Reaction to the Los Angeles Times' abrupt retiring of longtime columnist Al Martinez keeps coming in (and a new one added at the top...)
I first met Al when I was a kid reporter on the Times Metro staff in the '70s and he was the seasoned feature writer who sat behind me, frequently asking me how to spell something. For some reason our typewriters didn't come with "spell checks." Then in the early 1980s I became the Suburban editor of the newspaper and one of the first things I did was to cut a deal with Metro to let me have some of his time to write a column for the old Westside section. It was not an easy negotiation. There were some who didn't want him to write a column and they also didn't want to lose his time writing for Metro. It was one of the smartest decisions I ever made.
Before long he was writing a one column for the Westside and another for the daily Valley Edition. He loved to take potshots at the absurdities he observed on both sides of the mountains, often causing grief for his editor who had to take the complaints. In all our years together, I killed only one column where I felt he had crossed a line of bad taste and while we argued over it, he ultimately agreed I was right. Al did what good columnists (like Steve Lopez) are supposed to do: stir things up and get people to read them because they have something interesting to say, whether you agree with their view or not.
The media has too much pablum. It needs more filet mignon, like Al, not less.
Senior Vice President
Winner & Associates
Maybe this is the moment where I become part of the past. I don't know for sure, but since "I remember when" is how I start every conversation about the deplorable disintegration of the L.A. Times, I
wonder if I, too -- that is, a member of the reading public who values a unique personality of the LA Times as it was -- have become irrelevant. There was a time when the L.A. Times was Jim Murray, Jack Smith, Patt Morrison, Robert Scheer (even when I didn't agree with him) and a dozen more who rather than leave on their own terms or by God's hand, have been unwisely showed the door. Turning the Times into an indistinguishable but cheap-to-run paper is going to free up a lot of time for me in the morning. People like Al Martinez made the L.A. Times a reason to make time in a busy early morning for a cup of Joe and a comfy read of the paper. For whatever reason, those days are gone and we are so much the more worse off for it as an educated people.
[Patt Morrison still writes a weekly Op-Ed column for the Times — ed.]
Al Martinez has been writing as good a column as the Los Angeles Times has ever had for a while now. In my judgement, a column at least as good as any in the country. It is no surprise, however, that they've done what they did to him.
First of all, either none of the powers that be can read or his work is "too complicated" for them to understand as quality writing.
Secondly, all you have to do is see how they've treated him in recent years. They would have buried his column deeper in the paper but they couldn't find a darker corner.
Now I have no reason to continue my subscription...Al was my final "excuse." Time to completely dive into the Internet world and break a half-a-century habit.
OK, you dropped the TV Guide, combined Opinion with Book Review, let go of several great op-ed writers, all of which I could tolerate. The last straw is firing Al Martinez; now I'm dropping you (LA Times). Hello to the NY Times every day (instead of Sundays) as well as the Daily News for local stuff. Wow, I feel so much better.
Best of luck to Al Martinez - I'll be looking for your columns elsewhere.
Thank you for the coverage of the Times horrible treatment of Al Martinez. I've read the Times since 1974, but with the Heidi Sigmund Cuda-ing and My Favorite Weekend by strangers I've never heard of an the coverage of ludicrous fashion and Coachella, it's clear that i am no longer the demo the Times desires. It's a damn shame, Martinez is an articulate and thoughtful writer.
I'll wait for the new column on plastic surgery trends.
Dear L.A. Times:
You suck. Your paper sucks. Your website sucks. And the way you have treated Al Martinez sucks. Way to show some loyalty to your longtime employees - Otis Chandler is surely spinning in his grave, not that your corporate overlords would care. Whatever, I gave up on your rag a long time ago. Godspeed on your paper's continuing journey toward complete irrelevance.
Not Surprised in Miracle Mile
Bob Dylan's lyrics resonate with new found truths. To paraphrase: indeed the "Times, IT is a changing'. Al Martinez's buyout offer is an embarrassment. The man's career's been stellar and incisive in chronicling some essence of the human condition. His writing is witty, profound, humorous and sensitive.
He's a man of heart, of compassion---one who's been able to communicate to a varied demographic. His narratives reflect an uncanny wisdom. To "reward" or even "acknowledge" his longevity on the job by issuing walking papers is antithetical to the paper's goal of bringing the best and the brightest to its readers.
Al Martinez is a voice that resonates with the essence of reason. To unilaterally release him from the TIMES editorial staff, is another first step in downgrading the elements of honorable journalism. You should rather be honored that this soldier has stayed the course and used his voice to dispel prejudices and to inspire his readers to be all that they can be.
This decision is wrong. Making decisions solely on the basis of economics is demoralizing and unnecessarily punitive. Look around. Who's next up at bat? Think integrity; think grit; think hope; think Martinez.