Wednesday, October 7, 2009

LA Times Launches with more voices, images and stories

(l to r ) Greg Braxton, Rachel Abramowitz, Geoff Boucher,  Sallie Hofmeister, Lisa Fung, Elena Howe, Patrick K. Day  
By George McQuade
West Coast Correspondent
Several hundred mostly Los Angeles Times writers, editors and staffers from LAT packed into a launched party on the top floor of a swank West Hollywood Hotel to launched and awards season coverage.
“When we launched the Envelope a couple of years ago, we didn’t have as much video, we didn’t have as much breaking news and mainly covered Hollywood events and film festivals with all the guilds,” said Associate Editor Patrick Kevin Day. “We now have a lot more voices and videos.”, which is billed as the "ultimate awards site," has helped the Los Angeles Times to significantly broaden its coverage of the entertainment business over the past year,” according to Film Critic Betsy Sharkey, formerly the editor.
The new editor is Sally Hofmeister, who introduced additional writers and staffers at this week’s (10-05-09) launch party.
The Envelope's purpose, according to promotional materials, is to raise awareness of award contenders, drive box office numbers, boost DVD sales, influence voting considerations of Academy and guild members and target consumers.
The Envelope receives five million visitors during the off season and much higher numbers during the high season – between November and February. It features interactive photo galleries, video clips of red carpet coverage, celebrity podcasts, blogs and a "Buzzmeter."
This writer asked Day how new media has impacted coverage in the weekly printed version of Envelope and the Online version.
“I think speed is the biggest thing,” said Day. “We have a host of competition from various websites trying into the entertainment awards area, so we have to keep an eye on them constantly and we can’t fall down at any point and be at the top of our game.”
"Don't call me, email works best, because I work out of my home literally blogging all day," said Elizabeth Snead, contributing editor of The Envelope. “I don’t go to as many mixers and late night parties as before, because now I have people I can send to them, so just being here is a rare thing for me.
Elizabeth Snead is the former fashion editor and entertainment writer for USA Today prefers "10 days advance notice of story pitches," since she covers three events a night. "I might not get back to you right away, but I do read my emails," she said.
For almost two years now, Snead has been writing for the  blog. She focuses on news, celebs, awards, politics and pop culture.
A tip: don't pitch a hodge-podge of clients to The Envelope. "We're looking for a window into the lifestyle of a person so exclusives are given much more consideration," said Snead.
The LAT re-launched The Envelope to make it "more accessible to our users and the industry," said its former senior producer Joseph Kapsch.  He is now a producer of the site of entertainment videos.
The site is broken down into sections on awards and includes photos, features and anything to do with the awards show in the subsections. 
For example there are sections with videos and celebrity images on VH1's Hip Hop Honors, 2009 'VH1 Divas' Arrivals, 2009 Latin Grammy Awards Nominees, 2009 ALMA Awards Arrivals and Red Carpet Rewind: 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards.
"There is Academy news and breaking news on the site. We've created these multimedia models on each page for photos. We also host podcasts of nominees or anyone associated with the awards show," said Kapsch, who is now working for, as editorial director.
Kapsch was the former managing editor of, as well as a producer of TV sites at ABC, NBC, Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment and Viacom.
Lisa Fung has been named Online arts & entertainment editor for the Los Angeles Times.
An L.A. Times veteran, Fung has been with the paper for more than 20 years and has overseen its arts and culture coverage for the past nine, including classical music, dance, opera, theater and architecture. In her time at the newspaper she also helped launch the national edition, and worked in Metro and Business before joining the Calendar staff in 2000.
In this expanded role, she will oversee the paper’s multimedia coverage of all arts and entertainment, including Calendar, The Envelope and Company Town, as well as more than a dozen blogs, according to an L.A. Times report.
As far as pitching the writers and editors, all say email pitches are preferred.                      'The Envelope' Contacts:
Sallie Hofmeister, Editor
Elena Howe, Editor,
Betsy Sharkey
film critic
Elizabeth Snead
contributing editor
Patrick Kevin Day
Joseph Kapsch
MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"