Brenda Rodriguez, Marc Bernardin and Sara Rodman in Los Angeles Times photo.
The Los Angeles Times announced today some of the fruits of the hiring binge that has followed the recent buyouts of veteran staffers. Also disclosed are some reassignments on the arts and entertainment floor of the newsroom to plug in for people who left. The top-level news seems to be a new film editor and a new TV editor from outside, arts and entertainment editor Laurie Ochoa adding the books coverage to her portfolio, a promoted Company Town editor and new reporting lines that as editor Davan Maharaj takes on his new publisher duties.
The new hires are journalists of color, at least per the photo on the Times' Readers' Representative page that reports the news. Adding to the racial and ethnic diversity of the staff has been part of the agenda of the hiring that has followed last year's buyouts.
Here is today's memo from Maharaj:
From: "Maharaj, Davan"
Date: March 10, 2016 at 7:17:42 AM PST
Subject: New staffing for Entertainment team
We’ve got some exciting news in Calendar: Brenda Rodriguez is joining us as an arts and entertainment editor, Marc Bernardin is our new film editor and Sarah Rodman is coming aboard as our new TV editor. Richard Verrier is being promoted to Company Town editor and Rich Nordwind is our new Sunday Calendar editor. Greg Braxton will become deputy TV editor, and arts and entertainment editor Laurie Ochoa will take on an expanded portfolio that includes overseeing Books coverage.
The new editors will report to assistant managing editor John Corrigan, who will also be taking on added responsibilities with our News Hub and in building our Company Town team that covers the entertainment industry. John will report to managing editor Larry Ingrassia, as I take on new duties of my own as editor and publisher.
Brenda Rodriguez – Arts & Entertainment Editor
Brenda, who starts this week, will lead our breaking news coverage across entertainment and help build our online readership with fresh new content. She has spent the last decade of her career covering entertainment, initially as a showbiz reporter and deputy film editor at People and then as the executive editor of entertainment websites Wonderwall.com and Moviefone.com. Before that, she worked as a reporter at the Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News.
Before moving to L.A. to cover entertainment, Rodriguez spent six years at the Dallas Morning News, working her way up from night police reporter to Texas-Mexico border bureau chief. Among the stories she has covered: the killing of women in Ciudad Juárez, the plight of undocumented immigrants, drug cartel crimes and a priest accused of rape and murder. She also wrote a column for the newspaper’s Texas Southwest section on border life.
During her six years at People, Rodriguez helped direct breaking news coverage in a 24/7 news cycle and served as an online editor. She spearheaded coverage of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger, and profiled major entertainment figures such as Matthew McConaughey, Tyra Banks, Tina Fey and Rachel McAdams for the magazine. She was also responsible for overseeing red carpet and awards season coverage.
As editor of Wonderwall.com and later of Moviefone.com, she managed editorial teams that greatly expanded readership with a combination of speed and creative presentation in reporting entertainment news. She also launched and produced several online video series focusing on entertainment and fashion for Wonderwall.com.
She started her career at the San Antonio Express-News, where she reported a five-part series on the spread of HIV inside state prison systems. The series prompted the Texas Board of Criminal Justice to review their prison system policies on AIDS.
With Brenda coming aboard, Laurie will be able to devote more of her talent to working with our arts and culture report, including helping to oversee our critics. Carolyn Kellogg, our terrific books editor, will report to Laurie.
Marc Bernardin – Film Editor
Marc, who started Monday, comes to us with deep experience in entertainment and digital journalism. He has held senior editing positions with the Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly, and more recently he oversaw the online entertainment vertical for Playboy.com.
He is especially well-versed in film. At EW, he coordinated the film critics, edited the seasonal Movie Preview issues, and worked on cover stories, profiles and business pieces.
A seasoned writer as well as an editor, Marc has freelanced for outlets including GQ, Wired, Details, Vulture and Empire. He also knows the industry from the inside, doing a tour of duty as a staff writer for the Syfy Channel’s “Alphas” series in 2011.
Marc lives deep in the San Fernando Valley — not quite Kardashian Country, but close — with his wife Sue and children Sophie and Luc. When he's not working, he enjoys living the 14-year-old boy dream: writing comic books, playing video games, and getting paid to lose himself at the movies. He also sat in Captain Kirk’s chair once, and is inordinately proud of that.
Sarah Rodman – TV Editor
Sarah comes to us after 10 years at the Boston Globe, where she has been a TV and pop music critic.
Sarah, a longtime board member of the TV Critics Assn., is an astute observer of television – and an avid fan. Her tastes range from “Your Show of Shows” (look that one up) to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Game of Thrones.”
While most of her background is in criticism, Sarah played a key role in setting coverage priorities at the Globe and also helped develop a better system of tracking upcoming TV premieres and other events for the Globe Arts team to ensure the right shows and events get covered. Sarah is excited to join the TV team at The Times and hopes to take advantage of our access for more behind-the-scenes looks at how shows get made, raise our profile in the growing TV conversation and find fun and substantive ways to expand our coverage of unscripted TV and sports (she’s a Patriots fan).
When she’s not working, Sarah likes to do what she does while she’s working, watch TV, go to concerts and the theatre. She joins us next month and will be assisted by Greg, a lifelong Angeleno who began working as a reporter at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner even before his graduation from California State University at Northridge.
Greg Braxton – Deputy TV Editor
Greg came to The Times in 1982, working in the suburban and San Fernando Valley editions before joining Calendar in 1992, covering television for most of that time. He was a member of the reporting teams that won Pulitzers for coverage of the 1992 L.A. riots and the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge quake. Greg will continue to report TV stories, but his knowledge and experience will allow him to provide critical backup and editing support to Sarah as she launches into her new position.
Richard Verrier – Company Town Editor
We’re also pleased to announce that Richard Verrier will become the new Company Town editor.
Richard has been leading the team on an interim basis since late last year, skillfully guiding the group through one big breaking news story after another.
In this role, Richard has drawn on his own extensive reporting experience. Richard is known for telling the big stories that become entertainment industry must-reads. He has written authoritatively about deaths and accidents on film and TV sets, film location tax credit shenanigans, and how some of those much-touted deals between Hollywood and Chinese companies have turned to dust.
Richard has also covered the “below-the-line” workers who may not make the red carpet, but keep the entertainment industry running, as well as runaway production.
Richard, who joined The Times in 2001, formerly worked at the Orlando Sentinel and the St. Petersburg Times. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Richard Nordwind – Sunday Calendar Editor
Rich Nordwind, a Calendar stalwart for 18 years, has been leading the film team since 2013. In that role, he has ensured that our coverage has been among the very best – spotting the trends, angles and backstage stories that bring Hollywood’s glamour business to life as well as being at the forefront of our comprehensive awards coverage. Most recently, he oversaw the expansion of our Friday Calendar movies section, adding new features, expanded reviews and other content to make the package more engaging.
With Marc coming on board as film editor, Rich will now turn his sights on our Sunday Calendar and Arts & Books sections, two amazing showcases for Arts & Entertainment journalism. Before his recent stint as film editor, Rich was Daily Calendar editor for six years, working with reporters, critics and editors in all our coverage areas to produce a lively daily report.
Rich is well known throughout The Times for his great ideas and collegiality, two key assets as he looks to make the Sunday sections engaging and thoughtful by drawing on our best writing, photography and graphics.
Please join me in congratulating everyone on their new and expanded roles.