Tony Ortega, editor of the New Times Broward-Palm Beach, has been named editor-in-chief of the Village Voice.
Ortega, 43, who started his career with New Times (now Village Voice) Media in 1995 at the Phoenix New Times, will take the reins on Cooper Square later this week, according to Village Voice Media executive editor Michael Lacey.
“It’s an incredible newspaper, an incredible opportunity, and something that I’ve dreamed about for a long time,” Ortega said of the Voice editorship. “If you are in the alternative press, and you’re ambitious, that’s always the Mount Everest of the alternative world. I didn’t really think it was attainable, but Mike surprised me and said yes.”
After a four-year stint as a staff writer in Phoenix, Ortega wrote for the New Times Los Angeles for three years before returning to become associate editor at the Phoenix New Times. He served as managing editor of The Pitch in Kansas City from 2003 to 2005, when he became editor of the 70,000-circulation New Times Broward-Palm Beach.
“Lincoln promoted General Grant late in the game. Stalin promoted Marshall Zukoff late in the game. Tony Ortega is the right man at the right time. He’s an accomplished writer and editor,” Lacey said.
Ortega lived briefly in New York City as a freshman at Columbia University in the early 1980s. A self-described “half-Mexican California kid,” he grew up attending public school in Los Angeles and Orange County before receiving a John Jay Scholarship to the Ivy League institution in 1981. He left after three semesters, in debt and disillusioned, but said he retained his love for the city.
“I loved living in New York. I had a Mohawk at the time, and I remember riding the subway home at three in the morning from the Pep Lounge,” he said, referring to the fabled Peppermint Lounge nightclub.
After more graduate work and teaching at University of California Santa Cruz, he moved to Phoenix in 1995 and applied to work at the New Times. The next year, he won the highest journalism award in the state, the Arizona Press Club’s Virg Hill Award, for his exposes of corruption in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and other stories.
When Lacey told him he had the job on Sunday afternoon, he said he didn’t have to think about it. “Why would I need to think about becoming editor of the Village Voice?”