Meet the Staff
Russ Newton
(619) 293-1108

Russ Newton joined the Los Angeles Times in 2000 and was named publisher of the Times Community News in March 2015. Following the acquisition of the San Diego Union-Tribune by The Times parent company, in May, 2015, Newton was named president and chief operating officer of the Union-Tribune. Prior to that he served as senior vice president of operations at The Times from 2007 to 2015. Before joining The Times, he was director of operations from 1998 to 2000 at Landoll Inc., a Tribune Education company. Previously, he led the packaging department at the Orlando Sentinel in Orlando, Fla., from 1994 to 1998, and the production division, press and packaging areas at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., from 1987 to 1994. Newton joined Tribune Co. in 1985, serving as a shift supervisor, crew supervisor and trainer at the Chicago Tribune from 1985 to 1987. Before joining Tribune, he worked as a press operator at The Times/Journal Company in Springfield, Va., from 1982 to 1985, and as a dispatch courier and press trainee at Madison Newspapers Inc. in Madison, Wis., from 1978 to 1982. Newton has been a board member at CIPS Marketing Group since 2001 and the International Newspaper Group since 2013. He is a past member of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership 2002-2005.
(714) 966-4607

John Canalis is the editor of Weekend, a weekly insert that goes to all Los Angeles Times subscribers in Orange County, as well as the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. Prior to joining L.A. Times Community News in February 2010, John worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, where he served in a variety of writing and editing roles. John has written extensively for Southern California newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, and teaches journalism at Orange Coast College and Cal State Long Beach.
Director, Advertising Sales
(714) 966-4653

Janet Vinograd is a sales manager with the Los Angeles Times Media Group in Orange County. She oversees advertising for Times Community News, which includes the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. Janet co-founded Greer’s OC, a leading Orange County fashion, dining and lifestyle email newsletter and website. Janet was also a Times Community News sales executive from 1988 to 2001. She can build sustainable multidimensional advertising campaigns for customers that drive results. A mother of five, she lives in Laguna Beach with her husband and children.
City Editor
(714) 966-4634

Rob Vardon is city editor for the Daily Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He previously held several editing positions during nearly two decades at the Orange County Register. He also was an editor at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Jose State University. He has lived in Southern California since 1987, except for his four years in Texas.
City Editor
(714) 966-4696

Alicia Lopez is the city editor for the Coastline Pilot and Daily Pilot. She has been covering the Southern California region since 1993. Previously, she covered Costa Mesa as a columnist and freelancer; the Inland Empire, Tustin, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach as a page designer; and Orange, Hemet, San Jacinto, Tustin and Berkeley as a reporter and photographer. She cut her teeth at the Daily Californian at UC Berkeley, where she earned her bachelor's degree.
Web Editor
(714) 966-4682

Ann Haley is the web editor for the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. A longtime Orange County resident, she was the home page editor for the Orange County Register, where she had held numerous other editing positions since 1981. Ann also has worked as a reporter or editor for the Reno Gazette-Journal, Las Vegas Sun and Riverside Press-Enterprise. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara.
Photo Editor
(714) 966-4694

Don Leach has been photographer for L.A. Times Community News for more than 15 years and has served as the photo editor for the last three years. He earned a bachelor's degree in photojournalism from Cal State Long Beach in 1993, and was named NPPA College Photographer of the Year while in the program. He added the Los Angeles Times Editor's Award in 2013 among other professional awards over his career. Don lives in his hometown of Laguna Beach and says his favorite things to shoot are surfing and ocean-related.
Sports Editor
(714) 966-4616

Steve Virgen is the sports editor of the Daily Pilot, Huntington Beach Independent and Coastline Pilot. He was a sports writer for the Daily Pilot from 2000 to 2004, and later worked as a high school sports reporter at the Bakersfield Californian. He returned to L.A. Times Community News in 2006. He studied journalism at Citrus College in Glendora and earned his degree at Fresno State, where he also worked as the sports editor for the student newspaper and a writer for the Fresno Bee and Clovis Independent.
Features Editor
(714) 966-4617

