California Section Editor
The Wall Street Journal
Early in his journalism career, Rick Wartzman got a break.
Having just finished his freshman year at Northwestern University, Wartzman landed an internship on the Baltimore News American, a Hearst-owned newspaper at the time teetering on closure.
With the paper’s regular staff reporters fleeing in search of more stable employment, Wartzman found himself, at age 18, with assignments that many reporters spend years working toward.
“I was covering the federal courts, health care, major murder investigations,” he recalls. “There was just no one around to do anything.”
Wartzman, now 31, parlayed that experience into an internship the following summer at the Wall Street Journal’s Pittsburgh bureau where, two jobs and a college degree later, he was picked up as a full-time staffer in 1987.
In 1989, the paper sent Wartzman to Los Angeles to cover the faltering aerospace and defense industries. That work evolved into a book deal on scandals in the U.S. defense industry and into another job offer.
“In 72 hours, I got the book offer, the job offer, and my wife found out she was pregnant,” Wartzman says. The family and new job to cover the White House for the Wall Street Journal won out, and he dropped the book-writing project.
Wartzman worked in Washington until the summer of 1995, when he was made the paper’s Houston bureau chief, a post he held for less than a year before being tapped to serve as founding editor of the paper’s weekly California section.
In addition to editing the section, Wartzman writes a regular column on the California economy.
Wartzman wouldn’t speculate on future opportunities at the Journal, though he added: “I’d be dishonest if I said I don’t think about what’s ahead. But I’m having a great ride. Things have fallen into the right place.”