Wall Street Journal's L.A. Chief To Lead Hispanic Tabloid Chain

By PAT MAIO
Staff Reporter

The Los Angeles bureau of the Wall Street Journal is in the midst of another shakeup, as Bureau Chief Jonathan Friedland has announced his departure to help launch a chain of Spanish-language tabloid dailies in the Western United States.

Friedland, who has headed up the Los Angeles bureau since April 2000 and was the Journal's bureau chief in Buenos Aires and in Mexico City, declined to discuss the move. His last day with the paper will be March 31.

In a March 20 e-mail sent to Journal employees, Managing Editor Paul Steiger wrote that Friedland was leaving to join former Journal colleague Edward Schumacher at New York-based Meximerica Media.

"He'll be group managing editor of the enterprise, responsible for editorial operations," Steiger wrote.

Schumacher left the Journal in June 2003 after nine years to become Meximerica's chief executive and editorial director. He declined comment.

Friedland's departure from the Journal's 17-member L.A. editorial staff is the second in recent months. Reporter Eduardo Porter also moved East, to join The New York Times.

Porter's move to the Times came on the heels of that paper's hiring of Lawrence Ingrassia, a longtime editor of the Journal's Money & Investing section, as its new business editor.

A year and a half ago, Rick Wartzman, who had edited the Journal's California Journal section, left the local bureau to become business editor of the Los Angeles Times.

One leading contender for the bureau chief's position is believed to be Bruce Orwall, a long-time Journal reporter who covers the entertainment industry. Orwall declined comment.

"A replacement hasn't been named yet," said Nicole Pyhel, a spokeswoman for Journal parent Dow Jones & Co. "We won't comment on any specific candidates or whether any candidates are external or internal."

Friedland may reappear in Southern California. Under Schumacher, who played a key role in the growth of the Wall Street Journal Americas, the newspaper's Spanish and Portuguese pages edited for Latin America distribution, Meximerica plans to launch newspapers in San Antonio, Austin and Houston, before expanding to California sometime within the next year.

Monica Lozano, publisher and chief executive of La Opinion, the nation's biggest Spanish-language daily, said she had not heard of Meximerica Media. She did say her newspaper had been contacted a year ago by a Florida-based investment group to gauge its interest in participating in a national chain of Spanish-language papers.

According to Meximerica's Web site, the startup has assembled unnamed institutional investors in the U.S. and Mexico, and is aimed at Mexicans and Mexican-Americans living in the United States, particularly in "several Southwestern and Western cities."

The areas in which Meximerica Media plans to initially launch its papers might be an indicator of the kinds of "secondary markets" the new chain may consider once it sets its sights on California, Lozano speculated.

How close the new venture will get to the Los Angeles market is not known. La Opinion is already engaged in a battle with the Tribune Co.'s tabloid Hoy, which made its debut this month.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.