A native of California, Jim Newton has spent much of his life writing about the state, especially its politics, government and legal affairs. He was born in Palo Alto and attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in government and graduated with high honors in 1985. Following graduation, Newton clerked for James Reston, senior columnist for the New York Times. In that position, Newton researched and edited Mr. Reston's twice-weekly column, helped prepare a collection of those columns for publication and worked with Reston in the early stages of his memoir.
After spending another year with the Times' foreign desk in New York, Newton became a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was responsible for coverage of Mayor Andrew Young and Atlanta City Hall, and where he was introduced to leading members of the civil rights movement.
He left for the Los Angeles Times in 1989, and has spent much of the past two decades at the center of the state's recent history. He covered federal law enforcement and the Los Angeles Police Department from 1992 through 1997, a period that included the 1992 riots, the federal trial of the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King, and the murder trial of O.J. Simpson. He also was the paper's lead reporter responsible for the mayoral administration of Richard J. Riordan during Riordan's second term. In 2001, he was named California Government and Politics Editor, in charge of Los Angeles and Sacramento government coverage, and later became the Los Angeles Times' City-County Bureau Chief. He was named the Editorial Page Editor in April 2007.
He has written thousands of newspaper and magazine stories and is the recipient of numerous awards, including three Times Awards (for breaking news and for local reporting and also a Special Citation from the Editor). He was named a Times Mirror Journalist of the Year in 1995, and, that same year, received the Distinguished Journalist Award from the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He contributed to The Times' reporting on the 1992 riots and the 1994 earthquake, both of which earned Pulitzer Prizes for the staff.
In 2003, Newton took a leave of absence from The Times to complete work on his biography of Earl Warren, three-term governor of California and chief justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969. During that period, he was the John Jacobs Fellow at UC Berkeley's Institute for Governmental Studies, where he conducted much of the research.
The biography, "Justice For All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made," was published by Riverhead Books, a member of the Penguin Group Inc., in 2006. It received widespread critical acclaim. Among many others, the Washington Post wrote that was "excellent
and subtle." The Atlantic called it "thorough and enlightening." The Boston Globe proclaimed it a "vivid and distinguished account." And the Los Angeles Times concluded by describing the book as "an act of considerable courage." Newton is now at work on a presidential biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower, to be published by Doubleday.
Newton lives in Pasadena with his wife, Karlene Goller, and son, Jack Newton. Karlene is a vice president and deputy general counsel of the Los Angeles Times, where she advises the newsroom.