Eric Malnic

Eric Malnic
Photograph by Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times

Among Eric Malnic’s many accomplishments at The Times was becoming a specialist on airplane crashes and he was proud of getting a pilot’s license as part of the beat.

Former Times city editor and columnist Bill Boyarsky says:

The news of Eric's death, while not unexpected, is sad.  He fought hard to live. 

I met Eric when I came to the Times in 1970 and he was one of the young reporters and their families who greeted the Boyarskys, strangers from Sacramento, with  friendship, inviting us to parties, making us feel we were part of something.  Nancy and I often recall those days.  They were like our family.

We worked together over the years, drank at the Redwood and shared the camaraderie of a wonderful newsroom. I got to know Eric even better when I became city editor.  I was thrown into the job with limited editing and executive experience.  Eric was immediately most supportive with advice and with his excellent and steady work.  

He was covering the aviation industry and pursued those complex plane crash investigations with intensity, speed and great success.   He was, as you know, one of the great rewrites, and when there was a big story, Eric was there to do it. 

During the 2000 Democratic convention our then infant website wanted frequent updates from the streets and convention hall.   This was the new journalism that requiring the speed and skill of  the old journalism.   I asked Eric if he was interested.  He grabbed the assignment and whipped out his many updates quickly and accurately, with  the mixture of calm and excitement   required of a good rewrite person.  Ed Boyer, another top rewrite man, writer and editor, shared the assignment.  It was just great watching them work every day.

Eric's career reached  back to the old Times.  I'm sure he worked for Smoky Hale, the legendary old time city editor.  From there, he transitioned into the new Times of Bill Thomas, growing professionally, becoming a valued member of Thomas' eclectic collection of talents.  Through it all, Eric was the complete professional–loyal to the paper but never blindly, willing to undertake any assignment, considerate and fair to his colleagues, helpful to newcomers and young people on their way up. He represented the best in journalism.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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5 Responses to Eric Malnic

  1. mik efaneuff says:

    eric was funny, smart, acerbic, cranky & he taught me everything i needed to know about working in a newsroom. i owe him alot, and i’ll miss him …


  2. Boyarsky got it right — Eric’s work was steady and excellent. And Eric was admired by his colleagues for that and his willingness to share the work and for his wise counsel, even when he was cranky.
    On rewrite, in the days when the LAT could field two or three dozen reporters for a big story, he managed his time exceptionally well and focused intensely so that readers got the full benefit of those resources. His rewrite jobs were masterful examples of clarity, comprehensiveness and telling details that gave life to the facts.


  3. Doyle McManus says:

    Eric taught about three generations of reporters — including me — how to do their craft. He was a master at everything he did. And he was always generous about sharing his skill and his wisdom with those of us who were young and clueless. He struck me as a true Californian, a man of many parts: he took pride not only in his reporting, but also in his flying — and even in the avocados he brought into the newsroom once or twice a year from his plantation in Altadena.


  4. Jon Martin says:

    Today is September 28, 2010. I just found out about Eric today. I am saddened to hear the news.
    As an ” double ex-brother in law” (he was married to my ex-stepsister, Sheila who was his first wife ) I can only tell you about the Eric I knew when I was maybe 8 or 9 and the Eric I met again when I was 24. He was my hero at both times. What a fun guy.
    He made us a sled run on the neighbors hill. Iced it down, made it fast! I ran into a tree but luckily I didn’t kill myself. Eric picked me up and pronounced me ‘OK’ and got me back on the sled with a stern warning to miss the tree.
    He took my brother, Matt and me, to the Yankees game. Got to see Whitey Ford Roger Marris and Mickey Mantle get awards…. we didn’t even know who they were. We do now.
    He drove a Volvo P544. A red one. I had one just like it years later, wish I still had it.
    He came to the house and stayed weekends. He and his college buddy who was some kind of royalty in Europe and who was killed in a car wreck years later. I think his nickname was “Deano”. We just loved to hang around them because they were so “cool”!
    I remember Eric picking up our cat and tossing it onto Deano’s chest. Of course the cat dug in and tried to go upward.
    He told us stories about deflating the tires a bit on Model As and running them on the railroad tracks.
    He was still in the Service when we first met him. Some kind of counter intelligence group but he could never say what they did. My mother always said the FBI had “checked us out”. I don’t know how true that was but it made him even “cooler”. The day he left the service he threw his jacket on the floor and jumped on it remembering in midair that his glasses were in the pocket.
    Visiting him, and his family, when I was 24 was just as good as when I knew him as a little guy. My ex-stepsister wasn’t as nice as what I remembered but he was, he was still the same. He was still fun loving and full of life. Met his dad and mom then for the first time. That would have been about 35 years ago.
    His boys will be in their 40s now. They were born while living in our neck of the woods, Connecticut that is. I think they lived in New York or New Jersey at the time. I met the boys as teens years later… good kids. Polite, well mannered.
    Eric and Sheila let me take the boys on my motorcycle once, perhaps they would not have if they had known how fast it was, a 1972 Kawasaki 500 triple, one of the fastest of that time. But I think they enjoyed the ride.
    He took me into the Times one evening. As I understand it, it was one of the 2 times that he missed getting it out on time. I may have been partially to blame, we played Cribbage in the slack time and I remember it was an excellent game, perhaps that delayed him and contributed to him being late. But he never played the blame game, he accepted it all. Sorry Eric.
    The last time I spoke to him was about 12 years ago and he filled me in on all the happenings. We lost touch again after that and that is OK, regretful but OK. He had his life I had mine. But I thought about him often.
    Since age 8 Eric has been my hero and he always will be.
    Jono Martin


  5. Matthew D. Martin says:

    I learned of the news of this great loss two days ago and it’s taken me these days to assembly my thoughts and control my emotions enough to write… Eric was the big brother who taught me to read the time from a clock, how to shave and gave me some self confidence, something my own father and step-father never did. I remember all those wonderful memories that my brother Jon wrote of yesterday on this page–seeing the NY Yankees whip the Cleveland Indians–seeing Yogi Barra, Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, and all the great pinstippers of the era; snow sledding, Beno and the cat, and the stories of wild times of his youth.
    The last time I saw Eric was in 1971 when some of the family drove across the USA from Connecticut to visit the Malnics. On July 4th Eric took us all to his father’s orange groves somewhere up in the mountains in Southern California north of LA. He and his father set off one hell of a fireworks show—when it was over, we could hear the cheers of the appreciative town folks living down below the orange groves, just one of the great times from a man who loved life and lived it to the fullest.
    We occasionally exchanged letters over the years, but lost touch as two busy lives continued on, for me, I was living in Southeast Asia and he was heading for Tuscany for a family vacation.
    I have long wanted to visit him again, but never seemed to find the time—even so I always knew he was there in my life and in my heart. Jon is right, he was my Hero and a big brother who I will miss for the rest of my days. I do find comfort in the fact that he is still with me everyday and in my heart forever. We will see him again in our own time… Eric, may you rest in peace.


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