Joel Sappell has been the deputy editor in Business for entertainment coverage and the editor who oversaw the groping investigation of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. He will now become an assistant managing editor, raising the website's head to masthead status, as well as get the title of Executive Editor, Interactive. Sappell, 52, has little experience with online news, but Editor Dean Baquet says in a statement that "It has become clear over time that interactive is a different animal, but one that should be guided by the same bedrock principles as the newsroom. It is a testament to the importance of the Web that we are placing one of our most creative and aggressive editors in charge of the editorial part of the site." Left unclear is whether this means any change for Joseph Russin, the assistant managing editor brought in during John Carroll's tenure as editor to encourage more convergence between the paper, its website, the Tribune-owned KTLA and other media. The memo on Sappell follows (apparently Baquet works a month ahead, since he dates today's staff email Nov. 5...):
November 5, 2005
To the Editorial Staff
From Dean Baquet
I am pleased to announce that I am appointing Joel Sappell to the masthead, as Assistant Managing Editor and Executive Editor, Interactive. In this capacity he will oversee editorial content on latimes.com, calendarlive.com, and new interactive initiatives. This new position is designed to better align the newsroom and the web site.
Joel will work closely with the newsroom to create new stories and features for the web, and to encourage all departments to regard latimes.com and our other interactive products as vital, though distinctly different, parts of The Times. It has become clear over time that latimes.com is a different animal, but one that should be guided by the same bedrock principles as the newsroom. It is also an important part of our future. Over the past few months traffic to the web site has increased significantly. Rob Barrett, General Manager/Interactive, and I agreed that Joel was the right person to lead editorial strategy to continue this growth. Joel will report to both of us.
The editorial staffs of latimes.com and calendarlive.com will report to Joel, as will the Extended News Desk and Multimedia staffs in the newsroom.
It is a testament to the importance of the web that we are placing one of our most creative and aggressive editors in charge of the editorial part of the site. Most of you know Joel's work as an editor and reporter. Most recently he led our business entertainment coverage. He also edited our coverage of the groping allegations against Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has been an investigative reporter, city editor, and metro projects editor. He directed coverage of the O.J. Simpson case, and helped oversee coverage of the Northridge earthquake.
Joel's twin strengths in entertainment and local news make him well-qualified to lead new online sites and services such as TheEnvelope.com, a push in entertainment coverage by the end of the year and extended Southern California information and services online.
Please join me in wishing Joel well and helping him carry out these new responsibilities.