Read the memo

New local news editors named at the LA Times

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Today's memo from the LA Times' Shelby Grad announces a shake-up of the editing team following Grad's promotion last month from city editor to assistant managing editor for California news.

Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
To: yyeditall
Subject: Message from Shelby Grad re: new Metro leadership team

To the staff:

I'm pleased to announce the new leadership team for Metro. This deeply talented and experienced group will help elevate our coverage of L.A. and Southern California and further strengthen our accountability journalism.

Mary Ann Meek will be my chief deputy and will run the department in my absence. Mary Ann is one of the most trusted editors in the newsroom and is often called on to oversee Page One (including on the day Osama bin Laden was killed). Before coming to Metro, she worked for years on the National desk, helping run coverage of the Branch Davidian standoff, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and numerous presidential elections.

She is a skilled line editor and a superb manager. She will lead an effort to improve the flow of Page One stories by identifying and assessing A1 candidates earlier. Mary Ann will also manage the daily budget and backread many of our A1 and AA1 stories, and she has graciously agreed to continue helping with administration and scheduling.

Matt Lait is our new city editor. He will oversee coverage of the government institutions at the heart of our watchdog journalism: city and county government, crime and courts, education, public health and transportation. Matt will supervise all coverage from these pods, with a special emphasis on producing more accountability journalism.

Matt is uniquely qualified for this mission. He has been at the center of some of The Times' biggest stories, including the Rampart police scandal, as a reporter, and our most recent investigations into LAPD crime statistics, the clergy abuse coverup, jail violence and prescription drugs, as an editor. He works with our legal counsel to expand public access to government documents. Supporting Matt are three highly skilled and seasoned editors: City-county editor Rich Connell and his deputy Bill Nottingham, who have steered government coverage toward data-driven accountability stories, and education editor Beth Shuster, who has led groundbreaking projects on teacher performance and teacher discipline within LAUSD.

Drex Heikes is our new projects editor. He will run a project team and will shepherd our most ambitious enterprise and narrative stories. Drex is a born storyteller, a gifted manuscript editor and an investigative firebrand. He served as editor-in-chief of Los Angeles Times Magazine for seven years, was foreign affairs editor in The Times' Washington bureau and marshaled the paper's coverage of 9/11 from New York. As deputy managing editor of the Las Vegas Sun, he directed coverage that won the 2009 Pulitzer public service gold medal for exposing the high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip.

Brandi Grissom is our deputy projects editor. She comes to us from the Texas Tribune, where she was managing editor and an award-winning reporter. Brandi has a great eye for investigative stories, and she's expert at guiding ambitious, truly multi-media projects. She and Drex will bring a collaborative spirit to what can sometimes feel like lonely work.

They will have a key ally in Data Editor Doug Smith, whose gift for making numbers meaningful has been at the heart of some of our best projects. Doug will work closely with the rest of the Metro editing team to help conceive and shape stories.

Rounding out the Metro leadership are two top-flight editors who will continue in their important roles: Linda Rogers, state government and politics editor, and Steve Clow, state editor.

Metro editors will meet regularly to talk about projects, measure their progress, iron out problems and get these ambitious stories to our readers more quickly.

Please join me in congratulating, and supporting, the new leadership team.


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