Despite Reports of Internal Objections, L.A. Times Readies Relaunch of Monthly Magazine
Founding editor of InStyle takes reins as business side takes control.
The Los Angeles Times announced today that LA, its new monthly Sunday magazine with an unusual operating arrangement, will debut on September 7.
LA will be distributed only within the Sunday Los Angeles Times and is a standalone editorial operation, separate from the newspaper. Last month, the company moved to shift control of the magazine from the paper’s newsroom to its business operations staff, change its name and replace the entire editorial staff.
The launch signals "a serious intent to competitively engage in the Southern California marketplace"—alongside Los Angeles, Angeleno, L.A. Confidential, C and Venice magazines—the Times says.
Annie Gilbar, former editor-in-chief of LAStyle magazine and one of the founding editors of InStyle, has been named editor. Valarie Anderson, director of fashion advertising for the Los Angeles Times, will serve as publisher while retaining her role at the paper.
The Times has an average paid Sunday circulation of 1,231,318, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
"We don’t have to worry about a cover not selling on a newsstand," Gilbar told FOLIO: Monday. "But every time someone gets a copy of it in the newspaper, you want them to go, ‘Wow!’ That’s our goal." The first issue—focused on fall fashion—will have approximately140 pages, about half of them ads. The magazine typically ran 60 to 70 pages, Gilbar said. "I already have 94 pages of edit," she said. "At this point, I’m probably going to have to cut a lot."
The latest changes come about a year and half after the company scaled back frequency on Los Angeles Times Magazine, then a weekly publication. It was renamed West, but the name was eventually scrapped.
In a recent memo to the staff, L.A. Times editor Russ Stanton conceded that the magazine "has lost money for years and is on track to post another significant loss in 2008."
"I have come to the reluctant conclusion that, even as a monthly, the magazine is something we cannot afford to continue at a time of diminishing newsroom resources," Hiller wrote.
"The magazine has had so many incarnations," Gilbar said Monday. "It had always been produced by the newsroom, not a magazine staff—magazine people do magazines. It takes a very different sensibility to be a magazine editor."
"It’s not going to be an investigative magazine," she said.
All of this, according to a report in the New York Times, despite objections raised by editors, who were not involved in—and at least some unaware—the publisher’s new plan for the title. Gilbar, though, said the magazine was "no secret" and that the Tribune Company, which owns the Times, is "totally behind" the project.
"For the first time in its history, they’re going to have a magazine that is going to make money," Gilbar said. "When a newspaper is bleeding, and you have something that will lift the newspaper immediately, why not?"