Monday, February 11, 2008

February 11, 2008 News


Carol Stevenson generously passed on her thorough and informative notes from a media breakfast with some healthcare reporters, and I'm excerpting them here:

Lisa Girion, a Los Angeles Times business reporter

Lisa Girion is a Los Angeles Times business reporter who covers primarily health insurance and some hospital-related news. These days the business section is very consumer-oriented, she said. Lisa is looking for stories that address the relationship between consumers and health insurance companies and/or hospitals. She looks at all her e-mails, but rarely checks her voicemail. It’s better to pitch reporters than editors. Use key words in subject line to make searching easier. (i.e. “Leading Geriatrician,” “Medicare Advantage Expert,” etc.). She wants direct access to the spokesperson rather than coordinating an interview with the PR person. Ideally, she’d like the cell number for the source. She is not likely to connect with a PR person so that person can arrange an interview. She’ll just move on to the next source. LA Times is competitive with New York Times, WSJ and USA Today. They WILL NOT cover a story that’s been covered in one of those papers. If you pitch a story to her, haven’t heard back and would like to pitch it elsewhere, send her a note with “Planning to Pitch this to the New York Times” next to your original subject heading to let her know that you’re taking the story elsewhere. She does not have time to meet you for coffee and rarely holds desk side meetings.

Who Does What in Healthcare at the Times?

Daniel Costello, business reporter focusing on physicians and hospitals.

Mary Engel, metro public health reporter – Does not cover private hospitals, business or consumer healthcare-related products; nor does she do week, month or day healthcare observances.

Alice Short, new healthcare editor for California section

Ron Lin, new healthcare reporter for California section

Ricardo Alonso Saldibar, Washington bureau reporter who covers federal government healthcare issues, SCHIP, debate over curbing costs, etc. as well as drug and food safety

Charles Ornstein and Tracey Weber, investigative healthcare reporting

Mr. Jordan Rau, Sacramento bureau covers legislation – healthcare politics and policy, political initiatives and campaigns

Shari Roan, health section main reporter covers everything but fitness. Requires a strong news peg.

Tami Dennis, one of health section’s main editors, interested in consumer health and trends, news you can use. Calling her to see if she got your e-mail just irritates her.

Denise Gellene, science reporter focused on psych, behavior and neuroscience (“above the shoulders”)

Tom Maugh, science reporter focused on medical breakthroughs

Mr. Ashley Dunn, science editor

Gia-rui Chong, infectious diseases

Karen Kaplan, genetics

Deborah Crowe, LABJ Healthcare Reporter

She focuses on LA first and only rarely Orange County. The business you're pitching needs to be located in LA or have a major LA influence. Sometimes covers the SFV; they’re trying to do more. She’s looking for trend, overview and analysis healthcare business stories. If you’re pitching more than one person at the BJ, be upfront about it in your e-mail. Do not call her on Wednesdays. or Thursdays. Fridays are good days to follow up. She doesn’t mind follow ups, but make sure it’s a good time. Don’t worry if you don’t hear back, as she might be hanging onto it for future reference. She will NOT cover a story that’s been in the LA Times or in any of the other top five national dailies. Like Lisa at the LA Times, Deborah likes e-mails with bite-sized bullet points at the top and supporting info. later in the e-mail. She contributes to a page three column that focuses on “something bright, something light.” This would be the place to land something that’s a little “off.” Always have a cell number for your spokesperson and make sure they are in fact available when you pitch the story. As we know, nonprofits don’t get much attention in the LABJ. What helps your chances of getting coverage for a nonprofit is if the organization is partnering with a corporation, which creates a business angle. They do not cover charity work.


The Beverly Hills Courier begins publishing twice a week (adding Wednesdays to Fridays) on February 27, according to a front-page note in its February 8 issue.


Unbeknownst to me, the Ventura County Star's mailing address changed (not sure when) to: P.O. Box 6006, Camarillo, CA 93011, and the newspaper's main phone number is now 805-437-0000.


Caryn Brooks (, previously an "Associated Press asap" entertainment editor.