Michael Miller is the features editor, columnist and book critic for the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. A UC Irvine alumnus with a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, he serves on the board of directors for the Orange County Press Club and is the author of two books of poetry, "College Town" and "The First Thing Mastered," from the Huntington Beach-based press Tebot Bach.
(714) 966-4624

Anthony Carpio is a reporter with the Huntington Beach Independent. He also writes monthly album reviews for the Daily Pilot. He joined the staff on New Year’s Eve 2012 and covers everything from the City Council to community events. He graduated from Cal State Northridge with a degree in journalism. Prior to reporting in Huntington Beach, he was a freelance reporter for the Pasadena Sun, the La Canada Valley Sun and the Santa Clarita Signal.
Education Reporter
(714) 966-4619

Alex Chan is the education reporter for the Daily Pilot, Huntington Beach Independent and Coastline Pilot. Prior to joining Times Community News, she spent two years writing for the Orange County Register’s Varsity Arts section. She earned her degree in literary journalism from UC Irvine.
Features Writer
(714) 966-4623

Kathleen Luppi is a features reporter for the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. Prior to joining L.A. Times Community News, she was an award-winning journalist at the Orange County Register, where for seven years she helped cover retail, civil and criminal trials, philanthropic events and home and garden features. She received her literary journalism degree from UC Irvine.
Sports Reporter
(714) 966-4611

Mike Sciacca is the sports writer for the Huntington Beach Independent and Coastline Pilot. He joined L.A. Times Community News in 1995 and covers prep, collegiate, professional and youth sports for both papers. In addition to his sports coverage, he previously served simultaneously as features writer for the Life & Arts section and covered the education beat for the Huntington Beach Independent. He has won California Newspaper Publishers Assn. sports writing awards in 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2011, and was a 2013 Los Angeles Times Editorial Award recipient. He is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton.
Art Director
(714) 966-4628

Hamlet Nalbandyan is the art director and oversees the production desk for the Daily Pilot, Huntington Beach Independent and Coastline Pilot. Born in Yerevan, Armenia, he graduated from Glendale High School in 1998 and a year later became a sportswriter for the Glendale News-Press. After eventually becoming sports editor of the News-Press, he came to L.A. Times Community News, South, in 2006.
Letters Editor, Copy Chief
(714) 966-4620

Deborah Zucco is the letters editor and copy chief for the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. She is a veteran reporter and editor who has written for newspapers that include the Niagara Gazette and Thousand Oaks News Chronicle. She spent many years with the Orange County Register in various editing roles and before joining L.A. Times Community News in March 2013 had a two-year freelance assignment with the New York Times. Zucco has a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University.
Page Designer
(714) 966-4610

Matt Wilkes is a page designer/copy editor for the Daily Pilot. He started in newspaper production at Celtic Newspapers in Cardiff, Wales, in 1996 before moving to the sports desk of Wales on Sunday in 2000. In 2004 he moved to California and got a job designing the Pilot. In 2005 he shifted to L.A. County, where he designed the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, Pasadena Sun and La Cañada Valley Sun, winning several CNPA awards during his nine years there. In 2013, he returned to the Pilot.

Scott Smeltzer has been a staff photographer for the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent since 2009. He previously worked as a photographer for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Glendale News-Press before transferring to Costa Mesa.

Kevin Chang has been a staff photographer for the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent since 2011. Prior to working for L.A. Times Community News, he spent close to three years living and working as a freelance photographer in Beijing. One memorable assignment he recalls covering for foreign wire service Agence-France Presse was the week of jury deliberation for Michael Jackson's molestation trial in June 2005. He previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram. He has a bachelor's degree in communications from Cal State Fullerton.

Huntington Beach Independent
10540 Talbert Ave., Suite 300
Fountain Valley, California, 92708
(714) 966-4600

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The Independent is an award-winning weekly covering the Orange County coastal city of Huntington Beach. The Independent has a weekly circulation of 34,500 and 86,000 weekly print readers and 100,000 online page views each month.