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Piranhas in the Fishbowl: Grazer-Gate Continues

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Andres Martinez, for such a pleasant guy, seemed to have made some LA Times enemies in his very short tenure there. All weekend, FBLA has been hearing various little snippets of rumors that Martinez was perceived as “too pro-business” or “not in touch with the rest of the paper”. LAObserved is ground zero for those who went on the record.

LATimes watcher, the late Cathy Seipp, wrote about Martinez in 2005 in the National Review Online. Then, Martinez was full of bright and shiny plans for a fresher Op-ed section with freelancers and outside experts writing editorials, readers contributing to online wikitorials, and other innovations planned under Michael Kinsley. Kinsley thinks it’s all ridiculous, but his literal-minded readers wonder why he’s posting about it.

First to crash and burn was that wikitorial.

But Martinez perked up the section, transferring some staff to news, hiring Matt Welch and Tim Cavanaugh from Reason, Rob Greene from the Weekly. Not everyone agrees that the changes were helpful.

One of those named by Martinez in his online tirade, Tim Rutten wraps himself in a few hundred words of sanctimony and loftily observes:

Like most of my colleagues at The Times, I’m fundamentally uninterested in other people’s personal lives

Which might explain why circulation has dropped so drastically in the last years. Remember when reporters were daring, risk-takers? Now they’re as prim as frontier schoolmarms, and as dull as civil servants.


Ken Reich thinks Rutten nailed it, and this whole thing is about an editor “getting a little nookie” and losing his integrity.

FBLA isn’t so sure. We yield to no one in our mockery of Grazer as GE, but publicists sling all sorts of shit. Some of it sticks to the wall, some of it slides down the side.

Allen Mayer and Kelly Mullens were doing their jobs. Andres Martinez and all his editors weren’t seduced by two flashy city slickers into abandoning simple homespun virtues learned at mother’s knee–the guest editor idea was a gimmick, just like the ill-fated wiki and the more successful live chats and blogs. David Carr suggests that there’s no one in charge at the LAT.

So where’s a swaggering billionaire with a gleam in his eye?

Earlier:

Exactly! Finally Someone Makes A Cogent Point About The Brian Grazer/LAT Scandal

Show Down on Spring Street: Andres Martinez Names News Room Meddlers at LA Times

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