Meet Richard Perez-Pena, Times‘ Rupe Scribe

0803perez-pena.jpgThe New York Times‘ heroic coverage of Hurricane Murdoch is largely the result of reporter Richard Perez-Pena. A relatively fresh recruit Business Day transplant from the metro desk, Perez-Pena chose a hell of a time to become the paper’s publishing beat reporter. Jon Friedman examined the crucial question of what it’s like to start your new job at the Times covering one of the biggest stories of the year. Surprise, surprise: Perez-Pena is charming, down to earth and managed to break a few great stories:

Perez-Pena had returned to the newsroom the previous day from a vacation visiting family in Los Angeles. Then it was welcome back, here’s the biggest media story of the year … “Every Sunday night, I dreaded logging onto WSJ.com to see what they had,” he told me on Wednesday afternoon when we talked in the Times’ cafeteria. He drank coffee and nibbled on two cookies. (“My afternoon caffeine and sugar,” he said.) … Perez-Pena provided comprehensive coverage and showed grace under pressure in pieces such as “I, Rupert, Will Not That Is, Until I Do” on July 22; “At the Gates; Fear, Mixed with Some Loathing” on July 19; and “Workers See Few Options at Dow Jones” on June 21 … I asked him if he could remember what was going through his head when he heard that News Corp. wanted to buy Dow Jones. “You can’t print what I thought,” he said. But Perez-Pena quickly got his bearings. “If you’re a solid reporter, you can get up to speed on any subject,” he added. “But it does take time.”

The Cuban-born Perez-Pena has been with the Times for 15 years. He started at the paper as a stringer covering the Rodney King saga.