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David Lauter to lead Tribune Washington bureau

March 28, 2011 | 11:37 am

Times Editor Russ Stanton made the following staff announcement today:

Assistant Managing Editor David Lauter, who has headed up The Times’ California report for the last 3½ years, will become chief of Tribune’s Washington, D.C., bureau, effective today.

David is well suited for the post, in part because his 24-year career at The Times began in the Washington bureau, where he spent eight years covering national politics and the White House under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1995, David has become one of our most seasoned editors, having extensive experience in three key arenas that regularly intersect in Washington: foreign, national and metro news.

As bureau chief, David will oversee a staff of 19 reporters and four editors who serve Tribune’s eight newspapers, its websites, its mobile offerings and the Media on Demand operation in Chicago. He will play a key role in our coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign, for which he is especially well qualified, having run The Times’ coverage of the 1996 campaign. Among David’s responsibilities will be to establish a sharp upward trajectory for our new political blog, Politics Now, helmed by Jim Oliphant and Mike Memoli.

David succeeds Kerry Luft, who is returning to the Chicago Tribune as senior editor, directing a wide range of initiatives including coordination of 2012 national campaign coverage, where he and David will work closely together. Gerry Kern and I have worked together on this leadership transition.

As a Washington correspondent, David was awarded The Times Publisher’s Prize for excellence in 1991 and the award for sustained excellence the following year. As an editor, he went from directing the ’96 campaign effort to joining the Metro desk in 1997 to supervise California government coverage. David oversaw the paper’s specialist writers from 1998 to 2001, when he became deputy Metro editor. In that post, he directed coverage of California’s gubernatorial recall election in 2003 and played a central role in guiding reporting of the massive wildfires that swept through the region that fall, coverage for which The Times received a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

David became deputy foreign editor in 2006, and in that role helped guide The Times’ Baghdad-based reporters through the most difficult parts of Iraq’s civil war.

Since David became California editor in October 2007, the Metro staff has produced some of the newsroom’s signature work, including uncovering the corruption scandal in the city of Bell, producing the “Grading the Teachers” series, investigating the county child welfare department and dissecting the state’s fiscal crisis. Another highlight of David’s tenure was the “Big Burn” series on wildfires, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for explanatory reporting.

At the same time, David has led the effort to reorganize Metro – the largest reporting and editing staff in the newsroom – to meet the demands of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle. His department has produced our most successful online breaking-news report – L.A. Now, which brings in north of 7 million page views a month – and a host of groundbreaking database projects, including our Crime L.A. project, California’s War Dead, Mapping L.A. and the LAUSD teacher rankings database.