Thursday, February 08, 2007

Martinez Interview Shows LAT Internet Improving

Improvements in the long-deficient Los Angeles Times Web site are illustrated today with the 63-minute live chat featuring Andres Martinez, editor of the L.A. Times editorial pages.

Martinez does a good job of parrying questions about alleged Times ideological slants on immigration and Iraq war issues, and the Times commendably has not edited out suggestios that the newspaper has been deteriorating, although Martinez makes the point there's still a lot of good things in it.

This is a good format for Martinez, who says he has been in Los Angeles for two years now and likes it. He also answered questions about the Times carrying too many Easterners in its commentary pages, the Current section, and so forth. Altogether, it seemed to me this was a productive exchange, and apparently we can look forward to other chats with seniors at the newspaper.

The Martinez chat is moderated by Tim Cavanaugh, who does a good job. It was heartening to see last week that the Web site hired someone from the International Herald Tribune in Paris to improve its presentation.

As I say, this is a step forward, as is the greater focus on traffic issues in the newspaper as a whole in a better display of this vital consumer issue. Just this morning, the lead article on Page One is about American airline service on what is called in the headline "a bumpy ride." This is a subject that has been written about a great deal by air travel columnist Joe Sharkey in the New York Times.

The Times also reports this morning that in Washington, the House of Representatives has at last passed a bill repealing a ban on federal money for extension of the subway toward Santa Monica on the West Side. That bill now goes to the Senate and is expected to be signed into law soon by President Bush. Although the article makes the point that the 13-mile extension will cost $4.8 billion and take a long time to accomplish, at least steps forward are being taken.

The Times also apparently is moving to clear up an ethical transgression after the revelation that columnist Steve Lopez has not been the actual author on a number of his traffic blogs. It is, of course, important to say clearly just who is the author of all blogs on the Web site.

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