Friday, March 23, 2007

Good Riddance To Goofball Andres Martinez

With some ill-tempered remarks about the newsroom and the reporters who were intent that he should not sacrifice the interests of the Los Angeles Times to pursue a romance with a public relations executive, Andres Martinez has resigned. He decided that publisher David Hiller's cancellation of a possibly tainted Current section this Sunday showed lack of confidence in his direction of the editorial pages.

Good riddance to a man, who, like his predecessor, Michael Kinsley, did some mighty strange things as editor of the editorial pages, including terminating the services in his area of three Pulitzer Prize winners.

We can expect that now, like Kinsley before him, Martinez will industriously try to smear the newspaper which gave him employment in the first place. Kinsley has pursued a vendetta against the Times, and to some extent all newspapers, and now Martinez will too.

But there is a broader issue here, and that is that the editor of the paper, in this case James O'Shea, should have control of editorials in addition to the newsroom. Reporters should not be lobbying for specific editorials, but the editor must bridge the gap between the newsroom and editorial pages, just as was the case for many years at the Times.. Leaving the publisher alone in charge of the editorials has led to a situation where the editorials are not as well based, nor as credible to the public.

This was one place where I differed with former Times editor Dean Baquet, who didn't want to mess with such an unruly group of poor thinkers as Kinsley, Martinez, and Op Ed Page editor Nick Goldberg. The trouble was that in giving up the editor's control that had been traditional. in conjunction with that of the publisher, Baquet let an unfortunate situation fester. In fact, it got worse and worse.

As I said yesterday, I wasn't necessarily all against the idea of inviting guest editors in to put out sections of the Current section on Sundays, or on Saturdays, if that is where it is to be moved to. It might have been an interesting experiment.

But it could also have run off the tracks, and, judging from what Brian Grazer, the Hollywood producer retained to put out the first outside-edited Current, has had to say about what he planned to run there this Sunday, the first such section would not have been a success. He had hired an assorted group of liberal dilettantes, who would not have done the Times' reputation any good.

There have been ongoing discussions at the Times of folding Current and the Book Review into one section. I hope this is now put into abeyance, especially since the next months are liable to be turbulent ones on the Times editorial pages, and there well might be other personnel changes besides the departure of Martinez.

Another theme of Martinez' s assorted comments in e-mails and statements has been to try and join himself to those who have criticized Tribune ownership, and ensuing cut backs, at the Times.

But he's really not welcome in this group, because he had never shown any signs of real independence of or skepticism toward Tribune before.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great points, Ken. Everything Andres Martinez has said during and after this episode has been self-serving, particularly his after-the-fact criticism of Hiller and Tribune. He wants to be remembered not as the guy whose romantic relationship interfered with his judgment, but as another Tribune martyr a la Dean Baquet and Jeff Johnson. Martinez sounds more desperate than convincing, though.

3/24/2007 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Matt Weinstock said...

Heh Heh.


Heh Heh.

3/24/2007 9:40 PM  

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