NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Kinsley is in talks to reduce his day-to-day role at the paper in a move that may lead to an end to his short and controversial tenure at the helm of the editorial pages.
Kinsley insisted he’s not stepping down from his job, just negotiating a different role that would allow him to reduce the time he spends commuting from Seattle to Los Angeles.
Kinsley said a number of editorial page employees could be involved in the shuffle, which may conclude with editorial page editor Andres Martinez taking a broader management role.
“We are all getting shuffled around,” Kinsley said, adding that though Martinez reports to him, Martinez already manages the section day-to-day. “Andres and I are perfectly in synch politically.”
Kinsley said the talks are in early stages, and though his new role isn’t yet defined, he said he hopes “it will involve less commuting.”
He said he expects to remain a columnist at the paper and may take on Web initiatives.
The talks within the L.A Times editorial page come a week after editor John Carroll announced he was leaving the paper after a contentious round of budget negotiations with parent Tribune Co.
In the wake of Carroll’s departure, reporting lines were reorganized so the editorial page will report to the publisher, Jeffrey M. Johnson, and not to the new editor, Dean Baquet.
Kinsley said the change in reporting structure has nothing to do with his decision. “I like Jeff (Johnson) and I like Dean Baquet,” he said.
He said there are advantages in reporting to the publisher and not the editor of the paper, which is the way the editorial pages function at the New York Times and Washington Post.
“Then there’s no suggestion that the news page is influenced by the editorial page,” he said.
Kinsley, who left Slate to join the L.A. Times in April 2004, was hired to shake up the paper’s editorial page and bring some weight to the institution so it would be more of a counterbalance to the East Coast opinion pages believed to dominate the national conversation.
Kinsley proposed changes in an attempt to make the editorial pages more innovative and accountable to readers, such as reducing unsigned editorials, considered the institutional voice of the paper, and ending the tradition of endorsing political candidates.
He also experimented with “wikitorials,” where readers were invited to contribute or respond online, but that effort was aborted soon after it began when contributors posted porn.