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Jim Newton to head Times' editorial page

He brings an extensive background in local and state news to the post.

April 14, 2007|James Rainey | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Times named Jim Newton, a veteran political and public policy journalist whose work has focused on California, editorial page editor Friday.

In announcing the appointment, Times Publisher David D. Hiller called Newton "one of the leading reporters and commentators on politics and government in Los Angeles and in the state."

Hiller said the appointment of the 44-year-old California native "would tend, I think, to make the pages grounded somewhat more in local and state issues, but without backing away from our interest in national and foreign matters."

Newton replaces Andres Martinez, who resigned last month after a controversy about a special edition of the newspaper's Sunday Current section. The special edition was scrapped because of the appearance of a conflict of interest: the selection of a guest editor who had a working relationship with Martinez's girlfriend.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 19, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Times editorial page editor: An article in Saturday's California section about the naming of Jim Newton as The Times' editorial page editor said the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which Newton covered, lasted nearly six months. Including jury selection, the trial lasted more than a year.

Newton was most recently The Times' city-county bureau chief, overseeing coverage of the government institutions that serve Los Angeles County.

He gained wide acclaim with his exhaustively detailed reporting and analysis of the nearly six-month 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson. Newton also played a major role in The Times' reporting of other seminal events in recent Southern California history: the federal trial of the Los Angeles police officers who beat Rodney King, the 1992 riots, the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the second term of Republican Mayor Richard Riordan in heavily Democratic Los Angeles.

Newton's biography of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, "Justice for All," was a bestseller in Southern California last year. He plans to postpone work on a book about the Eisenhower administration for at least a year to take the editing position.

In his new post, Newton will oversee the pages of the paper where The Times expresses its editorial views and publishes opinion pieces from regular and freelance contributors.

Newton's appointment represents the return of control of the editorial pages to a journalist steeped in news reporting. He has worked in newsrooms for more than 20 years, mostly at The Times but also at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, where he clerked for senior columnist James Reston.

For most of the three years before Newton's appointment, the newspaper's editorial pages had been run by writers trained predominantly in opinion journalism. Michael Kinsley came to The Times in 2004 after stints at Harper's, the New Republic and CNN's political talk show "Crossfire." Martinez spent most of his career as an editorial writer at newspapers, including the New York Times.

Kinsley dubbed himself a "mainstream liberal." Martinez's editorial pages were hard to categorize -- skeptical of government regulation, socially liberal and supportive of giving President Bush's "surge" in Iraq a chance to succeed.

Newton described himself as "moderate to liberal and not particularly partisan," adding, "I am more interested in practical politics than in partisan politics."

Newton will report to Hiller, who once worked as a lawyer in President Reagan's Justice Department. "The places we disagree are, I think, overwhelmed by the places where we do agree," Newton said. "And he seems open to argument on those issues."

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james.rainey@latimes.com

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