Roger L. Simon

Hail, Freedonia!... at the LAT...

Events at my hometown newspaper – the Los Angeles Times – are beginning to resemble a remake of the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup with everyone firing (or being fired) at will. First Steve Wasserman is out at the Book Review, then John Caroll is “retired” as editor and now Michael Kinsley, the vaunted savior of the paper’s fusty opinion pages, is out after what feels like ten minutes, but must have been more like ten months. At first I thought Kinsley got the heave ho for running this nonsense, but then I read the following at Editor & Publisher:

In June, Kinsley sparked gossip and some anger among staffers when he left a copy of a power point presentation on a photocopy machine detailing editorial page shake-ups that had yet to be announced. Those included some staff changes and reassignments, plans for publication of opposing editorials, and more reader involvement.

Of course that “reader involvement” led to more troubles:

Most recently, the paper’s short-lived “wikitorial” experiment blew up in editors’ faces. The meltdown occurred after the wikitorial page on the Times Web site was infiltrated by online vandals who placed profane headlines and some pornography on the site, which led to its indefinite cancellation after just two days.

Well, at least somebody should be happy about Kinsley’s departure. Meanwhile, after the Times surfaces from all this restructuring, I have some advice for it – Become the Herald Examiner!