‘L.A. Times’ Editor Responds to Statements By Martinez

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By: E&P Staff

Andres Martinez, editorial page editor at the Los Angeles Times has gone, but he has not gone quietly. The popular blog LAobserved.com has carried his parting shots at management, which had killed a special opinion section produced by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer after it came out that Martinez was dating a Grazer publicist.

Anyway. Times’ editor, James O’Shea, has now responded with a memo to staffers, published, naturally, by Kevin Roderick at LAobserved, who has dubbed the whole affair Grazergate. Here is an excerpt.
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I also want to correct some misinformation being published on blogs by Andres Martinez. I don’t want to engage in mud-slinging with Andres. He is a good journalist and I feel bad for him, worse today, in fact, than yesterday. But I’m also not going to sit here like some silent lamb while he distorts my record and attacks this newspaper and my newsroom.

I am not in charge of the editorial board of this newspaper. The editor of the editorial page reports directly and independently to Publisher David Hiller. That is as it should be. I strongly believe in the principle that separate editors should be in charge of news and opinion. To suggest that I told David Hiller I didn’t want the editorial board reporting to me on a “whim” is untrue. He is referring to part of a longer conversation with Nikki Finke, and to take my remarks out of context is unprofessional and sloppy.

Moreover, no one in this newsroom is on a campaign to “storm the editorial page and bring it back into lockstep with the newsroom.” It is true that we have journalists in the newsroom who don’t agree with Andres’ views on the ethical problems that led to his resignation. I count myself among them. But these are legitimate, genuine differences of opinion held by people with a passion for the news and this newspaper. To suggest otherwise is pitiful.

He also attacked Sue Horton and Julie Marquis for having the audacity to alert the editorial pages to the important work of the staff in case it might make a good editorial. Sue and Julie did nothing wrong.

Lastly, Andres suggests I came to Los Angeles as some sort of agent of Tribune Company to quell an “uprising by the imperial subjects.” To refer to the journalists at this newspaper in such a manner is an insult to hard-working people who happen to disagree with Andres. I came here because it was an honor to be selected to lead a great newspaper with an excellent staff in one of the most interesting cities in the world. I will stand on my record and credentials as a newsman and journalist. The suggestion that I make decisions simply to curry favor with the staff is also simply untrue. We face hard times. If I have to make decisions that are unpopular with the staff but in the best long-term interest of this newspaper, I will not hesitate to make them. That is what leadership is about. I’ve said that openly from the day that I walked into this newsroom.

I believe in full disclosure.

Jim



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