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Maer Roshan named editor in chief of Los Angeles magazine

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Maer Roshan has been named the new editor in chief of Los Angeles magazine. In 2002, he launched the irreverent pop culture magazine Radar, which spawned a successful website.
(Sarah Davidson / Los Angeles magazine)

Maer Roshan has been named the new editor in chief of Los Angeles magazine, becoming the ninth editor of the city’s premier monthly publication since its founding in 1961.

Roshan, 51, brings a lengthy résumé in print and digital media to the city magazine, which delivers a mix of service journalism, investigative reporting and long-form feature writing covering all aspects of life in Southern California.

In an interview with The Times, Roshan said he had jumped at the opportunity to take the reins at the magazine.

“To get the chance to run Los Angeles magazine just seemed so exciting because I think we’re in an era where L.A. is so exciting,” said Roshan, who began stepping into his role last week. “There used to be a time when New York and D.C. were setting the agenda, and I think it’s undeniable that the pendulum has really swung west. L.A. is in some ways the capital of the country now in terms of tech and politics and culture and all of that.”

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In the 1990s, Roshan served as deputy editor of New York magazine and later was named editorial director of the short-lived Talk magazine. In 2002, he launched the irreverent pop culture magazine Radar, which spawned a successful website and was nominated for a General Excellence award by the American Society of Magazine Editors in 2008. Radar folded its magazine in 2008.

We should be measuring ourselves against places like New York magazine and Vanity Fair that are a forum for great long-form writing and reporting.
Maer Roshan

More recently, Roshan launched the addiction-and-recovery news site The Fix in 2011 and, in 2013, founded a Los Angeles-based editorial-and-creative consultancy called Awesome Projects that has served clients including Snapchat and Telepictures. Since 2016, he has served as editor of FourTwoNine, a California-based men’s magazine and website.

“Maer’s robust media experience, creative spirit and enthusiasm for Los Angeles make him the perfect editor to lead our storied brand into the future,” Los Angeles magazine publisher Josef Vann said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have him here.”

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Born in Tehran, Roshan is a relative newcomer to Los Angeles, having moved to the city from New York in 2013. As a longtime New Yorker, Roshan acknowledged that for years he held certain stereotypes of Los Angeles in his head.

“If you’re used to New York or D.C., you have a certain idea of what cities look like – and early on in my 20s, I was like, ‘L.A. isn’t even really a city,’ ” he said. “But it’s been interesting to discover all these communities that have different personalities. That’s also an opportunity that I see: to explore the diversity that’s here that seems to be such a test for the way this whole country is going. As a journalist, it’s just so interesting to be able to cover that.”

Roshan’s appointment ends a six-month vacancy at the top of the magazine, which has recently undergone a period of turbulence.

Last February, Los Angeles magazine’s then-owner, Emmis Communications Corp., sold it, along with Orange Coast magazine and two other regional publications, to Hour Media Group for $6.5 million. A number of top editors at the magazine were laid off, including editor in chief Mary Melton and editor at large Amy Wallace. Executive editor Matthew Segal stepped in to run the magazine before leaving in August.

Roshan acknowledged that the magazine faces the same business challenges that have beset the broader publishing industry and that have fallen particularly hard on local and regional publications. In 2017, the alternative newspaper L.A. Weekly was sold to new owners who laid off much of the staff, while the local news site LAist was abruptly shut down before eventually being revived last year by public media outlet KPCC.

“Like most media ventures, we have to adjust to more modest budgets,” said Roshan, who hopes to bring both new writers and veteran contributors into the magazine’s fold. “But I guess because I’ve done start-ups I’m more used to working with modest budgets, and I’ve learned to do a lot with them. There’s a lot of great talent here, and I think the morale is good. When people are all working on the same belief and toward the same goal, they get excited.”

Citing outgoing New York magazine editor Adam Moss as an inspiration, Roshan is aiming to expand the reach of the magazine and its website by pushing them in a more topical and news-driven direction, while finding fresh ways to guide readers toward places to eat and things to do in the city.

“I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t have a pretty sharp vision of what the magazine should be,” he said. “It should widen its focus and its scope. To start with, you have to make sure you have all the local bases covered and become a real voice in the city. But by virtue of L.A. having such international influence, Los Angeles magazine should have an international voice.

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“While local news and service is central to our mission, I don’t think we compete only with the L.A. Times or L.A. Weekly,” he said. “I think moving forward we should be measuring ourselves against places like New York magazine and Vanity Fair that are a forum for great long-form writing and reporting and great visuals — gold-standard magazines with a national impact.”

Pointing to the Los Angeles Times, which has expanded its newsroom in recent months since being purchased last year by biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, Roshan expressed optimism about Los Angeles magazine further boosting the resurgence of local journalism.

“I think this is an exciting moment for L.A. media, and that’s good for the city,” he said. “This is a world-class city, and it deserves world-class media.”

josh.rottenberg@latimes.com

Twitter: @joshrottenberg


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