New Editors Hired in LA and Seattle

West Coast Village Voice Media papers name newsroom heads.

LA Weekly announced on Oct. 18 that Gourmet Magazine Executive Editor Laurie Ochoa has been hired to replace longtime Editor Sue Horton.

A native Californian, Ochoa is a former Weekly scribe who left the paper in 1988 after working there for four years, first as an intern and later as a writer and an editor.

Following her stint at the Weekly, Ochoa worked at the Los Angles Times for 11 years, climbing from calendar section writer to food section editor. In 1998, she left the West Coast for her present position in New York with Gourmet. She will rejoin the Weekly in February.

Horton announced her resignation in August after more than six years at the Weekly. President Michael Sigman credited her with bringing a strong focus on investigative journalism to the paper. She will be leaving in late November to accept a journalism fellowship at the University of Maryland, where she will examine issues relating to the American teenager. No interim editor has been named.

Meanwhile, up the coast at a second Village Voice Media paper, the Seattle Weekly has hired Audrey Van Buskirk to succeed Knute “Skip” Berger as editor. Van Buskirk, presently editor of AAN member Santa Fe Reporter, is slated to begin her new job on Nov. 27.

Seattle Weekly Publisher Alisa Cromer said Van Buskirk received favorable references from her bosses and her newsroom staff, but she was most impressed by Van Buskirk’s defense of Wen Ho Lee, a Chinese-American scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who was indicted on charges of espionage. Before Dr. Lee was exonerated, most papers merely parroted government accusations. Cromer said it was “brave” of Van Buskirk to speak out against the government’s position.

“I was really impressed with the work that she did in Santa Fe,” Cromer said. “Especially the decision to investigate the Wen Ho [Lee] story. … She has a very good intuitive feel for the marketplace and which stories are relevant in a particular city.”

Cromer also said the Portland native is a “strong visual editor” who can lead the Weekly through an impending redesign.

Van Buskirk said she wants to make the paper more “topical” and “irreverent.” She also wants to improve its arts coverage. “I think the Weekly has made great strides in its cultural side … but I think there’s still room to improve,” Van Buskirk said.

Cromer is also a relative newcomer to the Seattle Weekly. After more than four years at Orlando Weekly, she joined the paper as publisher in August.

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