Wannabe rock ‘star’ finds a home
with the LA Times
by Micole Alfaro, Journalism ‘03
Brady MacDonald (Journalism ’92) came
to California to be a rock star. But when
he needed a job, he turned to journalism.
However, he quickly came to two sobering
conclusions: “No paper will hire a 40-year old rock
star wannabe,” and, “Kurt Kobain is to blame.”
So while living in Whittier delivering flowers
and checking out books, he occasionally wrote for
The Daily News – until one day his editor said he
should go back to school.
Unfortunately for the Virginia Commonwealth
University grad, nothing could prepare him for The
Daily Titan, where eventually as an executive editor
he worked from 6 a.m. until midnight, five days a
He came to Cal State Fullerton as a first-semester
reporter and graduate student and got the bigger
“The paper was my entire existence that
semester,” said MacDonald, who won an award
from the California Scholastic Newspaper
Association for his achievements. “The first
semester I was all gung-ho.”
By his third semester, he was the executive editor.
And while he recalls actually taking another
class, he admits to never actually attending it. “I
was going there to get a job,” he said. That’s where
he met former alumnus and future wife Nancy
From the Titan, he went to the The Orange
Country Register as a copy clerk. He did some
reporting, once covering a plane crash that was
the news of the day. When he arrived at the scene,
he sketched the crash and the plane’s path before
it crash-landed. He also included how the wings
were clipped off when they hit the telephone poles.
Two hours later
the Register graphics
team showed up, but
their work was already
done, prompting the
graphics editor to ask,
“Did you do this?”
That was former
CSUF alumnus Tia Lai,
who hired MacDonald
for a graphics position,
but not before assuring
him that he’d still
have the opportunity to
write. He credits her for
the opportunity that changed his life.
For three or four years, he successfully fulfilled
this role before joining The Los Angeles Times, and
that’s where he’s been for the past 10 years as an
assistant graphics editor drawing maps, charts and
diagrams; even writing a theme park blog titled,
“Funland” for the Travel section.
“I really enjoy the work I do. It’s a way to tell the
story visually,” said MacDonald, who has received
numerous awards for his work from, among others,
the LA Newspaper Publishers Association, AP
News Executives Council, Society of Newspaper
Design, LA Press Club and the OC Press Club.
“I have been able to do a lot of fun, interesting
and serious things,” said MacDonald, who when
California Adventure opened its doors drew the
entire park as part of a two-page graphic. That
was in between landing on an aircraft carrier, and
sketching Disney Concert Hall.
Fortunately for the rock star, he landed in a
place where dreams do come true.