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Times' magazine falls victim to cuts

The paper's business side is finalizing plans for a new incarnation of the publication with a different staff.

June 11, 2008|By a Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Times editorial staff will stop producing its money-losing monthly magazine after the July issue, Editor Russ Stanton said Tuesday.

The paper's business side was finalizing plans for a new incarnation of the magazine under the direction of the Los Angeles Times Media Group, according to Stanton and Publisher David Hiller. The Media Group publishes several other titles outside of the newsroom, including Hoy, MetroMix and the Times Community Newspapers.

Stanton said he made the decision reluctantly. When he was appointed editor in February, he acknowledged that the paper would need to "walk away" from some areas of its coverage because of budget pressures.

"I had a hunch when I took this job that the magazine was going to be difficult to maintain, and the more I learned about it, given the challenges we're facing as a paper and a website, it became clear that it was impossible," Stanton said.

Since the 1960s the newspaper has published a Sunday magazine in various forms, although mostly as a weekly. It had been known as West in its early days and again in more recent years before being retitled and scaled back to a monthly.

"Despite the gallant efforts of our writers and editors, we haven't cracked the code on doing a successful magazine," Hiller said. He noted that Sunday magazines had become "an endangered species" amid cutbacks across the reeling newspaper industry.

The Times' magazine became a flash point for controversy in 1999, before the paper was owned by Tribune Co., because of an undisclosed deal to share ad revenue with Staples Center.

Hiller said executives were discussing ideas for a new magazine with its own staff independent of the newspaper's editorial department. The publication, which could debut as early as August, would be renamed and carry a disclaimer stating that it was not produced by The Times' newsroom, Hiller said.

Stanton, in an e-mail to The Times' editorial staff, said, "We want to make sure that the public -- our readers and the subjects of the stories included -- are not confused about who is producing the content of the magazine."

Hiller declined to discuss specific plans for the magazine, but said Annie Gilbar, a former editor of InStyle and L.A. Style magazines and a onetime host on the Home Shopping Network, was "the leading candidate" to be named the top editor. Gilbar is also an author of several advice books, including "Wedding Sanity Savers."

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