The Los Angeles Times just announced via release and story this morning that it has hired Larry Ingrassia, who recently retired as a senior editor at the New York Times, in the newly created position of associate editor focusing on new ventures. He reports to editor Davan Maharaj, but the hire was jointly announced by Maharaj and publisher Austin Beutner (along with managing editor Marc Duvoisin), which is itself unusual for a newsroom position. In the Times' story this morning, the featured pull quote is from Beutner, not Maharaj: "Larry is going to help us create new products, new ideas, new ventures at an editorial standard that is consistent with all our brand stands for." Buzz in the newsroom yesterday about Ingrassia, who is 62, centered on whether he arrives as an heir apparent to Maharaj, or at least as a potential successor. His credentials in the newspaper business — business editor then assistant and deputy managing editor at the New York Times, after a 25-year reporting and editing career at the Wall Street Journal — certainly match or outstrip Maharaj's.
The LAT announcement says that Ingrassia will be the editorial guy who tries to attract new digital readers and turn them into revenue. His final job at the New York Times involved such new initiatives, working closely with the business side of the paper. Here's the LAT flackage:
We are delighted to announce that Larry Ingrassia is joining the Los Angeles Times as associate editor, focusing on new ventures.
The search for ways to attract digital readership and convert it into revenue is an urgent task in all news organizations today. Larry is superbly qualified to represent the newsroom in this area. He is one of the most accomplished business journalists in the country and a journalism innovator with an enviable track record.
At the New York Times, and before that at the Wall Street Journal, he oversaw journalism that won numerous Pulitzer Prizes, Polk Awards, Gerald Loeb Awards and other honors. As business editor of the New York Times, he also helped to develop highly successful digital products such as DealBook and the technology blog Bits.
Here at the L.A. Times, Larry will focus on developing editorial products with potential to unlock the revenue in our online audience. These could include more special events, email newsletters and products for targeted audiences.
He will work closely with Davan and Marc and other members of the masthead to shape our strategy in print and online. He will also help with high-level newsroom recruiting, organizational planning and other areas where his experience will be invaluable.
He will report to Davan.
At the New York Times, Larry was business editor from 2004 to 2012 and oversaw a staff of about 110 reporters and editors. Coverage he directed won five Pulitzers – one each for national reporting, international reporting and commentary, and two in explanatory reporting. His reporters won numerous other journalism prizes, including Polk and Loeb awards.
In 2009, the judges of the Loeb Awards honored Larry with the Minard Editor Award for excellence in business and economic journalism.
In 2013, Larry was named assistant managing editor for new initiatives at the New York Times. He was promoted later that year to deputy managing editor. In both roles, he was the newsroom’s senior editor working with the business side. Among other things, he oversaw the integration of the newsrooms of the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times to form the International New York Times.
Previously, Larry had a 25-year career at the Wall Street Journal, where he held a variety of positions, including assistant managing editor and Money & Investing editor. He also served as a bureau chief in London and Boston, after working as a reporter in Chicago, Minneapolis and London.
Please join us in welcoming him to Los Angeles.
Last September, while announcing masthead changes that did not include Ingrassia, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said this about Ingrassia:
Lawrence Ingrassia, who led the business desk through the great financial crisis of 2008 while producing strong investigative reporting, has told me he would like to retire at the end of the year. I will say much more about Larry in a later note. But a couple of thoughts to get the ball rolling. Besides leading some of our best coverage, he brought a generation of young reporters to the Times who have made significant contributions to every aspect of our report. Most recently, he led the transformation of The International New York Times.
Also: Maharaj penned a year-end note to subscribers that for Times watchers gives a clue as to what stories the editors valued in 2014 — and how the paper internally sees itself. It's below:
As we embark on a new year, I want to take a moment to thank you for reading and to look back at the highlights of 2014
Last year, the Los Angeles Times continued its tradition of delivering agenda-setting coverage of local, state, regional, national and international news. Our reporters and editors held officials accountable and touched readers. Our recent "Product of Mexico" series demonstrated The Times' vital role in the American conversation.
Thanks to our digital efforts -- which included a relaunch of our website that made us one of the first major news organizations to offer a fully responsive design -- we were more widely read than at any time in our 133-year history.
Your support made this outstanding journalism possible:
- We relaunched the California section as a showcase for our beat reporting, our analytical skills and our deft writing.
- We exposed how the LAPD understated crime statistics to make the city look safer, and prompted action to fix the problem.
- We exposed a culture of nepotism that helped relatives of L.A. County firefighters get coveted jobs on the force, prompting the fire chief to launch an overhaul of hiring procedures.
- We exposed a little-known scam: L.A. city employees who were abusing the city's generous injury leave policy - and costing taxpayers millions.
- We revealed how U.S. military veterans were exploiting the disability benefit system, including former soldiers older than 80 who were pulling down thousands a year because they were "unemployable."
- We delivered scoop after scoop on L.A. Unified's ill-fated, $1-billion iPad project, and by year's end the schools superintendent had been forced out and the FBI had launched a criminal investigation.
- In a series called "Grand Ambition," we chronicled the birth of a downtown skyscraper in richly reported and beautifully written pieces.
- We wrote gritty and poignant stories about the California drought, a public service that was not only journalistic but literary. One of my favorites is about two neighbors in the Central Valley, coming to terms with the drought and each other. And our maps showing the drying of the state since 2010 had more than 250,000 page views.
- We wrote lyrically and smartly about how immigration is changing the architectural face of our city.
- We brought the weight of our beat expertise to bear on the Los Angeles County supervisors and the L.A. Sheriff's Department. (Remember: It was earlier in 2014 that our reporting helped drive Sheriff Baca from office.)
- We reconstructed a federal investigation into the Native American artifact trade in Utah, capturing in vivid detail the tragedy of a sting gone bad.
- At great personal risk, our colleagues reported from Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, delivering, day after day, news, analysis and powerful features.
- We went where few journalists dared - into the Central African Republic - to give readers a series of powerfully illustrated stories that were heart-rending.
- In a two-part series, a lesson in the power of narrative, we reconstructed the last, fateful steps of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team in Arizona.
- Our Washington bureau delivered an illuminating series on the healthcare divide in America and revealing stories on the D.C.-California nexus.
- Image produced two 76-page lifestyle magazines, Travel enhanced its "Postcards From the West," and Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants guide, in digital and print, was a huge success, leading to two sold-out nights of our own event, Bite Nite.
- Our Calendar staff swarmed the downtown music festival Made in America. It also produced memorable coverage of Robin Williams' death, the Music Center anniversary and, of course, the Oscars.
- We did for our readers what the state couldn't do for its citizens - publish a searchable database of all 80,000 physicians participating in Covered California.
- We spotlighted how the nation's largest public pension fund voted to enable pension sweeteners, without calculating the burden on taxpayers, in a story about the 99 ways to boost pensions at public cost.
- We highlighted, with telling details (a small dinner party and "two bottles of good Pinot"), the cozy relationship between the PUC chief and the utilities he was supposed to regulate - leading to his announcement that he would step down.
- In a series of stories, and columns, we revealed how Tesla used government incentives to its advantage in California and Nevada.
- Our photographers roamed the globe, capturing images in Gaza while it was under attack, on "La Bestia" as it ferried Central American migrants northward, in an INS detention center in Texas, of anti-immigrant protesters in Murrieta, in Ferguson, Mo., and of drought-ravaged parts of California.
That's just a taste of what we published in 2014. I can tell you that we have a lot of great journalism in store for you in 2015.
Thank you for reading The Times and for being a subscriber. We appreciate you.
— Davan Maharaj, Editor