Tuesday, June 14, 2005

LA Times Wikitorials?

In a "To our Readers" note on Sunday, the L.A. Times' editorial page editor, Andres Martinez, outlined a bunch of changes coming to that venue.

Buried among the listings was this short bullet:

Watch next week for the introduction of "wikitorials" — an online feature that will empower you to rewrite Los Angeles Times editorials.

Now, this could get interesting. No other details, and I don't see anything yet on more recent pages to further explain or empower.

"It may be a complete mess, but it's going to be interesting to try," Michael Kinsley, the editorial page editor, told the New York Times. (Apparently Kinsley's moves, which include some major personnel shakeups, got out of the bag when he left some PowerPoint slides on a copier.)

I suspect there's a little hype here when talking about the ability to "rewrite." I'll bet it will be more like letting people take a version and rework it for everyone to see -- but the original stays intact. But even with that, is there likely to be any more clarity, or just some kind of "feel good" result? Editorials by definition have a point of view. If this becomes a group grope sort of thing, then all you get is a mishmash of conflicting opinions, statements, etc., with little additional insight. Maybe the idea should be to let each person rewrite the editorial individually; then you'd have a gallery of pieces to browse, each of them likely more focused and enlightening than a group effort.

Martinez also said the staff would "step out from behind the curtain" more often with such notes "to update you on what we are doing, or comment on some of our past editorials." He says the editorial staff plans to be out in the community more listening. And editorial board members will be allowed to dissent -- once per year -- from editorials they disagree with.

More from Editor and Publisher.


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