Michael Luo leaves reporting, becomes deputy metro editor at NYT

Michael Luo says he’s “hanging up my reporter hat” to help lead The New York Times’ metro coverage:

He’ll be deputy metro editor, as will David Halbfinger, a Times memo from metro editor Wendell Jamieson says:

With Cliff Levy off to NYT Now, I’m thrilled to announce the appointment of two new deputy Metro editors: David Halbfinger and Michael Luo. They will share the traditional deputy roles of advising me and helping me run the department (and perhaps occasionally consoling me), but will each also direct a specific coverage area: David will continue to oversee our terrific political report and Michael will run a new team focusing on investigations and long-form narratives while spearheading those efforts across the department, as well as helping to coordinate our general enterprise efforts with Ian Trontz. Read more in this note from Wendell Jamieson.

A few words about each:

David became political editor two months back, and has stepped into the role like few I’ve seen before. We’ve broken plans to bring medical marijuana to New York, the colorful feud between the governor and the attorney general, and the fact that the mayor is 7/8th of an inch taller than he said he was. David is a champion of his reporters, already a fixture on the desk, and his help on the Christie coverage has been a Godsend to me and Kate Zernike.

I first worked with David at New York Newsday. After it folded, he went to The Boston Globe, and in 1997 joined The Times, working in the Bronx, Long Island, New Jersey, Atlanta, and on the Kerry campaign, and then Los Angeles, before returning to Metro. He was born in Manhattan, raised on Long Island and lives now in Montclair with his wife, Kimberly Brown, a director of news practices at ABC News, and their daughters Natasha and Eva and baby son Jack.

Michael joined The Times in 2003: I’m proud to say I was his first editor here, on transportation. He is a reporter of rare focus and patience, but also of heart and humor. He helped investigate New York State’s Medicaid program, served a stint in Baghdad and another in Washington before covering the 2008 presidential campaign. Then it was off to National to cover, among other topics, the human impact of the recession. He moved to Investigations three years ago, where he did a series of big investigations on guns in America. He stepped away from that topic to do investigative stories on the 2012 presidential campaign, but returned to it after the Newtown massacre, with his earlier work suddenly seeming prescient.

Here’s his recollection of a story he and I worked on together:

“One of my all-time favorites remains, of course, our discovery that more than 2,500 of the 3,250 push-to-walk buttons at intersections across the city do not work and are essentially ‘mechanical placebos,’ in which any benefit from pushing them is only imagined.”

I love that story, too. I have cited it dozens of times in the last 10 years to prove that A1 stories lurk on every streetcorner of New York City.

Mike was born in Pittsburgh, lived in upstate New York, went to high school in Michigan and then college at Harvard. He worked for The Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press before joining The Times. He lives on the Upper East Side with his wife, Wenny, who is a buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue; and his daughters Madeleine, 4, and Vivienne, born last month.

A final note: It has long been the tacit arrangement that the deputy Metro editor manages the mechanics of the daily report, that he or she makes the trains run on time. But the Metro backfield is functioning at such a high level these days that the trains aren’t only on time — they’re often early. Thus, I have the luxury of appointing a pair of hugely talented deputies who can focus most of their energies on elevating two crucial coverage areas.

David and Michael begin their new roles on March 1, but they’ll be around a lot before that. Please join me in welcoming them.

Cheers,
Wendell

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.