The New York Times has gone inside for its New York–based TV entertainment
beat reporter, naming Jacques Steinberg. The veteran reporter, who covers the
newspaper industry for the paper, has been pinch-hitting on the TV news beat
for the past year, ever since Jim Rutenberg went on campaign coverage. Steinberg
will be on his own for the next few months because TV-beat major-domo Bill Carter
tells L.A. Weekly he is planning on taking a short leave early next year
to do some reporting for a possible book, “the details of which are still
a bit undefined at the moment.”

Times sources also tell L.A. Weekly that the newspaper offered
its Hollywood TV reporting job to Jennifer Ordonez, Newsweek’s Los Angeles
correspondent, but she turned it down. “The New York Times would be a great place to be and I'm a fan of the paper. But this just wasn't the right time for me to make a change. It was a personal decision, ” Ordonez told LA Weekly Friday. That is the candidate to which Jonathan
Landman was referring when he e-mailed the staff recently that the paper had
already filled its third expansion slot, a new Hollywood television reporter
“whose name we will announce shortly.”

This was to be the replacement for L.A.-based Bernie Weinraub, who retires
in February. The paper is planning a big goodbye party for Weinraub at the home
of L.A. bureau chief John Broder.

Steinberg is a 1988 Dartmouth grad who began at the Times as the legendary
columnist James “Scotty” Reston’s clerk and worked for the Metro,
National and Education sections. In a staff e-mail, Landman claimed Steinberg
first knew he wanted to write about TV when he penned a profile of Conan O’Brien
for Arts & Leisure. “It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it [writing
about the] gosh dern wacky things that go on in TV.”

Landman also used the opportunity to take a potshot at Tom Brokaw’s one-day-old
replacement Brian Williams as NBC’s nightly news anchor. Recounting an anecdote
when, chowing down on Philly cheesesteaks together, Steinberg was recognized
and not Williams, Landman joked, “Anyone can see from Brian’s [debut] performance
last night that he still hasn’t completely recovered.”

Reached by phone, Steinberg declined comment to L.A. Weekly about the
new gig.

In other news on the Times Culture desk expansion, one minute, Landman
is complaining his section is “undermanned” and the next, his colleague,
associate editor and columnist Frank Rich, is confessing it has added so many
new staffers, “a lot of the people are just finding [their] way to where
the restrooms are.”

Both editors appeared on the Charlie Rose show recently to discuss what’s going
on. “We’ve added almost 20 people in the Culture department, which is for
the Times a huge increase in editorial employees. We’ve also added about
seven columns a day of editorial space,” Rich noted.

Added Landman: “We’ve added about seven and a half pages on average per
week. That’s a lot. We’re just getting warmed up.” Asked by Rose if this
is a “big bet” by the paper — Rose meant in terms of money and prestige
— Landman answered: “Well, any time you spend the kind of money we’re spending,
it’s a big bet . . . We’re not betting the ranch. But we’re betting that a lot
of our readers have insatiable appetites for top-quality reporting, writing
and criticism about the arts and the culture generally.”

Rich said that, in his 25 years at the paper, “this is so far and away
the biggest overhaul I’ve seen given to any component of the Times in
that period,” including the redos of the weekend sections and the daily
sections and the magazine. “It’s kind of remarkable. And it’s a roll of
the dice in some way, and it will be months before people can even get a sense
of it, including us. A lot of the people are just finding our way to where the
restrooms are.”

For Nikki Finke’s previous reporting on this, read

LA Weekly