Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ron Brownstein, Lee Hotz Make Career Moves

Ron Brownstein, the blandly liberal L.A. Times political writer, and Lee Hotz, the outstanding Times science writer, are today making significant career moves. Brownstein goes to the Op Ed Page, Current and the Times Web site. Hotz goes to the Wall Street Journal as a national science columnist, the latest major Times writer to leave the paper in the sickly days of Tribune control.
Hotz follows John Balzar and Alissa Rubin as eminent Times writers to leave in recent weeks, and as such the matter has to be of some concern. But in Hotz's case, despite his mention in a note to the staff that the Times has had a plethora of editors and publishers in his 14 years with the paper, some of whom were forced out or fired, his move is a reasonable one.

He moved East several years ago, following his wife, who became a teacher at an Eastern law school, and has been writing from New York for the most part, where he has been less prolific than he was in Los Angeles. His new post with the Wall Street Journal will probably be a better fit for him. He will be a distinguished addition to the Journal coverage.

Still, he was a primary writer in some of the finest science projects at the Times -- the oceans series, Antarctica expeditions, brain studies and earthquake work -- and as such will be greatly missed. As a colleague on many earthquake stories with him, we had good rapport, and, of course, I wish him all the best in his new job.

Brownstein's initial Op Ed page column this morning is pretty much what we have come to expect of him: sound, without being profound, careful, not too outspoken. Like all his work, it is at least competent, though not brilliant.

As a member of the Washington bureau staff, I believe Brownstein was one of the few back in 1999 not to sign a bureau petition protesting Mark Willes and the Staples scandal. The bureau chief, Doyle McManus, did sign, as did nearly everyone else. This was a mark of Brownstein's tenure. He habitually tried to be safe. He tried to stay on the good side of those in control.

As the years passed, Brownstein traveled less and actually broke few political stories. One of the advantages of his career move to the paper now is that it facilitates the transfer of the more vigorous Michael Finnegan to Washington as a political writer to cover the forthcoming presidential campaign, and Finnegan will do a better job.

We all get older of course, and Brownstein may do better at this stage of life sitting in the office.

But beyond that, the Times Op Ed page and Current section on Sundays have been so miserable, under the editorship of Nick Goldberg, that even the blandly competent writings of Brownstein will be an improvement. (Now, if only Goldberg will move to Gaza or Tehran, where he would be living with his spiritual soul mates, he will be happier and the Times will be better off).


Neil MacFarquhar in the New York Times this morning has an interesting front-page article on the partially-Arab financed CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and just where it fits on the ideological spectrum. Since Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is dealt with at length in the article, for first presenting an award and then revoking it to a CAIR Sacramento official, it might have been better had MacFarquhar mentioned that Boxer is Jewish.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was an ugly personal attack on a "blandly liberal" columnist at the Los Angeles Times, a former colleague (with friends like you, who needs enemies?) whose sin seems to have been disagreeing with your posturing on various subjects. I would use the word bitchy to describe your motiveless malignity but that would mean your putdowns possessed a modicum of wit.

3/14/2007 1:37 PM  

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