Los Angeles Times Publisher David Hiller announces that Jim Newton, his editor of the editorial pages, will leave in July to write a book. Newton lasted 14 months. Newton originally accepted the job reluctantly, riding the high of the reception for his book on Earl Warren and with a contract to write a book on Dwight Eisenhower. Newton seemed eager then to go off into the world of authoring, but was talked into taking the top LAT opinion job. So this may really be just about writing the book, but staffers are speculating that Newton didn't want to fire a bunch of people in the major cutbacks expected this month. There's also some speculation about the publisher's role in political endorsements. There's also been some heat from blogger Patterico over the paper's treatment of Pellicano case journalist Anita Busch. (There's also media blog speculation whether Hiller lasts out the summer.)
I have very mixed feelings in sharing the news that Jim Newton, editorial pages editor, has decided to leave The Times to resume his work on a biography of President Eisenhower. You may recall that Jim postponed his plans for the book when he agreed to take on leadership for the editorial pages last year. We are all very grateful to Jim not only for his superb captaining of our opinion pages, but for a truly extraordinary career with The Times over the past nineteen years. Jim is clearly one of the most talented, experienced, and highly regarded journalists, editors, and authors of an entire generation. I am personally grateful to Jim for agreeing to extend his service to The Times when I asked him last year. We will miss Jim as a colleague but keep him as a friend, and wish him and Ike all the success in the world.
Jim will be staying on through July to provide a good transition to a successor we hope to name in the next couple weeks.
Newton's resignation email after the jump:
My dear colleagues,
When I accepted the job of Editorial Pages Editor nearly 14 months ago, I agreed to postpone work on my book for at least a year. It's now time for me to return to that project.
I leave you with sadness and some reservations, but mostly with an overwhelming sense of pride at the work my colleagues on these pages
have produced over the past year. Week in, week out, they have generated journalism of conscience and clarity, eloquence and force. Their work, in both editorials and Op-Eds, print and web, is full of wisdom and erudition. It is acutely respectful of readers.
It is no accident that candidates at all levels court our endorsement; that interest groups and intellectuals ask us to give space to their
arguments; that the mayor, school superintendent and police chief, along with community activists of all types, seek our support for their
programs; that the governor starts each morning with the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times. In a city and state eager for cogent, reasoned argument and non-partisan guidance, the writers and editors of these pages have consistently supplied them. I am honored to have worked with this talented group.
The external difficulties these days are known to all of you, and I won't belabor them here. Let me say only that it's clear to me, as it is
to everyone, that the paper still has challenges ahead. The publisher and I have discussed those difficulties, and he is entitled to an
editorial page editor who shares his vision on how best to confront them.
This move marks not just the end of my time in this job, but also my departure from The Times, where I have worked for just a shade under two decades. I leave it - and you - with my deepest respect. You are colleagues, yes, but also friends and family. I cherish my bonds with each of you, and I will appreciate you no less as a reader than I have as a colleague.
For me, it's off to Eisenhower. For all of you, it's on with the enduring work of telling the story of our city, state, country and world
to a readership that needs it. That's a vital mission. You have carried it with grace, courage and energy for as long as I can remember. Otis
Chandler once said that there are two things that really hold Southern California together - the freeways and the Los Angeles Times. It was
true then, and it's true now. And it's more important than ever.
You have my best wishes and, for what it's worth, my complete confidence.