Times alters its wardrobe

I'm not sure that ambushing your customers with an unfamiliar product and giving the perception of less content — four front page stories instead of the usual six or seven — will help reverse the fortunes of the Los Angeles Times. But they have made the leap, for better or worse. (Details here from Saturday.) I liked the Sunday page better when I could only see the upper half. Opened full it has too many competing fonts for my taste and a personality that screams cacophony rather than edited order. Also, color skyboxes just look bad when the whole page is out of register.

I believe that redesigns take time to grow on you. This one, though, has the feel of aiming to please the design pros rather than Los Angeles newspaper readers. As it happens, the first reactions at are positive. Mark Friesen also notes some design specifications there. More critiques from Kevin Drum and his readers at the Political Animal, at LA Voice, and later this morning Matt Welch will be posting reaction from his buds over at the Times Opinion section's blog.

Today the Times also moves its editorial and op-ed pages to the front A section. In honor of the occasion, the editors suspend normal content and reintroduce themselves. Editorial page editor Andrés Martinez explains what editorials are, op-ed editor Nick Goldberg does the same for his page, and the columnists each offer a little blurb. Included is a statement of mission for the editorial page, which surprised some when it recently endorsed Arnold Schwarzenegger's reelection without even nodding to the paper's reporting on his, uh, character issues.

The editorial page strives to reflect the dynamism of Southern California. The region's iconic status as global entertainment capital, its entrepreneurial spirit and its extraordinary cultural diversity are among its distinguishing strengths, and we believe that all Angelenos should have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. We demand accountability from the people's representatives in government, promote the rule of law and support policies that encourage commerce and growth and that raise living standards in the region.

Freedom is our core value. We feel a special obligation to defend civil liberties and human rights. Because newspapers and other news media, uniquely among businesses, enjoy and rely on a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects freedom of the press, we assume an obligation to defend the rights of all citizens.

More mission statement after the jump.

We reject overreaching moves by public authorities to control the culture or private mores. Citizens' right to privacy, to decide for themselves how best to lead their lives, is fundamental. It is in keeping with our Western roots to champion individual autonomy and the freedom of conscience.

The United States has developed into one nation whose citizens are engaged in a common enterprise and are entitled to live under the same basic framework of laws and enjoy their equal protection. And much as the bonds linking Americans have grown stronger over time, so too have the bonds among nations in the global economy. We believe that lowering barriers to trade and communication will lead to greater freedom and prosperity for all.

At home and abroad, we believe that free markets are the best engines of prosperity. We are deeply skeptical of government attempts to subvert markets to engineer economic outcomes, though we also believe that a private economy requires a robust public infrastructure and a social safety net to prevent some members of society from falling prey to unconscionable levels of poverty and privation that corrode our democracy.

An abiding commitment to preserve the nation's natural treasures also is in keeping with our Western roots. Californians understand that there is a need for society and government to protect wilderness, balancing the interests of growth and conservation, and to regulate human activity to preserve the quality of our air and water for generations to come. The market may be the best arbiter of economic activity, but in pursuit of environmental and public health goals, state regulation must often encroach on private behavior.

Engagement with the rest of the world is a requirement of good citizenship. The United States should be an unabashed promoter of freedom and democracy in the world, ready to work with others to help ease the burdens of less fortunate nations. We believe that the United States should have, and sometimes must use, the strongest military in the world. It also is important to shine a spotlight on global development challenges that don't necessarily dominate daily news headlines, and that is part of our mission.

Intellectual honesty is the cornerstone of the editorial page. We strive to be sincere, coherent, consistent and skeptical — and, when called for, to have a sense of humor and a hint of mischief. And a sense of humility, too, in recognizing when we are wrong and when our positions shift in light of new developments or information.

The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times champions its principles without regard to partisanship, beholden to no individual or political organization.

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