The Los Angeles Times editors call Sasha Frere-Jones "one of the leading voices of our time on music, language and culture." He will be a cultural critic at large at the Times and, interestingly, not report to anyone on the arts or culture side. He will report to S. Mitra Kalita, the recently hired managing editor for editorial strategy, and I'd guess this will feed the internal chatter that a parallel staff is forming around Kalita, who this month hired a reporter to cover Black Twitter, and around some of publisher Austin Beutner's other outside-the-box digital hires such as Jose Antonio Vargas. For what it's worth, I've started to hear that some in the newsroom see Kalita as a potential editor-in-waiting, which doesn't have to be true to be interesting that people in the building are thinking it.
Here's editor Davan Maharaj's (and Kalita's) memo on Frere-Jones.
From: Maharaj, Davan
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 4:58 AM
Subject: Sasha Frere-Jones
We are pleased to announce that Sasha Frere-Jones, one of the leading voices of our time on music, language and culture, is joining the Los Angeles Times.
Sasha will be a cultural critic at large and help us launch an entertainment-focused digital vertical. He will report to Mitra and will work closely with colleagues across the newsroom to increase our efforts and relevance in these key areas of coverage.
Sasha was most recently an executive editor at Genius. He was a staff writer at the New Yorker from 2004 to 2015, and before that wrote for the Village Voice, Spin, the New York Times and many others. He was a founding member of the band Ui, which released five albums and toured the U.S.and Europe from 1990 to 2010. He is also a frequent guest on public radio. Sasha, who was raised in New York City and has two sons, will move to Los Angeles this month and start work July 27.
Sasha’s writing is as felt and textured as the music it describes. His criticism started with discussions of lo-fi bands and Brooklyn MCs. Over the years, he has written with equal precision and passion about Beyoncé, fountain pens, Timbaland, ringtones, Brian Eno, Mariah Carey, Rachel Kushner, John Cage, M.I.A., Yves Klein's blue and the ideal bodega sandwich. His interest in culture's transformation in the digital age is matched by a deep commitment to L.A. as a pivot for national discussions. As he told us, “The age of East versus West is over.”
We’re fortunate to have his voice – in beats and prose, pages and podcasts – among us. Please join us in welcoming Sasha (and on Twitter as @sfj) warmly.
--Davan and Mitra