LA Times scandal just the tip of the iceburg

By Mick Gregory

Society of Hispanic Editors poster boy Andres Martinez dethroned from his prestigious appointment.

Mr. Bill Boyarsky, who retired from the Los Angeles Times in 2001, would like to see media reporter James Rainey and a team of top LAT reporters examine past Current sections and editorials to see whether they’ve been influenced by publicist Allen Mayer and his associate, Kelly Mullens, who has been dating editorial page editor Andres Martinez.

Executive editor Andres Martinez is forced to “buy the farm;” steps down as editor of the LA Times Sunday editorial section.

Look at this “holier than thou” memo from the shamed executive who is acutally putting his resume out to the public. It’s a “situation wanted” ad.

…. This event makes my continued tenure as Los Angeles Times editorial page editor untenable. The person in this job needs to have an unimpeachable integrity, and Hiller’s decision amounts to a vote of no confidence in my continued leadership.

I regret that my failure to anticipate and adequately address the perception of a conflict in this matter has placed Hiller — whom I like and respect a great deal, incidentally — and my colleagues on the editorial board in such an awkward position, not to mention Brian Grazer and Kelly Mullens, who did nothing wrong here but have been caught up in all this. Nick Goldberg and Michael Newman are two of the smartest, most talented people I have worked with, and any lapses in judgment here were mine, not theirs.

I accept responsibility for creating this appearance problem, though I also maintain that the newspaper is overreacting today. We are depriving readers of an interesting, serious section that is beyond reproach, and unfairly insulting the individuals we approached to participate in this guest editor program by telling them it is a corrupt concept. How we come about this decision when 24 hours ago the managing editor of this newspaper was assuring me he didn’t see a story after I walked him through the facts, and while Hiller maintains we did nothing wrong, is a bit perplexing. In trying to keep up with the blogosphere, and boasting about their ability to go after their own, navel-gazing newsrooms run the risk of becoming parodies of themselves.

Among the biggest possible conflicts of interest a newspaper can enter into is to have the same people involved in news coverage running opinion pages. I am proud of the fact that Jeff Johnson, Dean Baquet and I fully separated the opinion pages from the newsroom at the Times. I accept my share of the responsibility for placing the Times in this predicament, but I will not be lectured on ethics by some ostensibly objective news reporters and editors who lobby for editorials to be written on certain subjects, or who have suggested that our editorial page coordinate more closely with the newsroom’s agenda, and I strongly urge the present and future leadership of the paper to resist the cries to revisit the separation between news and opinion that we have achieved.

We’re a long ways removed from the fall of 2004 when Michael Kinsley and John Carroll lured me out to the West Coast, with promises of investing more resources on the LAT opinion pages and web site. Some of the retrenchment is understandable given the business fundamentals, but I have been alarmed recently by the company’s failure to acknowledge that our opinion journalism, central to the paper’s role as a virtual town square for community debate and dialogue, should not be crudely scaled back as part of across-the-board cuts. Decisions being made now to cut the one part of the paper that is predominantly about ideas and community voices go too far in my view, and are shortsighted.

Still, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last two years. —Andrés

——

This brings to mind a former icon of “Bagdad by the Bay” who’s girl friend was a PR executive who would hit up celebrity restaurants around town: i.e., Stars, Postrio, Cafe Lulu, Greens, Boulevard, One, and Farallon. If they retained her services, “like magic,” some nice plugs would appear in the popular column.

I heard this from an executive chef.

Citizen journalism at your service.

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38 thoughts on “LA Times scandal just the tip of the iceburg

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