New design honcho at LAT

It's been six months since Joe Hutchinson left the L.A. Times for Rolling Stone. Today his replacement was named. It's apparently a somewhat controversial decision within the newsroom, judging by the chatter. These announcements are now coming from John Arthur rather than from Editor Jim O'Shea. (By the way, many staff memos now get posted at the paper's Readers' Representative blog.)

From: John Arthur, managing editor
To: The Staff

I'm pleased to announce that Michael Whitley has been promoted to Assistant Managing Editor for Design, reporting to me.

Michael is known not only for his outstanding design skills and dignified attire -- dark suits, round the clock -- but for his easygoing manner, gracious collegiality, deep interest in photojournalism and in stories of all types. In his tenure at The Times, Michael has had a hand in some of the paper's most important projects and consistently receives praise from colleagues for his high standards and ability to work as part of a team.

Michael joined The Times in April, 2003, as deputy design director for news after serving as team leader for news and projects at the Charlotte Observer for three years. In January, 2006, Michael was named design director for news, overseeing design for the A, California, Business and Sports sections.

Effective today, features design, graphics and magazine design will also will report to Michael. He inherits an incredibly talented group. From the the wonderful work done by Christian Potter-Drury and the features design department, Les Dunseith and the graphics department and Heidi Volpe and the magazine design department, The Times is recognized throughout the industry for both our high-quality journalism and the creative and intelligent ways we present it.

Before joining The Times, Michael was the projects designer at the San Diego Union-Tribune and the deputy design director for news and sports at the Copley Suburban Chicago Newspapers. His first newspaper job was at the Princeton (Ind.) Daily Clarion, an 8,000-circulation paper where he served as reporter, photographer, designer, sometimes plate-maker and even wrote a weekly column.

Michael is from Versailles, Ky., home to thoroughbred horse racing and Woodford Reserve Bourbon, both of which he enjoys in moderation. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Evansville (Ind.) in journalism with specializations in photojournalism and investigative reporting.

Michael lives in Culver City with his wife, Jacqueline, and their dog, Reiley.

For two years, the Design Department has reported to Deputy Managing Editor Melissa McCoy, who has ably juggled that assignment, leadership of the entire copy desk and a variety of other tasks. I want to thank Melissa for her contributions to the management of what is clearly one of the best design desks in American journalism. More interesting responsibilities will continue to come Melissa's way!

Also: Washington bureau reporter Judy Pasternak won the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism for her series on the toxic legacy of uranium mining in Navajo country.

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