Monday, June 13, 2005

Changes Introduced On L.A. Times Editorial Pages Will Have To Be Tested For Awhile To See How They Work

While I've been back East visiting Washington, D.C., and attending a Dartmouth reunion, the L.A. Times has announced certain changes on its editorial pages, and the New York Times has run today, June 13, an article on the turbulence of the Michael Kinsley era on these same L.A. Times pages.

I've been very critical for the most part of Kinsley, who often seems to have odd and inconsistent views, conducted an apparently arbitrary purge of half his staff and now, like Mao's Cultural Revolution, is introducing what appears to be more chaos.

Kinsley and underling Andres Martinez have now announced plans to let outside freelancers write certain editorials, to explore issues for awhile. "thinking out loud," before adopting a philosophically consistent position, to run more editorial board essays under bylines and even to let members of the editorial board write once a year differing with the Times overall editorial positions. He would let readers participate on a website in helping to fashion some editorials.

As is to be expected, Times Editor John Carroll supports Kinsley. After all, he hired him, backed him in the messy fight with Susan Estrich and allows him to spend only one week in Los Angeles of every two and be a part time chief.

It would be interesting to know, in light of the Times' excessive recent article on the spending habits of Getty CEO Barry Munitz, whether Kinsley flies to Los Angeles from Seattle and back first class, and how much the Times may be paying for his hotels.

But all that said, not all of Kinsley's reforms are necessarily bad. Despite Jack Nelson's suggestion today that there is something unnatural in letting outsiders write editorials, we're simply going to have to see how it works out. It may shake up the paper's editorial pages beneficially. Certainly, the editorial pages have been unsatisfactory to many readers in the past.

So I for one would be willing to wait for awhile to reach a judgment on these reforms. I don't like the way Kinsley purged such able editorial writers as Alex Raksin, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and Molly Selvin. But some of his ideas for protest editorials may work out well.

He may be a klutz, folks, but he may also stumble in some respects into something good. After all, the New York Times greeted even some of Mark Willes' ideas with initial respect, although in that case they turned out to be cockeyed.


Blogger shelly sloan said...

As usual, Ken, you are charitable and deferential to both Kinsley and Carroll because of your past affiliations.

The Times will be a better paper when they are both gone.

For reasons that I have enumerated ad nauseum here, Carroll has not brought anything positive to Los Angeles. His bias in favor of terrorists and murderers is insufferable.

Kinsley is an absentee editor. Choosing between him and Susan Estrus is truly a Hobson's Choice.

I will continue to read the rag online to see major articles, but that is it.

The Daily News, on its worst day, is better than the present day Times.

6/15/2005 12:39 AM  

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