The Los Angeles Times is a citizen of the city of Los Angeles, the state of California, the American nation and the world. On the editorial page, the newspaper sets aside its objective news-gathering role to join its readers in a dialogue about important issues of the day — to exhort, explain, deplore, mourn, applaud or champion, as the case may be.
The editorial page strives to reflect the dynamism of Southern California. The region’s iconic status as global entertainment capital, its entrepreneurial spirit and its extraordinary cultural diversity are among its distinguishing strengths, and we believe that all Angelenos should have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. We demand accountability from the people’s representatives in government, promote the rule of law and support policies that encourage commerce and growth and that raise living standards in the region.
Freedom is our core value. We feel a special obligation to defend civil liberties and human rights. Because newspapers and other news media, uniquely among businesses, enjoy and rely on a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects freedom of the press, we assume an obligation to defend the rights of all citizens.
We reject overreaching moves by public authorities to control the culture or private mores. Citizens’ right to privacy, to decide for themselves how best to lead their lives, is fundamental. It is in keeping with our Western roots to champion individual autonomy and the freedom of conscience.
The United States has developed into one nation whose citizens are engaged in a common enterprise and are entitled to live under the same basic framework of laws and enjoy their equal protection. And much as the bonds linking Americans have grown stronger over time,so too have the bonds among nations in the global economy. We believe that lowering barriers to trade and communication will lead to greater freedom and prosperity for all.
At home and abroad, we believe that free markets are the best engines of prosperity. We are deeply skeptical of government attempts to subvert markets to engineer economic outcomes, though we also believe that a private economy requires a robust public infrastructure and a social safety net to prevent some members of society from falling prey to unconscionable levels of poverty and privation that corrode our democracy.
An abiding commitment to preserve the nation’s natural treasures is also is in keeping with our Western roots. Californians understand that there is a need for society and government to protect wilderness, balancing the interests of growth and conservation, and to regulate human activity to preserve the quality of our air and water for generations to come. The market may be the best arbiter of economic activity, but in pursuit of environmental and public health goals, state regulation must often encroach on private behavior.
Engagement with the rest of the world is a requirement of good citizenship. The United States should be an unabashed promoter of freedom and democracy in the world, ready to work with others to help ease the burdens of less fortunate nations. We believe that the United States should have, and sometimes must use, the strongest military in the world. It is also important to shine a spotlight on global development challenges that don’t necessarily dominate daily news headlines, and that is part of our mission.
Intellectual honesty is the cornerstone of the editorial page. We strive to be sincere, coherent, consistent and skeptical — and,when called for, to have a sense of humor and a hint of mischief. And a sense of humility, too, in recognizing when we are wrong and when our positions shift in light of new developments or information.
The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times champions its principles without regard to partisanship, beholden to no individual or political organization.
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How We Work
What exactly is an editorial? The simple answer is: an unsigned article expressing the newspaper’s opinion on a matter of public interest. It’s the one place in the newspaper where The Times tells you what it thinks as an institution.
Speaking on the newspaper’s behalf is the editorial board, consisting of 9 members, with a variety of viewpoints and expertise. We meet three times a week for an hour or so, bat around ideas and arguments, examine them for flaws, push them in new directions, (sometimes) discard them entirely and (ideally) mold them into coherence. We often have visitors from the worlds of politics, governance, academia and business.
Board members interview sources much like our newsroom colleagues,though we aren’t as likely to use quotes. We go wherever our interests lead us — skid row, Sacramento, Shanghai — but we’re not entirely free to write whatever we want. The editorial board imposes a few institutional constraints, by design.
One is what is known in the law as stare decisis. Our past positions on any given topic help guide our present view. It would be intellectually inconsistent, not to say politically opportunistic, to favor term limits when one party is in office but oppose them when another governs. (For the record, we don’t like term limits for anyone.)
The writing of editorials is a team effort; they aren’t columns reflecting any one person’s viewpoint. A member of the board (editors included) can’t write an editorial endorsing a position in the absence of consensus among the group. That is not to say we are a full democracy. Editors have a bigger say, especially in wielding a veto.
We are also spreading our voice outside the geographical constraints of the editorial page. We will increasingly be offering more online-only content, whether rebuttals to an editorial or virtual chats with a columnist.
We don’t expect you to always agree with our opinion, but we do hope to earn your respect.
Members of The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board
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