In the wake of the “guest editor” scandal that led to Los Angeles Times Current (op/ed page) editor Andrés Martinez to resign, American Journalism Review editor Rem Rieder has offered his opinion on why guest editors don't mix with sound journalism.
Martinez had planned a Sunday Current section guest-edited by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. However, it was revealed that Martinez dates the vice president of the PR firm that represents Grazer, a relationship that was too close for the Times’ comfort and resulted in the publisher’s canceling the special section completely.
Rieder says that, though journalism needs new voices right now, allowing amateurs (even buzz-creating celebrities) undermines the difficulty and importance of an editor’s job. Though journalism isn’t perfect, he says, professional journalists generally at least strive toward certain ethical standards.
Further, Rieder points out the potential conflict of interest of a newspapers’ working directly with those they cover. Martinez had planned to have Donald Rumsfeld and Magic Johnson as future guest editors.
“I don't know about you,” Rieder says, “but I'm not eager to fly on the first airline to offer up a ‘guest pilot’ program.