Bob Baker (1948-2015)
Note: Bob Baker passed away in 2015. Please click here to read his obituary at the Los Angeles Times.
Bob Baker was a freelance writer, editor and writing coach who was a newspaperman for 35 years, the last 26 at the Los Angeles Times.
Bob was a Los Angeles native who graduated with a journalism degree from Cal State Northridge, and spent five years as a reporter and two years as city editor of the now-defunct Thousand Oaks, Calif., News Chronicle. The News-Chronicle was voted the state’s best small daily in both of the years he was city editor. He left the News Chronicle in 1978 to work on “Newsthinking,” which would be published in 1981.
Later in 1978, he joined The Times, where he alternated several times between stints as a reporter and an editor. As a reporter, he was a Metro general-assignment writer whose enterprise stories ranged from the legacy of Vietnam draft dodgers to the inner lives of street gang members.
Later, he became the paper’s labor/workplace writer, using his feature sensibilities to chronicle rising tensions between America’s corporations and their workforces.
His last assignment with the Times was in the paper’s feature section, covering popular culture, which ended when he left the paper in mid-2004. As an editor he handled general-assignment reporters as well as beats on race, religion and demographics.
During one of his editing stints on the City Desk, Bob created The Times’ first writing newsletter, “Nuts & Bolts,” in 1998. The next year, he became the first Los Angeles Times “journalist in residence” at USC.
Upon his return he was named the newspaper’s first full-time writing coach and also conducted a series of writing seminars throughout California on behalf of the California Newspaper Publishers Assn. In 2001, he returned to life as an editor, and “Newsthinking” returned to life as a college textbook, published by Allyn and Bacon with an appendix culled from “Nuts & Bolts.”
Since leaving the Times, Bob wrote for the New York Times and has worked as a writing coach for the Associate Press’ editor-training program, the Riverside, Calif., Press-Enterprise and several other publications. He also recorded an 11-song CD of original material in Nashville (click here to purchase Bob’s CD).
Bob is survived by his wife Marjorie Mauriello Baker (whose Italian cookbook is available at myneapolitankitchen.com), and his daughter Amanda.