LAT Style shakeup

Several of the personnel moves posted here recently have been Style desk writers on the Times' features floor taking new assignments -- Roy Rivenburg to Orange County, Mimi Avins and others to the new Image team. Turns out they were, as rumored, the precursors to a larger rejiggering of the features department. A new animal, the Senior Feature Correspondents team, will "weigh in with a timely feature perspective on an expanded range of newsworthy people and ideas" and function as a SWAT Team in response to breaking news. They will report to Sunday Calendar Editor Bret Israel. Current Style Editor Rich Nordwind will don the newly created hat of Media Editor. The second Times memo of the day explains it:

To: The Staff
From: John Montorio--Deputy Managing Editor
Lennie LaGuire--Deputy Features Editor

We are very pleased to announce a series of moves involving exciting new assignments for some of our department's most talented editors and writers.

Style editor Rich Nordwind has agreed to accept the challenge of filling the newly created post of Media Editor. As you all know, we've been rethinking the Style component of our report and reassigning many of its writers to spots where they'll have an opportunity to make contributions more consistent with their interests and experience. It has been a complex and arduous process through which Rich has performed brilliantly. From atop his lofty new media perch, he'll supervise our coverage of television, radio, publishing and news media, working closely with other editors--notably Maria Russo--to continue and deepen our strong commitment to first-rate television criticism and analysis. He'll also continue his award-winning partnership with Regarding Media columnist Tim Rutten.

Rich is one of our most accomplished and respected entertainment journalists and by consolidating our media coverage under his experienced eye we're positioning ourselves to produce a report that is stronger, richer and more competitive. Toward that end, Rich will be reconsidering our staffing levels and beat assignments, while working with writers and editors to develop fresh strategies and coverage initiatives. As an experienced editor with a well-earned reputation for cultivating excellent working relationships with the writers, we expect Rich to have an immediate impact in this high-profile assignment. He will report to Lennie.

Rich's new appointment gives us the opportunity to draw once again on the remarkable abilities of another gifted editor--Bret Israel.

Bret is one of the paper's most versatile talents with a reputation for imaginative assignments and empathetic editing, gained through a record of great accomplishment. He has agreed to help us with the formation and launch of Style's refined and refocused successor, the Senior Feature Correspondents. This new group--whose composition will be announced soon--will include some of our top feature writers, profile specialists and reporters with the ability to work off the news. They will play an integral part in the paper's coverage of major events, charged with producing high-visibility profiles and stories for Page 1, Column One and the Calendar sections. They'll be expected to weigh in with a timely feature perspective on an expanded range of newsworthy people and ideas and to function as our "SWAT Team" in response to breaking news.

In addition to helping the correspondents settle into their new roles, Bret will work most closely with Lennie to find a permanent leader for this new team and, we hope, to expand its initial ranks. Since Bret will not be giving up his day jobs--editing Sunday Calendar and overseeing our Arts report--he will be working with Elena Howe and, as the need arises, will call on other editors from the Entertainment and Sunday staffs to help launch this vital new initiative. Elena will continue to edit our veteran columnist, Al Martinez.

Join us in congratulating Rich and Bret and in wishing them well as they take on these expanded responsibilities, which take effect next month. We'll be making additional announcements about coverage and assignments, as their work gets underway. The Senior Feature Correspondent positions will be filled from within the staff and talented applicants from across the newsroom who wish to be considered should contact Bret.

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