Matt Welch gets interviewed

and reveals his secret to getting a job with the LA Times

Simon Owens: How did you become an opinion editor for the Los Angeles Times? Is there any interesting story behind it?

Matt Welch: The funny thing is that I still don’t really know the answer to your question. I was perfectly happy at Reason magazine, among many other reasons because they actively encourage staffers to write for other publications. So I made the conscious effort to A) write for the Times as much as possible, and B) try to convince them, in my way, to take me on as one of their 10 regular columnists.

In the process of writing a half-dozen columns, and attempting to understand the impenetrable bureaucracy on Spring Street, I met with various editors three or four times. At one of those last meetings, I finally hooked up with Andres Martinez, who had recently replaced Michael Kinsley, and with whom I share a good friend and ex-colleague, the incomparable John Allison of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (who worked on my paper in Prague). John had been chatting Andres & I up about each other for a year, but we’d always managed to miss each other … finally we met up, the conversation turned to the section, and broader ideas….

And before you know it they offered me a three-month “visiting fellowship” to sit on their editorial board. I figured I’d be open to it, even though the prospect of writing editorials full-time struck me as pretty weird, personally. Somewhere in there they asked if I’d be interested in having a full-time job on the board, and I said no.

Not long after, they described a new position that didn’t yet exist, where I’d sit on the board & write editorials, but also edit the things, and also write the occasional op-ed, and also solicit & edit op-eds … and also help work on their website. Sounded kind of complicated and open-ended, so I was immediately intrigued…. And I very much liked Andres and his #2 Michael Newman, and liked the general change of direction the section had taken the previous 1-2 years … and the price was nice, so I said yes.

Not a very interesting story, I agree. I guess the coolest part for me was that it was the first time in my memory that my extended work in the obscurity of Central European English-language newspapering actually helped me. When I first returned from there, and applied for jobs everywhere (including the L.A. Times), they all just kind of shook their heads sadly, or looked at me with irritable bewilderment. But now my Prague connection finally paid off!

read the entire interview here.

Leave a Reply