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Behind The Times' coverage in Egypt

February 14, 2011 | 12:50 pm


The Times has been covering the historic events in Egypt that began Jan. 25 with demonstrations in Tahrir Square and led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday.

Readers who have been following the reporting have appreciated the depth of coverage. Tony Ransdell of West Hills is one who wrote to The Times:

“I don't know how you have been able to produce the in-depth, insightful editorial coverage of the momentous events in Egypt that you've accomplished over the past couple of weeks,” he wrote. “This is an example of why the Los Angeles Times is still a great newspaper. Thank you for doing your job so superbly!”

Charity B. Gourley of Santa Barbara is another reader who e-mailed to say thank you:

“From the first day of this drama, the L.A. Times sent numerous journalists to cover events from a variety of perspectives. These journalists not only risked their own safety to record history as it was happening, but their writings were extraordinarily lucid and brilliant,” she wrote. “Thanks also to the staff at home who undoubtedly labored overtime behind the scenes to get these concise reports to your readers.”

Editor Russ Stanton acknowledged the staff involved in the coverage in a note to the newsroom Saturday. As he noted, The Times’ coverage of Egypt did not begin Jan. 25; Cairo bureau chief Jeffrey Fleishman has been reporting from the country for three years. And as Gourley guessed, there is a large cast working behind the scenes to produce the coverage.

Following is Stanton’s memo to the newsroom:

Our multimedia coverage of this fast-moving and dramatic story has been simply outstanding. The Web report has been timely and authoritative, the print packages bold, insightful and forward-looking, and our correspondents and reporters are gracing the airwaves across the nation.

LAT-2.12 Today’s paper on this epic story is a keepsake. The Egypt package weighs in at a hefty 10 pages, and we devoted more of our front page and more pages to display our stories, photos and graphics than any daily print publication in the United States.

Collectively, this body of exceptional journalism is the result of great collaboration and teamwork across a broad range of disciplines.

On the ground in Egypt, our dedicated and tireless crew is anchored by Cairo correspondent Jeffrey Fleishman, who over the last three years has powerfully captured the despair, anger and thwarted hopes of a people on the brink. For our readers, the unfolding drama was not a surprise, thanks to Jeff’s standout work, which in 2010 included eight Column Ones from the beleaguered country.

Jeff has a terrific supporting cast that includes Amro Hassan, who had the unique vantage of reporting on his own country going through a revolution; Laura King, who stopped covering a war to fly in from Kabul; Eddie Sanders, joining from Jerusalem; editor Tim Phelps from our Washington bureau; Ned Parker from Baghdad; Alexandra Sandels from Beirut; Bob Drogin and Kim Murphy from National; and Raja Abdulrahim from Metro.

Providing images from Egypt, some of which are more powerful than words, are our fearless and enterprising photographers Carolyn Cole, Michael Robinson Chavez and Rick Loomis.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Beirut correspondent Borzou Daragahi, fresh off covering the revolution in Tunisia, anchors our Web and regional coverage from Lebanon with his team of Meris Lutz in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran. Other contributors include Doha Zohairy in Cairo, Noah Browning in Yemen, Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem and Kim Willsher in Paris.

On loan from Metro, Carol Williams, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Alex Zavis are providing up-to-the-minute reporting for the home page and Babylon blog.

This team is expertly led by Foreign Editor Bruce Wallace and supported magnificently by Mark Porubcansky, Paul Feldman, Roger Ainsley, Efrain Hernandez Jr., Bruce McLeod and Kari Howard. Mike Faneuff, as usual, directed traffic.

From our Washington bureau led by Kerry Luft are editors David Meeks, Bob Ourlian and the visiting Steve Clow, and reporters Peter Nicholas, Christi Parsons, David Cloud, Brian Bennett, Paul Richter, Ken Dilanian, Lisa Mascaro, Matea Gold, Paul West, Rick Serrano, Jim Oliphant and Mike Memoli.

Other contributors from National include Michael Muskal and Andy Malcolm.

