That was fast. Michael Kinsley, who just took over on June 14, 2004, will soon relinquish his spot as editor in charge of the L.A. Times editorial and opinion pages. The LA Weekly's Nikki Finke and the New York Times chased the rumors all day Monday, and the NYT was first to publish on its website Monday night. The story by Katharine Q. Seelye cites Kinsley saying that his future role with the paper [if any] is being worked out. He attributes the change in part to the strains of running a large department while living part-time in Seattle: "I think I'm doing a pretty good job. But that's the one thing that is not working out, so we're going to try to fix it." Finke plans to report tomorrow on the Weekly website, however, that the change flows from the decision last week to make Kinsley report to Publisher Jeffrey Johnson, instead of to the editor of the paper. Finke speculated in a piece last week that Kinsley would not last without the protection of outgoing Editor John Carroll, writing "Kinsley’s perch looks precarious." She is expected to report that Kinsley is already moving out of his Bunker Hill apartment and won't be returning from vacation as head of the department. One possible landing spot for Kinsley is as a columnist on the op-ed page, where he already appears. The New York Times story suggests he may also have some role in developing the paper's web presence. Seelye says Kinsley told his staff last week, "Something's going to change in my job description, but I'm not leaving The Times and nothing will happen for months." Johnson was on vacation and unavailable to comment.
By the way, it's not all that uncommon for a newspaper editorial page to report to the publisher. Both the New York Times and the Boston Globe have the opinion pages under the publisher, says Stephen Burgard, a former LAT editorial writer who is now director of the journalism school at Northeastern University. He and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly argued the point last Thursday on The O'Reilly Factor.
* Tuesday update: Times VP Martha Goldstein tells Editor & Publisher, "His role is evolving. We don't have anything further to add to that description." 2:15 p.m.