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LA Weekly Editor Drex Heikes stepping down

October 24, 2011 | 11:47 am

The editor of the LA Weekly told his staff Monday that he is stepping down after two years on the job.

Drex Heikes, who led the news outlet to increases in both print and online readership, said he plans to take a break before pursuing other interests in journalism. Heikes said the alternative paper’s parent company, Village Voice Media, has known for “some time” that he planned to leave the job.

His successor was not immediately known.

Heikes announced his departure at the Weekly’s regular staff meeting Monday morning. He told the outlet’s reporters and editors he was proud of the awards the publication had won and of a 22% readership increase in print since his arrival in 2009, along with a 36% increase in online readership.

“We have a terrific staff in place,” Heikes said. “When I sit at staff meetings now, I’m the dumbest guy in the room.”

“I've been working since age 11, when my family bought a marina in Alaska, and have never taken more than a couple of weeks off,” he said in explaining his departure. “I'm now at a point when I can afford to take a break, the first break of my life, and figure out what I want to do next.”

The editor came to the Weekly after editing a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative series at the Las Vegas Sun. The stories detailed repeated safety violations, and worker deaths, on construction sites in the midst of a Las Vegas building boom.

Heikes was second in command in the Sun newsroom.

Before that, he worked for 18 years at the Los Angeles Times. He edited The Times’ Sunday magazine and served in a number of other roles, among them as the New York-based editor of the paper’s coverage of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Heikes came to the Weekly after Phoenix-based Village Voice Media forced out his predecessor, Laurie Ochoa, over "creative differences."

Heikes last day at the paper’s Culver City offices will be Friday. It’s not known whether the company will again go outside the Weekly to find Heikes’ successor.

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-- James Rainey

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