The Oxford American has appointed a guest editor for its prestigious Southern music edition, Publisher Warwick Sabin said Wednesday.

The magazine is moving forward after weeks of controversy, he said.


“It’s definitely part of the restructuring going forward, but we’ve had guest editors in the past,” Sabin said.


In an email sent to subscribers Wednesday, the magazine said it has named Alex Rawls as guest editor for the 2012 Southern Music Issue set to come out Dec. 1. The issue will explore Louisiana music specifically.


“Through his many years of writing and editing in New Orleans, Alex has a broad and intimate knowledge of the music of Louisiana,” Sabin said in the news release. “He understands its diverse history, and he knows that it requires sensitivity, nuance and some playfulness to tell the stories in an authentic and engaging way.”


Sabin’s move comes in the wake of scandal at The Oxford American. Earlier this month, an investigation into wrongdoing revealed inappropriate behavior in the office located at the University of Central Arkansas, officials said previously. Two people — founder and editor Marc Smirnoff and managing editor and art editor Carol Ann Fitzgerald — were fired.

Allegations against Fitzgerald and Smirnoff included sexual harassment.


Sabin took over as interim editor and remains publisher. He has said previously he hopes either to fill the editor position with guest editors or find a replacement by the time he takes office as a state legislator early next year.


In the news release, Sabin said the magazine — known as a literary publication dedicated to good, Southern writing — is ready to move forward with its much-anticipated music issue.


“Our challenge is to thoughtfully and deeply explore the music of Louisiana, in order to unearth hidden treasures and introduce our readers and listeners to people and stories they otherwise would never know,” Sabin said in the release. “As we have proven over the years, that is what The Oxford American does best, and we are up to the challenge.”


Oxford American Literary Project board Chairman Rick Massey said previously he was confident Sabin will find a “rock star” editor to take the helm of the nationally recognized magazine. The project is the nonprofit organization the magazine is under.


Sabin said in the release that Rawls is a great choice for guest editor. Rawls has been covering music and culture in New Orleans for 15 years. He recently stepped down as editor of OffBeat, an alternative music publication, to begin his own website, My Spilt Milk, dedicated to music and culture. He has written for a slew of publications, including Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and the Los Angelos Times.


This year is the fourth time the magazine will focus on the musical heritage of a specific Southern state.


The Oxford American is moving forward after a few tumultuous weeks, but Sabin said he had not assigned guest editors past December. The board has not pursued any police investigations into allegations of wrongdoing by Fitzgerald and Smirnoff, he said.


“It’s over,” Sabin said.