The L.A. Times plans to relaunch its Sunday magazine Feb. 5 as West. The name has a history at the paper. A previous incarnation of the Sunday magazine was called West in the 1960s and '70s under Jim Bellows, who ran the soft sections of the Times. He wanted West to be a little edgier than what the Times was used to, but writes in his memoir—the ever-so-humbly titled The Last Editor: How I Saved the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times from Dullness and Complacency—that it didn't go so well. The Times' editor in chief Nick Williams thought Bellows went too far, complaining in a memo:
"[T]oo many oxes are gored ... too many segments of our middle-class audience are offended....We have GOT to watch the mix. We have GOT to avoid over-sophistication .... One thing you've got to hammer into the heads of ALL 'West' staffers--never KNOCK an advertiser, even gently."
That's the journalism spirit! New editor Rick Wartzman no doubt has other plans. He has snagged four staff writers who are regarded within the paper as stylists and announced that fiction will be a regular part of the mix. Sources say the name change is intended to reflect the magazine's strong California rootedness. (Yes, California as opposed to Los Angeles...)