New York Times deputy editor talks West Coast coverage at Berkeley Forum event

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Brian Bi/Staff

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New York Times deputy editor and UC Berkeley alumna Julie Bloom discussed her experience covering the West Coast as a reporter and editor of an East Coast paper with an increasingly Californian readership at an event Monday hosted by The Berkeley Forum.

Campus freshman and event moderator Ian Wong said the Forum welcomed Bloom as someone who has “vast knowledge” of the journalism industry, as well as a UC Berkeley degree.

“I think that’s definitely going to bring out people,” Wong said before the event. “I think people like to hear success stories from other alums.”

During her time at UC Berkeley, Bloom majored in dance and English literature. She also wrote arts pieces and performance reviews for The Daily Californian.

In an interview with The Daily Californian, Bloom said coming back to her alma matter to speak was a “wonderful and thrilling” experience that left her feeling “hopeful.” After getting a masters in journalism from New York University, Bloom wrote and edited culture pieces for the New York Times before being promoted to a position on the national desk, where she oversees coverage of California and the West Coast.

Bloom said at the event that The Times’ western coverage was at one point characterized by “an East Coast snobbery” that has since been remedied. The Times now employs 30 reporters, 11 opinion writers and one restaurant critic in California in an effort to appeal to its western readers, according to Bloom.

“California has a jump on the rest of the country,” Bloom said at the event. “It is a preview state …what happens here matters and is of interest to all readers.”

Now, The Times has more readers in California than it does in any other state, including New York, according to Bloom. She said at the event she believes this growth in western readership is due to two main reasons. The first is the “shrinking media landscape” — Californians look to The Times as local journalism continuously declines, Bloom said. The second reason is something she referred to as the “Trump bump” — Californians look for solid White House reporting during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Bloom echoed the sentiments of The Times executive editor Dean Baquet, who told UC Berkeley students, faculty and aspiring journalists at an event hosted by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism on Friday that he does not strive to be the “leader of the opposition” against Trump. Similar to Baquet, Bloom also addressed the problem of the declining local journalism industry. In some of her closing remarks, she encouraged audience members to support their local papers.

“We all suffer when their presence is diminished,” Bloom said at the event, “It should not be overlooked that those outlets’ coverage has been invaluable.”

After her lecture and a moderated discussion with Wong, Bloom addressed questions from Berkeley community members in a Q&A, during which one audience member asked Bloom how she stays motivated.

“What keeps me going is that I’m surrounded by really smart people who want to talk about everything,” Bloom said at the event. “It’s like Berkeley.”

Rachel Barber is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.