11 Burning Questions with an L.A. Times editor

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: 11 Burning Questions with an L.A. Times editor – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Photo Credit: John Corrigan

1) How did you first get involved at the L.A. Times?

I’ve been involved with the L.A. Times since 1999. I was hired as the night city editor and the business editor for the San Fernando Valley. I was a screenwriting major here at LMU, and when I graduated I couldn’t figure out how to become a screenwriter. So I ended up getting into a Master’s program at [CSU] Northridge in communications. From there, I managed to get an [unpaid] internship at the L.A. Times and some clips.

2) How did you transition from your old position as business editor to your current post?

The former [assistant managing editor] had left the organization. The editor, Davan Maharaj, approached me to take it over. I had been associated with some quality journalism projects – I edited our Wal-Mart series that won the Pulitzer in 2004. … [Maharaj] was aware of my arts background and thought it would be a good fit.

3) As assistant managing editor for arts & entertainment, what is your goal for the section?

My goal is to have the best arts & entertainment section in the country. We live in the entertainment capital of the world, and we have special access to filmmakers, to actors, to producers. What I want to have is both print and online content people really want to read that is useful, compelling [and] thought-provoking.

4) What do you think arts & entertainment can do that is special?

Especially in this era of the Internet and instant news, if you look at the hard news headlines, a lot of the time the stories on the front page or in the news sections people have some familiarity with. … Arts & entertainment has the unique position where most of the stories on our cover, people may not have a familiarity with.

5) How do you feel your work in business sections informs your current work?

In business in particular, you get a discipline of looking beyond what people say to [the] numbers and information. … When you are covering the showbusiness elements of the entertainment industry, it does force a certain mindset to try to find facts to go with the words — to look a little deeper and harder for information.

6) Do you feel your screenwriting major background makes you more drawn to film in arts & entertainment?

Screenwriting was really helpful [to me] in being a journalist. … When you’re writing about features or events, you have to think [about] storyline, the plot and characterization. When you’re writing about people, you want those people to come to life.

7) Did you write for the Loyolan back in your LMU days?

I did indeed. I remember covering Bobby Seale, the Black Panther who came to campus … that was on Page 1 of the Loyolan. And I believe my first assignment [was about how] at the time, people would park on campus and their windshields were leafleted with ads from a term paper research company.

8) We featured a debate (“How real is too real?” in the Sept. 20. Loyolan) about the photo of the Libyan ambassador that ran on the front page of the L.A. Times. Can you speak at all to the decision making behind that?

I really can’t. I was not directly involved in that decision.

9) You sit on the LMU Magazine advisory board. What do you do in that role?

We meet about four times a year to review the magazine and make suggestions. … One of the big audiences is alumni, and so I thought pictures of what’s going on on-campus now, that’s important – more stories to just bring you back to campus.

10) What do you hope to bring in your speech to the Loyolan staff? [Editor’s note: Corrigan spoke at the Loyolan’s staff meeting last Monday.]

To me, journalism is really a wonderful pursuit. … Years ago, reporting was very strict: not opinion … only a few people could be commentators or have opinions. Increasingly, though, with so much news out there … there is a chance for analytical writing, for opinion writing. … There’s something about writing that is strong.

11) If you boiled your life down to a headline, what do you think it would be?

“Making the most out of life.”


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