The LA Weekly's editorial staff is down to six full-time employees: three editors (Drex Heikes, Jill Stewart and Tom Christie) and three reporters, according to a story at USC's Neon Tommy on Heikes, the recently hired top editor with a past at the Los Angeles Times. [* Neon Tommy counted way wrong or was led astray: The Weekly has at least 18 full-time staffers. See below.] But the Weekly's financial plunge hit bottom last spring, Heikes says — "I wasn't here, but from what I understand, there were sparks on the pavement....there was just nothing left" — and he now has the OK from Village Voice Media to hire again. There are "positions available for a full-time reporter and news blogger," the story says.
"The way this'll get structured is the way I ran the Sunday magazine at the [L.A.] Times," he said. "Everything will come through that basket right there [knocks on desk]. I'll read everything...."
In an interview at the Weekly's offices in Culver City, Heikes said he did not sign on to preside over an organization in decline. At the top of his agenda: reclaiming the Weekly's legacy of pioneering investigative journalism and its street-level awareness of L.A.'s music and art scenes. He's already overseeing heavy investment in the Web as a primary delivery vehicle for the Weekly's goods.
The new editor echoed past voices from the Weekly in describing his editorial approach: "I see it from the ground up, not top down. I don't want us covering [Los Angeles Mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa like a rock star like the Times did for a few years until they got tired of him. What's going on in the streets? Let's work up from that."
He said the open reporting position attracted 429 applicants, including Pulitzer Prize winners.
Heikes helped the Las Vegas Sun win a Pulitzer earlier this year.
* Actually:: Heikes emailed the Neon Tommy reporter that the Weekly has many more than six fulltimers: "If I told you six full-time employees, I misspoke badly. The Weekly has more than three times that number, which includes reporters and editors and copy editors, designers, web team, listings reporters and so on." Among them are music editor Randall Roberts and web editor Erin Broadley.
Photo of Heikes: Kevin Grant / Neon Tommy