Rick Wartzman's editor's note (labeled "From First and Spring") in Sunday's debut issue of West magazine fesses up to a strong belief in the Carey McWiliams school of California reportage and observation.
Lawyer, journalist and social pot-stirrer Carey McWilliams marveled at the state's capacity to reinvigorate itself, to be "reborn, reconstituted by periodic injections of new blood, of fresh energies."
It is in this spirit that I welcome you to West.
The state is an immense canvas, and we aim to capture it in the grandest sense imaginable: our dreamers and pragmatists; our mountains, deserts and coast; our endless urban sprawl; Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the biggest farm belt in the nation in between; our multiethnic stew; the challenges brought on by our exploding population; style, design and fashion; music and literature; and on and on and on....
From time to time, we'll also cover subjects that shape the larger Western region. And we'll write from locations that practically seem like suburbs, given their nexus to California. Think Las Vegas, the Pacific Rim, Latin America.
The real question is whether a particular story resonates differently here than it would in New York or the Midwest or around the Beltway. If the answer is yes, then it's our story.
In this way, we will be writing not just about California but to California—to that distinct part of every thinking Californian's self-identity, to that California sensibility that resides in all of us.
In addition to place, one other pillar will hold up the magazine week in and week out: its unique voice.
We will publish narratives and profiles. We will publish investigative articles. We will publish memoirs. We will publish photo essays, illustrations and cartoons. We will publish humor and satire. Yet whatever kind of piece it is, it will be characterized by the sharpness of its point of view.
Our stories will be fair and give a say to all concerned. But they'll often reach firm conclusions. And they won't shy away from first-person observation and perspective. We want our stories to be written from the inside out, not the outside in.
Those qualities work for me, if executed. It remains to be seen whether Times readers— or more importantly, non-Times readers in Southern California looking for a new reason to buy the paper—will be charmed by them or by the spirit of a radical leftist muckraker whose influence was strongest fifty years ago. Here's a link to the magazine. The contributor box manages to cite three books authored by staffers, including Wartzman's.