Pete King rejoining the LA Times California staff

latimes-building-from-above.jpgLA Observed file photo.

Now this is interesting. Peter H. King, the former LA Times city editor, California columnist and star roving reporter, left the paper in 2009 as a not-happy camper to become media director in Oakland for the University of California Office of the President. I guess he's ready to come back to journalism, and the newly California-centric Times under publisher Austin Beutner is ready to have him back. He will return to the paper as a general assignment reporter, covering California and the West, per a message going around UC circles. I assume he will remain based in Northern California, where his wife, Maura Dolan, covers legal affairs and the California Supreme Court for the LA Times.

It's at least the second time King has returned to the Times. He left the LAT sometime in the late 1990s to be a columnist for the McClatchy newspapers in Northern California, but that didn't last. The LA Times under Beutner has shown a willingness to bring back staffers who departed during the bad Tribune years in the interest of improving the California report. Bob Sipchen, a writer, editor and columnist who left in 2007 to be communications director of the Sierra Club and editor of the group's magazine, returned last year to guide the new California section.

lat-front-beutner.jpgSpeaking of Beutner and California, the Times last night launched a new conversation series at USC with the publisher talking to Gov. Jerry Brown about the drought. Some eyebrows went up about the interview being conducted by Beutner instead of a Times journalist. But Beutner is increasingly being put forth to the public as a high profile name at the Times. He certainly keeps getting mentioned in the paper's own headlines, including in coverage of the Brown talk. Brown talking about the drought isn't really a news-making event, but the event got lots of coverage in the Times — including a triple-byline story in print, an analysis by columnist Cathleen Decker, and full-press advance and live coverage online. The Times used the occasion to announce another in its growing roster of newsletters, Water and Power, covering the drought. Beutner is a big internal proponent of these sponsored newsletters as a new revenue source.

In case you missed that the Brown-Beutner conversation was clearly a big push by the Times to raise its profile as a California player, it was hard to miss the point on Twitter. Editor Davan Maharaj, #2 Marc Duvoisin and what must have been at least a dozen other newsroom staffers were tweeting about the proceedings as if it were a real news event.

Maharaj took to Twitter four times to support the boss:

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