Letters From The Editor: Arts O.C. debuts today

The Daily Pilot does a decent job of covering fine arts.

I think we can do better.

The newspaper of record in the "City of the Arts" caters to a sophisticated bunch of readers who enjoy everything from the Segerstrom Center to South Coast Repertory.

With Friday's edition, we're cementing our commitment to improving coverage of dance, theater, music, visual arts and culture. We've jettisoned the old Happenings section and replaced it with a much-improved product: Arts O.C.

We're hanging onto some Happenings favorites, such as theater critic Tom Titus, classical music columnist Bradley Zint and shopping maven Greer Wylder, but also bringing in folks who can cover ballet, popular music and trends. You'll see some of those additions today and others over time.

Instead of folding the coverage into the front, or A section, of the newspaper, Arts O.C. will become our B section on Fridays. We're also going to pepper other days of the week with more arts, culture, feature stories and improved calendar listings.

Imran Vittachi, most recently Daily Pilot city editor, is in charge of our new section. He has been named features editor for Times Community News (TCN) South, which includes the Daily Pilot and its sister publications in Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach.

Because of this community's passion for the arts, I've long felt we needed someone dedicated to our features sections, and I believe Imran is up to the task. For evidence of that, read his well-written cover story about the history of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in our debut section. We also have a nice preview of the San Francisco Ballet's Segerstrom appearance by a new contributor, Heather Youmans, whose deep knowledge of dance is right on pointe.

You'll also see a new look. Thank TCN's art director, Hamlet Nalbandyan, for that. He created the new arts section, giving it a crisp, modern look.

While he was at it, Hamlet cleaned up the front page of the Daily Pilot and our other publications by eliminating and modifying graphic elements to make more room for what readers (and editors) want: stories and photographs.

Speaking of news, we have a new person in charge of content. Jamie Rowe, most recently web editor for TCN South, has been named Daily Pilot city editor.

Jamie, who has worked in our newsroom for four years, is energetic, organized, dogged, whip-smart, fair-minded and committed to journalism in the public interest. Instead of reciting her résumé, I'll refer you to the best example of her work: the revamped Daily Pilot website, where her tireless updates and improvements doubled online traffic in a year's time.

I hope you enjoy our new creation as much as we have enjoyed giving it life.

JOHN CANALIS is editor of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, Daily Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and john.canalis@latimes.com.

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