Books Editor Jon Thurber announces retirement from Los Angeles Times

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After more than four decades at the Los Angeles Times, Jon Thurber has announced he will be leaving the newspaper. Thurber joined The Times in 1971, starting out as a clerk on the foreign desk; since 2010, he has been books editor.

In an email to staff, Times Editor Davan Maharaj and Assistant Managing Editor for Features Alice Short noted Thurber’s guidance in developing special holiday book sections and shaping Sunday books coverage. He is expected to continue in his position until early summer.


Prior to becoming books editor, Thurber was managing editor, print; he worked closely with then-Editor Russ Stanton on a number of newsroom initiatives. He had previously been obituary editor for 11 years.

The official notice to staff is after the jump.

To the Staff:

After four decades at The Times marked by distinguished work, our colleague Jon Thurber has decided to leave the paper at the beginning of the summer.

Jon has been the Books editor since 2010, and has been a steady guide of that important part of our mission, helping to shape daily and Sunday newspaper coverage as well as develop special sections for holiday books and summer reading.

But his long career here – which began in September 1971, when Richard Nixon was president – has included work in a wide range of areas that reflect his broad interest and curiosity about the world and the craft of journalism.

He began as a clerk on the Foreign Desk and later did stints as copy editor, news editor and deputy editor of World Report, a weekly foreign news section that the paper published in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Through much of the 1990s, Jon was in charge of the news, copy and production desks for the Calendar section and, eventually, for all our feature sections. He also edited Calendar’s coverage of jazz, one of his many areas of expertise.

Jon was the paper’s obituary editor from the late 1990s through 2009 and helped build the coverage into some of the best in the country. He personally wrote more than 400 obits during his time as editor and, in 2004, won the LA Times Editorial Award for assignment editing.

In 2009, he was named managing editor, print, and during the year that followed, worked closely with Russ on a number of newsroom initiatives.

Jon will be around for a few weeks, which should give all of us time to express our gratitude to him.

--Davan and Alice