Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner and editor Davan Maharaj this morning announced an edit of the managing editor level of the paper's masthead. The key news is the hiring of S. Mitra Kalita in the new role of managing editor for editorial strategy. She comes from Quartz, where she was ideas editor then executive editor at large, and "will focus on helping us remake how the newsroom works and on creating new forms of journalism," the memo says. It has been awhile since the Times has had a woman that close to the top of the management structure — used to be a number of women in power spots there. Larry Ingrassia, the former New York Times editor who joined the LAT in January, moves from associate editor to another newly created masthead slot: managing editor for new ventures. Current managing editor Marc Duvoisin remains as the senior executive overseeing the news report.
Here's the memo to the newsroom:
From: "Maharaj, Davan"
Date: March 18, 2015 at 10:16:39 AM PDT
Subject: LA Times hires Mitra Kalita from Quartz, expands newsroom leadership
To the staff:
The news environment and the needs of readers are changing more rapidly than at any time in the history of our industry. The Los Angeles Times should do more than keep pace with that change; we must strive to lead it.
To that end, we are expanding the newsroom leadership and announcing an important new hire. These moves continue our efforts to create a newsroom of the future that can innovate even as we deliver robust digital and print coverage for our readers.
The newest member of our leadership team is S. Mitra Kalita. A creative force behind the business news site Quartz, with a background in traditional journalism as well, Mitra will join The Times as managing editor for editorial strategy. She will focus on helping us remake how the newsroom works and on creating new forms of journalism.
Mitra, who will report to Davan, will be one of three managing editors in the new structure. Marc Duvoisin, as managing editor for news, will continue to be the senior editor overseeing news and enterprise coverage, a job he has done with great skill. Larry Ingrassia, currently associate editor, will become managing editor for new ventures, focusing on developing editorial products with revenue potential.
Deputy managing editor Megan Garvey, our leading digital practitioner, will also play a key role in our broader digital transformation while running all aspects of our daily digital news report.
All of us will coordinate with our colleagues on the business side as we develop new journalism efforts and offerings that strengthen us commercially. Our common mission is to maintain the editorial excellence and integrity of all we do.
The new structure is aimed at helping us build on the progress we have made by picking up the pace of change in what we do and how we do it.
Mitra will work to develop and refine new styles of journalism similar to those she helped pioneer at Quartz. Launched in 2012, Quartz is known for its lively mix of news and analysis, its Daily Brief of worldwide business news, its creative use of social media and its focus on “obsessions” of special interest to its readers rather than traditional beats. Mitra will also lead newsroom efforts as part of an enhanced effort at audience acquisition -- bringing more people to see our terrific journalism and finding new communities of readers.
Mitra has a notable record in high-quality journalism. At the Wall Street Journal, she oversaw coverage of the Great Recession, launched a local news section for New York City and reported on the housing crisis as a senior writer. In 2007, she was part of the team that created Mint, a business newspaper and website in India launched in collaboration with the Journal that has become that country’s second-largest circulated business newspaper. Before that, she worked for the Washington Post, Newsday and the Associated Press.
At Quartz, part of the Atlantic Media family, Mitra was ideas editor and, more recently, executive editor (at large). She was behind some of the site’s most viral stories, on subjects as varied as monetary policy and baby blankets, and the force behind Quartz India and the upcoming Quartz Africa. She is the author of three books related to migration and globalization and has taught at Columbia Journalism School, among other institutions. She has won numerous reporting awards and was named one of Folio’s Top 100 Women in Media for 2014.
Mitra was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in Long Island, Puerto Rico and New Jersey -- with regular trips to her grandparents’ villages in Assam, India. She speaks Spanish, Assamese and Hindi and studied Mandarin for a year. She lives in Queens, N.Y., with her artist husband and two daughters. She tweets @mitrakalita.
Please join us in welcoming Mitra to Los Angeles and The Times.
-- Austin and Davan
Twitter love for the hire of Kalita:
When traditional print publ hires its managing editor fm a digital news co,it's truly a sign that digital is mainline. Congrats @mitrakalita— Ashok Lalla (@ashoklalla) March 18, 2015
The official Twitter flackage: