Montorio closes the loop

The Times' John Montorio has finally named his panel of top editors for the features sections of the paper. As expected, Michalene Busico and Lennie LaGuire get the new title of Deputy Features Editor, as does Sherry Stern. Details of their new roles are in the following memo. Montorio calls it the completion of his month-long "realignment" (rounded up here) of responsibilities and reporting relationships that led to new titles for Tim Rutten and Calendar editors Bret Israel and Alice Short; the only mention of the Los Angeles Times Magazine is that "for now" editor Drex Heikes will report directly to Montorio.

The memo:

To: The Staff

From: John Montorio, Deputy Managing Editor

I am extremely pleased to announce that Michalene Busico, Lennie LaGuire and Sherry Stern have been named to newly created positions as Deputy Features Editors, effective Nov. 1.

Their promotions will allow us to restructure the supervision of our various sections and coverage areas in a more logical and effective manner. Equally important, these appointments complete the departmental realignment that includes Tim Rutten's assignment as Associate Features Editor and the expanded responsibilities undertaken by Bret Israel and Alice Short. As a group, they give us an experienced, skilled, creative and collaborative team of senior editors who can help elevate our report to its next level. Each of these editors not only has a record of individual accomplishment, but also a demonstrated ability to share responsibility, as well as exercise authority. The prospect of working with them as a team is exciting for me, as I'm sure it is for you.

Anyone who has worked with Michalene, either here or at The New York Times, knows she has few equals in her ability to conceptualize and direct a weekly section. She's one of those rare editors who sees the forest and the trees, all at once and with total clarity. That's why I've asked her to assume direct supervision of seven of our weekly sections -- Food, Health, Home, Highway 1, Outdoors, Real Estate and Travel. Their editors will report to Michalene, whose ability to perform simultaneously as counselor, creative conscience and qualitative muse will be of immense benefit to all involved. In Food, in Home and, most recently, in Weekend, we've seen Michalene's flair for service journalism that does not sacrifice quality and her ability for problem-solving at all levels. Watching the editors and staffs of our other weekly sections avail themselves of her guidance is an exciting prospect for us and our readers.

Lennie came to our department as one of the paper's most enterprising and energetic news executives and quickly established herself as a decisive architect of our film and television coverage. Now her portfolio will include another one of our most dynamic beats, pop music, and an expanded role in developing news features. Bob Hilburn, our extraordinary pop critic and editor, has already made that report one of the features we're most proud of. I've asked Lennie to draw on her extensive experience in hard news, both as a reporter and editor, to build on our strong coverage in pop, as well as in film and television. More broadly, she will concentrate on conceiving, coordinating and, when required, directing news feature reporting across all our sections. Lennie will focus particularly on developing stories for A1 and Column One and on acting as their advocate with the relevant editors. She'll also coordinate our department's involvement in major news coverage running in other parts of the paper. In essence, Lennie will work imaginatively and proactively to involve our writers in the day's big stories, better integrating the Features side's considerable talent into the broader life of the paper.

Sherry's new title is partly an endorsement of the essential role she now plays and, partly, a recognition of the vital new responsibilities I've asked her to take on. She already is heavily involved with the department's strategic planning, particularly working with the editors and design staff on launching new sections and revamping existing ones. She oversees the budgets for our department, as well as the space needs of every section. She serves as Features' representative to advertising, circulation, operations and communications. She supervises the TV Times staff, the comics, the Kids' Reading Room and is our newspaper's point person with the news and features syndicates. She > handles our department's physical logistics, too. Soon, she'll be doing still more. Sherry now serves as our liaison with Susan Denley regarding new hires, promotions and raises. Effective immediately, I'm asking our department and section editors to automatically include Sherry in their discussions on hiring and promotion. This will enable her to play a coordinating role across our entire report, helping to steer the right candidate to the right job.

Michalene, Lennie, Sherry and Tim will report directly to me. For now, so too will the editors of daily and Sunday Calendar, Style and the Magazine.

These changes lay the groundwork for a continued rethinking and refinement of our report. That means new assignments and opportunities will become an ongoing part of all our lives. It's an exciting time; let's enjoy it.

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
Why the LA Times' new theater column needs a new name
Helping in Houston, new lion cubs, Garcetti's back
Memo: New LA Times publisher drops web widget
Warren Olney leaving KCRW's radio lineup
LA Times purge 'capped a month of newsroom turmoil'
As the L.A. Times turns ...


LA Observed on Twitter