Tony Ortega, editor-in-chief of the Village Voice, will step down next week from the alt-weekly to pursue a book project on his favorite bugaboo, the Church of Scientology.
He has run editorial at the alt-weekly for five years and worked at a number of papers owned by the Voice's parent company. He was previously editor of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
In a blog post to readers, Ortega said the time was ripe to investigate one of the world's most secretive religions, noting the release this weekend of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," about the early days of a Scientology-like religion, and Maureen Orth's recent Vanity Fair cover story on Scientology-proselytizer Tom Cruise's search for a wife.
"We've all watched as interest in Scientology has skyrocketed this summer…I've decided to take advantage of this moment to change directions," Ortega wrote.
Ortega has blogged obsessively about the religion while at the Voice, filing over 450 stories about the faith, it practices and its finances.
He oversaw the Voice at a tumultuous time in its history, but managed to bring stability to the editor-in-chief role. Before he took control of the newsroom, the Voice had run through four editor-in-chiefs in a little over a year.
Still the paper has suffered a series of staff cuts recently. Last month, four editorial staffers were laid off or were pushed into part-time positions. On Friday, music editor Maura Johnston said on Twitter that it was her last day at the paper.