LAT

Suzanne Muchnic leaving LAT staff

suzanne-muchnic.jpgMuchnic is retiring from the arts beat at the Los Angeles Times after 31 years. At least, she's leaving the staff. She will continue to contribute as a freelance arts reporter. The memo, which follows, calls her retirement a blow and says "her departure leaves a void that simply cannot be filled." Strictly speaking, the memo is silent on whether her exit is part of the staff reductions expected this week. For what it's worth, the scenario — a full-time staffer converting to freelance contributor — fits what some in the newsroom have been expecting in this round of cuts.

Suzanne's tenure at The Times paralleled perfectly the ripening of the city's art scene. When she joined the paper, MOCA didn't exist, the Getty hadn't received its fortune, LACMA was operating out of its three original buildings and most of the galleries were clustered along La Cienega. Suzanne distinguished the paper in covering these developments, and others.

Also, longtime soft-side editor Kelly Scott becomes Arts and Culture Editor. Memo after the jump.

Photo: Scrippscollege.edu

From: Turner, Craig Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 1:57 PM To: yyEntertainAll Subject: personnel changes

To the staff:

The following two notices will go out to the newsroom staff this afternoon. To quickly sum up: Kelly Scott will succeed Lisa Fung as arts and culture editor and Suzanne Muchnic is retiring as arts reporter after 31 years at The Times.

We're greatly pleased that Kelly has agreed to take on this job at a particularly crucial time in the cultural life of the city, as outlined below. Sherry Stern will continue to work with Kelly on the desk.

Losing Suzanne is a real blow, cushioned somewhat by the fact that she has agreed to continue to contribute to Calendar as a freelancer. She is the unquestioned master of the arts scene in Southern California and a wonderful colleague. Her last day is Friday.

Please join us in congratulating Kelly on her new position and wishing Suzanne the best.

Sallie and Craig


Arts and Culture Editor, Entertainment Department

Kelly Scott, whose varied experience as an editor at The Times has included running the Sunday Calendar section, editing cover stories for the Los Angeles Times Magazine and supervising reporters on the trail during the 2008 presidential campaign, now takes on the task of expanding our already formidable coverage of arts and culture.

Effective immediately, Kelly succeeds Lisa Fung as arts and culture editor and reports to Craig Turner. Kelly has been acting in that capacity since Lisa was elevated to entertainment editor for the website. Along with deputy editor Sherry Stern, Kelly has supervised our coverage and criticism of museums, fine arts, theater, architecture, dance, opera and classical music and shepherded the popular Culture Monster blog.

Lisa and her staff of writers, bloggers and critics made The Times the region's authoritative voice on cultural issues, and Kelly will now build on that legacy. She takes over at an especially propitious time, as Los Angeles matures as a cultural capital, prepares for the citywide Ring Festival and becomes the focus of international attention for the musical exploits of Gustavo Dudamel. This is a great opportunity for us to expand readership and enhance our coverage.

Since joining The Times in 1990, Kelly has worked in a variety of editing positions in entertainment, news and features. She previously served as movie editor and Sunday editor in Calendar, as editor of the Home section and as executive editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine. From 2006 until early this year she was an assistant national editor, working with national correspondents and the Washington bureau and on the 2008 presidential campaign.

Kelly is a graduate of the University of Kansas. Her first job was at the St. Petersburg Times, where she worked as a metro reporter, feature writer, film and pop music critic and assistant features editor. She also freelanced for Time magazine and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and from 1987 to 1990 was an entertainment editor at Newsday.

Kelly lives in South Pasadena with her two children, aged 13 and 15, and two incorrigible dogs.

Sallie Hofmeister, assistant managing editor, arts and entertainment

Craig Turner, arts and entertainment editor


Suzanne Muchnic

We have some bittersweet news to share: After 31 years at The Times, Suzanne Muchnic has decided to retire as arts reporter in the Entertainment Group. We are delighted for Suzanne, who will have more time to travel, write books and spend with her husband, who is already retired. But her departure leaves a void that simply cannot be filled. Suzanne takes with her a vast institutional knowledge and authority that comes from chronicling the city's transformation into a global art center over three decades. Gratefully, The Times will not lose her voice entirely, as Suzanne will be a regular contributor to Calendar.

Suzanne's tenure at The Times paralleled perfectly the ripening of the city's art scene. When she joined the paper, MOCA didn't exist, the Getty hadn't received its fortune, LACMA was operating out of its three original buildings and most of the galleries were clustered along La Cienega. Suzanne distinguished the paper in covering these developments, and others.

Her coverage earned her the Distinguished Alumna Awards from Scripps College and Claremont Graduate University and first prize for arts and entertainment reporting from the greater Los Angeles Press Club. Her book on Norton Simon won the 2002 Donald Pflueger Local History Award of the Historical Society of Southern California.

As a critic, Suzanne was no pushover. A few years after she joined the paper in 1981 came the Great Manure Dump. An artist responded to Suzanne's critique of his work by unloading 10 tons of horse manure in the middle of First Street in front of The Times' main entrance. The pile tied up traffic and attracted national press coverage.

As a reporter, Suzanne took readers to all corners of the world to give art its proper context. From Moscow in 1988, she reported on the Soviet Union's first auction of long-repressed Russian avant-garde and contemporary Soviet art, conducted by Sotheby's, introducing many works of art to an international audience. In the '90s, she traveled to the world's oldest continuously operating Christian monastery, St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, to write about the ancient home of icons and other artworks lent to an exhibition at the Getty. She also accompanied a Getty Conservation Institute project to China to report on the restoration of the world's richest trove of ancient Buddhist wall paintings and sculptures in a complex of art-filled caves along a riverbed in the Gobi Desert.

Suzanne's last day is Dec. 18. Please join us in sending her good wishes for her new life.

Sallie Hofmeister, assistant managing editor, arts and entertainment

Craig Turner, arts and entertainment editor



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