Jon Thurber, the Los Angeles Times book editor since 2010, is leaving the paper at the end of the summer. He's one of the few remaining 40-year employees, having started as a copy boy back when boys ran copy for grizzled editors. More recently Thurber was the obituary staff editor for 11 years before briefly pulling a stint as managing editor for the front page. He moved to books, despite no previous experience in the section, after David Ulin moved to critic from editor in 2010. This morning's note from Times editor Davan Maharaj is silent on what Thurber may be going off to do, or on the future of the books staff.
From: Maharaj, Davan
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2012 10:29 AM
Subject: Jon Thurber
To the Staff:
After four decades at The Times marked by distinguished work, our colleague Jon Thurber has decided to leave the paper at the beginning of the summer.
Jon has been the Books editor since 2010, and has been a steady guide of that important part of our mission, helping to shape daily and Sunday newspaper coverage as well as develop special sections for holiday books and summer reading.
But his long career here – which began in September 1971, when Richard Nixon was president – has included work in a wide range of areas that reflect his broad interest and curiosity about the world and the craft of journalism.
He began as a clerk on the Foreign Desk and later did stints as copy editor, news editor and deputy editor of World Report, a weekly foreign news section that the paper published in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Through much of the 1990s, Jon was in charge of the news, copy and production desks for the Calendar section and, eventually, for all our feature sections. He also edited Calendar’s coverage of jazz, one of his many areas of expertise.
Jon was the paper’s obituary editor from the late 1990s through 2009 and helped build the coverage into some of the best in the country. He personally wrote more than 400 obits during his time as editor and, in 2004, won the LA Times Editorial Award for assignment editing.
In 2009, he was named managing editor, print, and during the year that followed, worked closely with Russ on a number of newsroom initiatives.
Jon will be around for a few weeks, which should give all of us time to express our gratitude to him.
--Davan and Alice
Alice is Alice Short, assistant managing editor on the features floor of the newsroom.