The Housing Chronicles Blog: L.A. Times reporter Annette Haddad loses battle with cancer

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

L.A. Times reporter Annette Haddad loses battle with cancer

I got some news today that I'd been dreading for months, which is that Annette Haddad, a veteran reporter for the L.A. Times who started covering residential real estate just as I started talking more to the press when I worked with MarketPointe Realty Advisors and then Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, had lost her battle with cancer.

What I always liked about Annette was that she was fair, and more than willing to change her mind about something if presented with the right back-up material. She and I were also about the same age, and over time we developed a solid friendship in which I would explain to her how new home builders functioned, and she would coach me on how to provide better, pithier quotes for stories.

She was also very open to story pitches, and when I told her about the first new-home auction I'd seen since the early 1990s, a story on that subject appeared soon thereafter. It's largely because of her advice that I learned "PR 101." When she was named Web Deputy, we'd meet and discuss ways to keep the Times' offerings on real estate data relevant in the online era, but of course when she got sick those ideas were all put on hold.

But my best memory of Annette was when I had a meeting at the Times and we met for lunch in the paper's cafeteria on the first floor: greeting me into the foyer of the original Times building built in 1935, she took me on a personal tour of the building and introduced me to many of the names behind the bylines. It's a tour I'll never forget.

Annette was also a fierce protector of the Times' objectivity. Last year, when I was writing a freelance story for the paper's late real estate section on builder incentives, it was Annette who raised a red flag to the section editor because she was concerned about any appearance of a conflict of interest. Once it was cleared that neither builder noted in the story was a client of mine, the story ran, but it also forced me to institute a new rule that I can't be considered a consultant to the building industry while also writing about them as a freelance reporter. Consequently, I now only write columns, blog posts and book reviews.

When I talked to her later about the issue, however, she was mostly concerned about our friendship, saying, "I really like you, but I had real concerns about this story and thought you'd be upset if I killed it." Frankly, that commitment to the Times made me like and respect her even more, and when she came back for a short time and was elevated to also help oversee the online Business section, I knew it was a great choice.

I suppose I should take some solace that she died on Earth Day, but at this point it just seems so unfair, since she had so much left to give to the Times and to those who knew her. I miss her already.

From an L.A. Times story

Although she had spent much of her career at The Times as an editor, she embraced the idea of covering real estate when offered the chance in 2004.

During her time on the beat, she had 17 Page 1 stories on a variety of aspects of the market, including a sharp Column One feature that provided an early look at the impending foreclosure crisis...

In reporting on residential real estate, she focused her coverage from a financial perspective looking at market trends, housing economics and home-building companies.

She loved her assignment, her husband said.

"After a long week of work, she thought nothing of spending her weekend covering open houses and loved talking to actual buyers," Doggett said.

After her diagnosis in 2007, she underwent surgeries and chemotherapy before returning to work coordinating Business coverage on the paper's website. But a return of the cancer a few months later forced her to quit...

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Humane Society of the United States.


lramella said...

Annette's stories reached all the way to Chicago. I read her as often as I could and found her stories fair and insightful. She will be missed, even in the Windy City.

Lance Ramella, RW Real Estate Advisors

Christopher Hain said...

My condolonces go out to all her loved ones.

While I didn't know her personally, I valued her work very much.