From Images, photographer Ricardo  DeAratanha and editors Steve Stroud, Alan Hagman, Rob St. John, Mary Cooney, Mary Vignoles, Calvin Hom, Jeremiah Bogert, Marc Martin, Bryan Chan, Jerome Adamstein, Bob Chamberlin, Robert Lachman and Glenn Koenig; pre-pressers Veronika Derugin and Scott Harrison; and providing logistical and technical support, Elsa Luna, Robbin Goddard, Jason Neubert and David Muronaka.

From the best copy desk in the industry, the Foreign team led by Deborah McKown includes Laura Dominick, Rachel Dunn, Aisha Khan, Kevin Leung, Arnold Paradise, John Penner and Lee Rogers. They were joined by National copy chief Rich Nelson and his crew of Rebecca Bryant, Christine de la Cruz, Anne Elisabeth Dillon, Sue Worrell and Ken Olsen, as well as assists from several members of the Metro and Business copy desks. In the crucial role of A1 slot, we are being served masterfully by Ms. Dominick and Paul Ybarrondo, who crafted today’s memorable headline package, and Brad Bonhall.

Meriting a separate mention is the A.M. copy desk, with Brian Hanrahan and Amy Hubbard leading a team of Rubaina Azhar, Steve Devol, LaKenya Finley, Lynn Meersman, Don Ragland, Mark Sachs, Evita Timmons and Warren Wolfswinkel.

From the most decorated design desk in our business: Dan Santos, who with Assistant Managing Editor Michael Whitley produced today’s memorable A1; Gerard Babb, Mark Yemma, Lorraine Wang, Bill Sheehan, Mike McKay, Dave Campbell, Mike Kirkendall, Molly Bedford, Rick Collins, Bryan Volk and Kelli Sullivan.

From the A1, home page and LATExtra desks: Mary Braswell, Mary Ann Meek, Marcy Springer, Tenny Tatusian, Tim Garrison, Sue Timmons, Patrice Roe, Michael Owen, Craig Howie, Michael Farr, Monte Morin and Jill Jones. Michael McGehee worked fast to get MSNBC’s live video of Mubarak’s and Suleiman’s addresses. Overnighters Dave Johnson and Marc Olson keep us in the game around the clock.

From our graphics department: Tom Reinken, Julie Sheer, Ray Enslow, Raoul Ranoa, Mark Hafer, Lorena Iniguez Elebee, Tia Lai, Paul Duginski, Khang Nguyen, Doug Stevens, Brady MacDonald and Robert Burns.

From Metro, Teresa Watanabe had a nice piece on L.A.’s Egyptian community, and Kate Linthicum wrote about U.S. college students in Egypt.

From the projects desk, Roxane Arnold, Scott Kraft and Christopher Goffard provide much-appreciated editing support.

From Business, Jessica Guynn, Tiffany Hsu, Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Stephen Ceasar, Ron White and Tom Petruno.

From Calendar, TV critic Mary McNamara sized up Al Jazeera’s coverage, architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne reviewed an exhibition on Middle Eastern architecture that seemed to take on new meaning, and media columnist Jim Rainey skewered Fox commentator Glenn Beck.

From the library research team, Kent Coloma, Robin Mayper and Scott Wilson.

From News Ops, Barbara Thomas, Steve Straehley, Jim Angius and Katrina Ten.

Finally, for those listed here who don’t work in Foreign and were diverted from their regular duties to help in this Herculean undertaking, colleagues in every department rallied to pick up the slack.

If this were an Oscar acceptance speech, the orchestra would be three-quarters of the way through Beethoven’s 9th by now, trying to shut me down. Apologies for the length of this note, but as you can see, I am fiercely proud of our effort.

As this story continues to unfold, there remains much work to be done. But each and every day -- in print, online, over the airwaves and across social media -- we continue to play far above our weight class.

On behalf of our 22 million-plus readers in Southern California and around the world, a big and heartfelt THANKS to all of you.

Photo: A man in Tahrir Square holds up the Egyptian flag on Friday after President Mubarak announced he was handing over power to the military. Credit: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times