New editor to 'retool' LAT Magazine

A blogger can't even take a few hours away for a nice Valentine's Day lunch (at Angelini Osteria) without something breaking. While I was gone, the inbox was filling up with the news that Times features czar John Montorio, who has rejiggered every other section under his watch, has gotten to the Sunday magazine. Rick Wartzman, the Times' Business Editor, will take over from Drex Heikes. The staff memo that follows below says Wartzman will preside over a "thorough rethinking and retooling of the magazine in preparation for a formal relaunch later this year." No word yet on a new Business Editor; some names being mentioned are deputies Joel Sappell and Russ Stanton. (An L.A. Business Journal story says deputy national editor Tom Furlong—who has experience in Business—is also a candidate to run the section.)

Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 11:53 AM

To: The Staff

From: John Montorio, Deputy Managing Editor

I am extremely pleased to announce that Rick Wartzman, who has so successfully led our business staff for the past two and a half years, has been appointed editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine.

Drex Heikes, who has heroically held the magazine together as its interim editor through years of turmoil and scarcity, will continue to direct its staff through a transitional period before assuming new editorial responsibilities. John Carroll and Dean Baquet will announce Rick's successor as business editor shortly.

Before he joined The Times in September 2002, Rick was an editor and writer for nearly 15 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the steel industry, aerospace, the national economy, lobbying and the Clinton White House. He was the founding editor of The Journal's weekly California edition and served as an editor and columnist in the paper's Los Angeles bureau. As a writer, Rick's work has ranged from liner notes for the "California Blend" album by country music artists Chester Smith and Merle Haggard to a sweeping narrative--co-authored with The Times' Mark Arax--of the Boswell family and their Central California agricultural barony. "The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of A Secret American Empire" was a Times best-seller for seven weeks and has won several major honors, including a 2004 California Book Award.

Those who have had the pleasure of working with Rick since he joined The Times know that his tenure in business has been a vibrant period, distinguished by a clear vision of that section's mission, a collegial spirit toward other departments, a strong emphasis on enterprise reporting and a willingness to take a hands-on role in major projects. Rick has a well-deserved reputation as an editor who inspires those with whom he works to stretch themselves into making the most of their opportunities and abilities. The landmark "The Wal-Mart Effect" and "The New Deal" were but two of the remarkable projects undertaken and brought to successful realization under his leadership.

Initially, Rick will focus his attention on a thorough rethinking and retooling of the magazine in preparation for a formal relaunch later this year. Until then, Drex and his current staff will undertake the vital role of maintaining continuity by putting out the magazine in its present format. Their amply demonstrated dedication to the magazine and passion for its distinctive journalistic mission guarantee a smooth transition. The relaunch will build on many of their accomplishments, particularly their maintenance of the magazine as a showcase for The Times' strong tradition of narrative journalism. Drex's personal contribution in that cause has been invaluable.

Rick's appointment and the steps accompanying it are a reaffirmation of this paper's commitment to the Los Angeles Times Magazine. At a time in which confidence in the viability of color Sunday supplements is on the wane at many newspapers, The Times is infusing its magazine with fresh and dynamic leadership, additional resources and deep new reservoirs of creativity. This effort is testimony to our across-the-board belief in the magazine's central place in the kind of journalism readers have come to expect of The Times.

In his new assignment, Rick will report to me. Please join me in congratulating Rick on this exciting opportunity--for him and the paper.

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