, will chronicle Garcetti and his agenda. Michael wrote probing, insightful pieces during the mayoral election, and we expect him to bring his sharp reporting and analytical skills to the new administration. Michael will work closely with City Hall reporters Catherine Saillant and David Zahniser, who will continue his accountability reporting while coordinating our City Hall coverage.
Laura Nelson – Transportation
Metpro Laura Nelson is now our main reporter covering the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Caltrans. The Metro system is in the midst of a rail building boom, and recent polls show traffic continues to be a major concern of Angelenos, so Laura will have her hands full. She will focus on how people commute and will use data to assess the effectiveness of transportation systems and policies. She will work closely with transportation reporter Dan Weikel.
Finnegan recently became active on Twitter. Not mentioned in the memo is that City Hall reporter Kate Linthicum is moving over to concentrate on immigration stories. And while we're at it, here's a Zocalo In the Green Room feature on Nelson.
Minor edits here and there