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Kit Rachlis

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Kit Rachlis

Kit Rachlis
File:Rachlis by Casey.jpg
Photo by Forest Casey, Los Angeles, CA
Born Christopher Rachlis
(1951-12-27) December 27, 1951 (age 62)
Education Yale
Occupation Editor
Notable credit(s) Editor-in-chief, The American Prospect (2011-), Los Angeles magazine (2000-2009); editor-in chief, LA Weekly (1988-1993),

Kit Rachlis (born December 27, 1951) is an American journalist and editor who has held top posts at The Village Voice, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles magazine. In April 2011, he became editor of The American Prospect magazine, a leading liberal political monthly based in Washington, D.C. Rachlis is best known as a practitioner of the long-form nonfiction narrative, a literary tradition that has been dubbed "an endangered species" as newspapers and magazines have struggled to adapt to the digital age.[1]

Early life and family

Rachlis is the son of Eugene Rachlis, an author, book publisher, and magazine editor, and Mary Katherine (Mickey) Rachlis, an economics correspondent for the Journal of Commerce who wrote under the byline M.K. Sharp.[2] He was born in Paris, France, where his father was serving as press attaché for the Marshall Plan, and raised in New York City. He attended Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned a B.A. in American studies from Yale in 1975.[3]

Early career

Rachlis entered journalism as a pop music critic, reviewing albums for Rolling Stone that included 1970s works by Bob Dylan, Blondie, The Cars, Tom Waits, and Elvis Costello.[4] His critique of Neil Young was included in Greil Marcus's Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island. [5] From 1977 to 1984, Rachlis was music editor and arts editor of the alternative weekly Boston Phoenix, then went on to serve as executive editor of The Village Voice until 1988.

Career at LA Weekly

In 1988, Rachlis moved cross-country to become editor-in-chief of the fledgling and flamboyant LA Weekly. Under his direction it earned a reputation as a bastion of smart and stylish writing, and his hires, including Harold Meyerson, Steve Erickson, and Tom Carson, would become some of the city’s most sophisticated cultural and political voices.[6]

Although he was widely credited with professionalizing the paper and cementing its journalistic credibility, some colleagues felt that Rachlis's sensibilities were too mainstream for the rambunctious alt-weekly universe. Former columnist Marc Cooper would later write that under Rachlis the Weekly became "more slick, professional, better-edited but flatter, less willing to gamble and risk." [7]

In 1993, Rachlis was fired in a power struggle with publisher Michael Sigman. At least half a dozen Rachlis loyalists resigned in protest, including Michael Ventura, John Powers, Ruben Martinez, and Ella Taylor, as well as Carson and Erickson.[6]

Career at Los Angeles Times

Rachlis joined the L.A. Times in 1994, first as a senior editor at the paper's Sunday magazine, then as a senior projects editor with oversight of the "Literary Team," an elite stable of feature writers freed from the bonds of daily journalism. It was during this period that Rachlis's renown as a "writer's editor" took on legendary proportions, as he would use his position to grant reporters months or even a year to produce stories that routinely approached 10,000 words and occasionally exceeded 20,000. Rachlis had a hand in J.R. Moehringer's Pulitzer Prize-winning feature about the community of Gee's Bend, Alabama, in 1999. When Moehringer later wrote his bestselling memoir The Tender Bar, he saluted Rachlis in the acknowledgments as "The Master." [8] Rachlis also worked closely with national correspondent Barry Siegel, a future Pulitzer winner who would later be named director of the literary journalism program at the University of California, Irvine.

Career at Los Angeles magazine

Rachlis was lured away from the newspaper business in 2000 by media conglomerate Emmis Communications, which had just bought Los Angeles magazine for more than $30 million and was seeking an editor-an-chief with the literary credentials to reinvigorate what had become a notoriously fickle publication. The New York Times, noting that Rachlis was the fourth editor in five years, said the magazine had been through "more makeovers than Cher." [9] Rather than rely on freelancers, Rachlis made it his first order of business to create a home on the payroll for staff writers, raiding the L.A. Times for veteran reporters Amy Wallace and Jesse Katz, and later adding Dave Gardetta and Steve Oney to the masthead. The magazine's newfound heft was evidenced by Wallace's 13,000-word profile of Variety editor Peter Bart in 2001, a story that accused Bart of boorish and unethical behavior, and that resulted in his suspension.[10]

Although Rachlis would encounter critics on all sides—those who thought the magazine was still frothy and those who thought it had grown ponderous—he guided it to an unprecedented run of success, both critical and commercial. During his tenure, Los Angeles was a finalist for seven National Magazine Awards and earned more City and Regional Magazine Association awards, including 31 gold medals, than any other publication in the country.[11] Numerous articles edited by Rachlis made their way to anthologies, including Best American Magazine Writing, Best American Crime Writing, Best American Sports Writing, and Best American Essays.

The crisis that began rocking the American economy in 2008 took a heavy toll on Los Angeles magazine, as it did most print media. After celebrating the most lucrative year in the magazine's history, Rachlis was suddenly forced to preside over successive rounds of layoffs and salary reductions. On May 15, 2009, citing his "restlessness" in an e-mail to the staff, he announced his resignation, effective June 26. Emmis, which named

Career at The American Prospect

In 2011, Rachlis was named editor of The American Prospect, the monthly political journal founded by Robert Kuttner, Robert Reich, and Paul Starr. According to its website, the magazine is committed "to working toward a society in which everyone gets a fair shot and is treated equally and with respect by our institutions."[14]


Rachlis lives in Washington, D.C. He is married to the food and design writer Amy Albert.[15] He is divorced from the writer and critic Ariel Swartley, with whom he has a grown daughter, Austen.

Rachlis is known to be a cheese aficionado. He has volunteered at the Beverly Hills Cheese Shop and occasionally served as a judge in local cheese competitions.[16]


External links

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