Martinez Sets Sail on Unpredictable Course

Times Staff Writer

Andres Martinez, the editor named Tuesday to oversee the Los Angeles Times editorial pages and the Sunday Current section, takes pride in confounding categories, partisan and otherwise.

Martinez, 39, said his appointment would mean the newspaper would continue to pursue a determinedly unpredictable stance -- one demonstrated by The Times’ support of gay marriage, free trade in Central America and an end to Democratic filibusters against President Bush’s judicial appointments.

“We have plenty of critics on both sides of the aisle, and I think that has been one of the hallmarks of the [editorial] page in the last year,” Martinez said. “If you are going to have any credibility, you need to remain intellectually honest and consistent over time and not be overly tactical and partisan.”


A native of Mexico, Martinez earned a bachelor’s degree at Yale, a master’s in Russian history at Stanford and a law degree at Columbia.

Before joining The Times a year ago, he had been assistant editorial page editor at the New York Times and in 2004 became a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for what the judges called an “exhaustively researched series of editorials that exposed the harmful global effects of American agricultural trade policy.”

Martinez will retain his title as editorial page editor of The Times, a post he held for the last year under Michael Kinsley.

Some critics have accused the paper during that time of failing to address local and state issues as its focus shifted to national and foreign affairs.

Martinez said he planned to “ratchet up” the number of opinion pieces on local and state affairs and to “do a better job of bringing in local writers on the daily Op-Ed page.”

Under a new organizational structure announced in July, Martinez reports to the publisher of the paper, Jeffrey M. Johnson, rather than to the editor.

Martinez said he and Johnson had already agreed that the editorial board, which guides the staff-written opinion pieces that state the newspaper’s positions, should make efforts to become better known in the community.

Editorial board members will appear at more events and forums, Martinez said. He plans to partner with the Downtown Public Library in a series of public forums called Zocalo.

“People no longer take it on faith they should read the institution’s perspective,” Martinez said. “They want to know who is involved in the discussion. We are going to do a lot more to let them know about that.”

Martinez and his wife, public interest lawyer Katherine Hall-Martinez, live in Marina del Rey. They have one child.