Whatever the new West will be, or if any readers will care that it is no longer called The Los Angeles Times Magazine (I believe the decision to reach that name took over a year---really), the ad campaign is just a marvel. No wonder people are paid so handsomely, to come up with copy like "It's a whole new magazine, with a strong sense of place and a unique voice." What do you figure---this genius exec is making a hundred and fifty grand? Drives that Lexus to his/her million-five cottage in Montrose?
Strong sense of place?
Well, you know, if it's called "West," and is intended for L.A., you'd best hope it has a "strong sense of place," eh? Wouldn't go over so well if it was about, oh, Talahassee. Unique voice? Bet you�ve never heard that expression anywhere in your whole life! But in defense, the phrase has every bit as much vivaciousness and cleverness as Dick Cheney.
The flyer's flaccid, lifeless, pulverized language is capped off, most peculiarly, by a phrase in big letters placed inside very mysterious parenthesis, "You'll like where we're going." Of course, I don't like where they're going, as it sounds like an even more inflated, precious, pompous version of where they've been.
Here are a couple of covers from the old West magazine, which was edited for a time by Jim Bellows.
* Late thought: (4:25 pm) I should have noted the connection that Mark Arax, who writes the cover piece in the premier issue of West, is the co-author with West editor-in-chief Rick Wartzman of The King of California: J. G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire. Arax lives in Fresno and his piece is rooted (as was their book) in the Central Valley. That brings to mind one test the magazine will likely be judged on: the balance of worldview and voices between south of the Tehachapis and north.
While important and interesting to journalists, Northern California—and especially Arax and Wartzman's Central Valley—are less important and interesting to Times readers than the southern third of the state. If the magazine doesn't err on the side of SoCal—in the tone and substance of its signature feature pieces as well as in the style and service departments—it will be a lost opportunity for the Times to reassert its chops as a leading voice of the region. Publisher Jeff Johnson gets it, stressing in a memo to the staff today that "the new magazine is the latest step in The Times' strategy to reinvigorate the core brand and reconnect with Southern California." When Wartzman was interviewed on KPCC today by Kitty Felde, he stressed something subtly different: that West will be California-centric. Be interesting to see if he's still saying that a year from now.