Los Angeles Times Business Editor Rick Wartzman is stepping down from the post to edit the paper's struggling magazine, according to an internal Times memo.


Wartzman joined the Times in September 2002 after 15 years as an editor and writer at The Wall Street Journal. He will take over from Drex Heikes, who will move to another, as-yet unannounced position within the paper.


In the staff memo, Deputy Managing Editor John Montorio lauded Wartzman for providing the business section with a "clear vision" and an emphasis on enterprise reporting. He cited a 2003 project on Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that assessed the giant chain's effect on Third World suppliers. The package won the Pulitzer Prize.

Wartzman said management asked him to edit the magazine and he accepted the offer with mixed feelings.


"I have had a great run over here. I love my staff. I am close to a lot of people on it," he said. "(But) I got the chance to do something new and different. Everything I have done in the newspaper business has been through the prism of business. The magazine is a chance for me to step out onto a broader canvas."


Wartzman said the magazine's current staff would stay on for several months after he assumes his new post while he and other editors "rethink the magazine." He declined to offer specifics.


The memo said a successor to Wartzman will be announced "shortly." Insiders at the paper said possible replacements included Senior Deputy Business Editor Russ Stanton and National Deputy Editor Tom Furlong.


In his memo, Montorio described Heikes as "heroically (holding) the magazine together through years of turmoil and scarcity."

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