Times names new entertainment editor, brings back Laurie Ochoa *

ochoa-donnelly-slake.jpgJohn Corrigan, the business editor of the Los Angeles Times, is moving over to succeed Sallie Hofmeister as assistant managing editor in charge of arts and entertainment. Laurie Ochoa, mostly recently the co-founder of Slake and a fill-in editor at The Hollywood Reporter — and before that the editor of LA Weekly — is coming back to the Times as Arts and Entertainment Editor. She worked in the Calendar and Food sections before leaving to become executive editor of Gourmet magazine, then went to LA Weekly. She left there in 2009, after some drama. Ochoa is married to food writer Jonathan Gold, who was recruited to the Times from LA Weekly in February, and she will become the third ex-Weekly editor in chief to be holding down a job at the Times. Drex Heikes, who followed Ochoa at the Weekly, is an editor on the LAT National desk and Sue Horton is the Op-Ed and Sunday Opinion Editor. [Horton added.]

Finally, television critic Mary McNamara was promoted to senior culture editor, "a new position in which McNamara will help generate coverage areas and story ideas," the Times says in a news story. She will continue to "do television criticism."

From editor Davan Maharaj's memo to the staff:

John [Corrigan] brings a wealth of experience and energy to his new role. As Business editor, he led a team of reporters and editors in making our financial report a model: a combination of elegant features, hard-hitting investigative stories, and quick-hit breaking news on our blogs. John collaborated with our Company Town team and sharpened our focus on technology and social media -- helping to bring millions of new readers to Tech Now.

He has shown a particular ability to work with top-flight reporters and editors. John edited the 2003 series “The Wal-Mart Effect,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. He directed The Times’ coverage of Ameriquest, which was praised by the Columbia Journalism Review as a rare warning from the business press before the mortgage meltdown. He oversaw our coverage of Toyota’s sudden-acceleration crisis, for which reporters Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian won a Loeb Award. He worked with Ken again this year on the ground-breaking Wheels of Fortune series. We will learn in a few days if that has won a Loeb as well.

As a film and television major at Loyola Marymount University, John specialized in screenwriting and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine and communication arts. His passion for music is evident whenever he cuts loose on his Stratocaster in the band Blue Cube....

Laurie [Ochoa] brings a broad knowledge of L.A.’s cultural scene, a keen story sense and a proven commitment to producing the highest-quality journalism on the Web and in print. Writers and editors who have worked with her praise her ability to bring out their best work.

* Update: This is interesting. Craig Turner, the previous Arts and Entertainment Editor (under Hofmeister), posted on his Facebook page today that the Corrigan and Ochoa moves were coming. He added a bombshell that, if true, says a lot about the paper's financial plight these days. No more print Business section, he predicts:

Marla Dickerson apparently will take over the business job, moving up from the deputy slot. Meanwhile, it looks like the Business section is being downgraded again, and will cease to exist as a stand-alone section, folding into the A section. As a result, Calendar will get some later deadlines and all the Company Town stories--on business of entertainment--will appear in Calendar, not Business.

Turner has only been gone a few months, and no doubt sat in many meetings (or heard about them from a first-hand source) where crashing the Business section was discussed. Despite grand praise today from Maharaj, the Business section has been withering away. Once a major pride of the Times, most of its stars have moved on and many days the print section just looks to be hanging on.

Turner had one more little bomblet: Asked by a Facebook friend about the too-long vacant managing editor position, Turner replied: "Few people want the job. Marc Duvoisin is still the odds-on favorite and may be the only person left in the newsroom who would take the job." Duvoisin is the deputy managing editor for projects and enterprise.

Photo: Ochoa and Slake co-founder Joe Donnelly

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