Unfortunate choice of names, perhaps, but the L.A. Times is officially calling its new weekly tabloid Brand X. It's the latest grasping at straws down on Spring Street and replaces Metromix, which we told you awhile back was shutting down. The section is a stab at attracting new print readers — "younger, social-networking readers who are interested in culture, technology, entertainment, food, events, volunteering, style and the outdoors" — and will include those topics plus stale blog posts from the Times' website. Brand X will also be blog-like on the Web. Here's the memo from Times Editor Russ Stanton:
As the media landscape continues to shift, we are seizing the opportunity to expand The Times to a different audience with a new multimedia editorial product called Brand X (thisisbrandx.com).
In a few weeks, the street boxes currently occupied by Metromix will offer a new weekly tabloid created by the combined efforts of the former Metromix staff, latimes.com and our newsroom. Online, BrandX will take blog form and will evolve and exist apart from latimes.com with its own identity and voice.
Brand X is designed to be a community, aimed at younger, social-networking readers who are interested in culture, technology, entertainment, food, events, volunteering, style and the outdoors. Reader input and participation will be part of the mix, as will features, quick-hit items, reviews and listings.
Brand X will include Times coverage of must-see concerts, exhibitions and events in Southern California. We'll reverse-publish many of our latimes.com blog posts, use Times-generated articles and photos, and create original content that can go back into the main paper. It's content sharing on an extremely local level and will bring our great work to an audience that does not currently see it.
Metromix editor Deborah Vankin, formerly of L.A. Weekly and Variety, will be the editor of Brand X, and report to Dean Kuipers, who counts the launch of The Guide in his 19-plus years in journalism. Their combined staffs -- which soon will be together on the second floor -- will continue to maintain the LA Metromix website, as well as fuel latimes.comís listings, daily print contributions and numerous blogs. The photo, design and copy desks will assume production duties for the tab.
Brand X's success relies on the talents of our newsroom, and Iím looking forward to seeing where we can take this, with your continued supply of smart ideas and execution.
If it generates revenue for the paper, great. * Noted: A critic emails that the editorial side was strongly against the name, citing its "unappealing and retro Gen X connotations." The email adds: "It's the brand that always loses to Tide," but the decision was made by the marketing side (the same marketing department that thought Metromix would be a hit in print.) A Times editor emails that the Brand X name is "terribly unpopular among the rank and file, especially, it seems, among the people who are going to be putting it out."