Telling the UK about Kinsley

Dan Glaister, the Guardian's man in L.A., fills in the home folks on the departure of Michael Kinsley from the L.A. Times and writes, "Kinsley may not be a household name in the UK, but in Los Angeles he has polarised polite society in a manner reminiscent of the discord a Parisian intellectual might provoke on the Left Bank." An excerpt:

Kinsley was derided from the right as the archetypal east coast liberal trying to patronise the uncouth Californians with hoity-toity Ivy League superiority. Some on the left detested him for the same reasons, charging that he ignored local issues and local writers.

Kinsley, his detractors will tell you, only had an apartment in LA, living in his main home in Seattle with his wife, who runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While admitting that the commute was problematic, Kinsley points out in his defence that Seattle, where he has lived for a decade, is on the west not the east coast. He moved there to start the online magazine Slate for Microsoft after a distinguished career in newspapers and magazines, including spells at Harper's and the New Republic.

But his experience at Slate, he admits, did not prepare him for the challenge of introducing change at a large institution such as the Los Angeles Times. "I don't want to sound self-congratulatory," he says, "but I didn't realise what an advantage it was to start Slate from scratch."


"I hope he is more sensitive," Kinsley says of his successor, whom he recruited to the paper. "There's no point in not having learned from my experiences. He's a much more diplomatic fellow than I am. He will find a path through the maze. I think he's going to continue some of the things I did."

But probably not all of them. Tribune's announcement of Martinez's appointment made use of phrases such as "critical issues . . . of importance to the Southern California region" and "the dynamic and vibrant culture of Los Angeles". The paper, its owners seemed to stress, would talk to its local audience.

Comments pro and con on Kinsley (and the Times) under the story.

Link via Romenesko

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
Why the LA Times' new theater column needs a new name
Helping in Houston, new lion cubs, Garcetti's back
Memo: New LA Times publisher drops web widget
Warren Olney leaving KCRW's radio lineup
LA Times purge 'capped a month of newsroom turmoil'
As the L.A. Times turns ...


LA Observed on Twitter