LA Times looking for op-ed editor to replace Sue Horton

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Sue Horton, the op-ed editor in the Los Angeles Times opinion section since 2008, is leaving the paper on December 16 for a new job as the West Coast top news editor for Reuters. A lot of people around town know Horton in her capacity as the editor and gatekeeper on op-ed submissions, and previously as Sunday Opinion editor, as a California editor upstairs in the newsroom, and before 2000 as the editor of LA Weekly for about six years. She also taught journalism at USC Annenberg and is the author of "The Billionaire Boys Club."

She will be based in Los Angeles for Reuters, per the memo released last week.

This means the LA Times is looking for a new op-ed editor — a high-profile position that editorial page editor Nick Goldberg calls "one of the best at the paper." His memo to the staff:

To: The Staff

From: Nick Goldberg, Editorial Page Editor

As many of you have by now heard, Sue Horton is leaving The Times after more than a decade to take a job at Reuters. Sue has been a fabulous editor and a great colleague. She’s smart, funny and full of ideas and enthusiasm. I’m sad she’s leaving, and I know everyone in our department will miss her. Her last day will be Dec. 16.

Meanwhile, we have to fill her job. In my opinion, it is one of the best at the paper. Here are the details:

The op-ed editor oversees the weekday and Sunday opinion pages, determining the direction of the section; assigning, selecting and editing commentary pieces and supervising the op-ed staff. The editor works with some of the smartest, most interesting thinkers in the country. Some of them are great writers and some are people who have never before been published. Strong editing skills are essential, and a writing background is also helpful. The editor has to seek out influential thinkers and encourage them to write for the section.

The op-ed job is one for a generalist – someone who knows politics but also knows more than politics. The editor needs to have an interest in Los Angeles and California but also in national news and foreign affairs. Being op-ed editor requires a newspaper journalist’s sensibility but also that of a magazine editor, because the material on the page ranges across a wide variety of tones, styles and subjects. Over the course of a week it is likely to include analysis of straight news, interesting takes on cultural issues, satire and personal essays.

Like every job at The Times, this is a multimedia, multi-platform position. In addition to conceiving and shaping op-eds, the editor of this section needs to be thinking about Web-only features, digital projects and about how to increase the presence and popularity of The Times’ opinion content on the Internet.

It’s a serious, influential, demanding and satisfying job. Op-ed pieces require nuance and clarity and intellectual honesty, but also need to be authoritative, passionate, lively and engaging. The ideal candidate would be an experienced and imaginative editor, intrigued by controversy, provocative by nature. Because we publish a broad range of opinions, he or she needs to be open-minded, intellectually curious, not averse to working with people who have different political points of view. He or she must work well with others generally, both because it is a supervisorial position and because it involves communication and cooperation with all sorts of people in the outside world. A sense of humor wouldn’t hurt either.

Knowledge of California and Los Angeles is certainly a plus; those are issues that are extremely important on the page. If you have such background, by all means let us know. But lack of local expertise should not be an impediment to applying.

The job reports to Nick Goldberg, the Editorial Page Editor.

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