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Michael Hiltzik to return to writing Business column

Business Editor Sallie Hofmeister's memo to Times staff:

Michael Hiltzik, one of the paper's most prolific writers and distinctive voices, will return to being a columnist for the Business section. 

A 27-year Times veteran, Michael has distinguished himself since returning to Business a year ago (after a brief stint in Sports) with smart, analytical stories, many of which have been followed by our competitors.

Michael has an uncanny knack for synthesizing complicated information and making it easy for readers to understand. This year, he has produced 25 A1 stories on a broad range of subjects, from hedge funds' track records in Hollywood to the nation's broken health care insurance system. Most recently, he helped anchor our coverage of the Bush Administration's financial bailout plan. 

A former foreign correspondent, who has served the paper in both Moscow and Nairobi, Michael won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 with colleague Chuck Philips for reporting on corruption in the entertainment industry. Five years later, he won a Gerald Loeb Award for his Golden State column, which the judges called "smart, angry, sometimes laugh out loud funny, tackling complex subjects in a lively accessible style with a strong voice and a real sense of being on the reader's side."

Michael is the author of three works of nonfiction. His fourth book, "Colossus," a history of the Hoover Dam, is due out shortly.

The new column will showcase Michael's range, depth and critical thinking on business subjects of national and local import. It will appear on Mondays and Thursdays, beginning January 5th. 

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Comments (12)

I predict many comments here, praising this decision to reinstate Hiltzik, by commenters with different names but curiously with the same IP address.

By now most of you know that Mike Hiltzik has acknowledged violating the paper's ethics guidelines. He did so by using pseudonyms to post a single comment on his blog on and multiple comments elsewhere on the Web that dealt with his column and other issues involving the newspaper.

Because of this violation, we are discontinuing Mike's column in the newspaper, Golden State, and his blog of the same name. In addition, we are suspending Mike without pay for a period of time. At the end of the suspension, he will be reassigned.

Killing a column is a serious step. We don't take it lightly. Mike did not commit any ethical violations in his newspaper column, and an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web.

But employing pseudonyms constitutes deception and violates a central tenet of our ethics guidelines: We do not misrepresent ourselves and we do not conceal our affiliation with The Times. This rule applies equally to the newspaper and the Web world. We expect Times employees to behave with integrity and follow our guidelines in all journalistic forums.

A columnist has a special place within The Times. Editors, colleagues and, most of all, readers must trust the integrity and judgment of a columnist because of the freedom that comes with the job. Mike often used his column to pillory business leaders for duplicity or violating the trust of employees, shareholders or the public and we are no longer comfortable granting him that special place within our newspaper.

Los Angeles Times Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Doug Frantz - April 28 2006

Guess the Times has gotten over that whole "ethics" kick they were on.

Thanks very much for returning Michael Hiltzik to a regular column. His ability to make complicated subjects understandable is very appreciated.

Are you going to mention the levels of dishonesty that this writer previously reached, and why he had this column taken from him previously? Or, is that another thing down the memory hole ?

I have to say that I do not understand this decision. Mr Hiltzik may have been a fine reporter, but once a reputation for dishonesty creeps in, that's it, your're done in this business.

Remember, it was dishonesty that cost Mr Hiltzik his column in the first place; perhaps you think that has been forgotten, but the same sources which pointed it out in the first place haven't forgotten, and have taken note of Mr Hiltzik's return.

What is interesting to me is that the Times' parent company is in Chapter 11, and a lot of good reporters who don't have a problem with a reputation for dishonesty are out on the streets, looking wistfully at the Times building where they used to work.

And can you tell us exactly why Mr. Hiltzik had his original column taken away back in 2006? Let's see if you have the guts to tell your readers the truth...

With so many journalists losing their jobs, why is the LAT re-hiring a guy whose integrity had been seen to be virtually non-existent? What's the deal here? Do you think your readers don't have memories? At least put his old blog online.

Hurray for Hiltzik!
As writer of the Daily Breeze's Business Casual column -- and technically a competitor to any Times business columnist -- I'm happy to hear this fine journalistic talent will return as a commentator. Two of my favorite Hiltzik columns are his debunking of the "Deep Throat" success canard and suggestions for dealing with the satellite vs. cable TV fees dispute.

In my previous post welcoming Hiltzik's return as a columnist, I didn't get into his shameful ethical lapses. What he did was wrong and beyond stupid. But it's obvious that the Times kept him on and now is giving him another column bc of his skill as a journalist. I can understand why some may regret his return. It comes down to whether you're willing to forgive him. I hope he doesn't disappoint again with another ethical lapse.

Ethics are for industries not in mortal peril, apparently.

I can't imagine there are no columnists left on this Earth to fill a role like this for the LAT, but I guess you have to pick from who're left as management continues to decimate the ranks.

How about saving the cash from whomever puts together idiotic features like "Bad design trends we hope die in 2009" ("experts"? really? by what virtue? why don't we get to respond in comments to find journalistic fair like that) and spend it on real reporting of news?

I am so happy that you are returning Mr. Hiltzik to his prominent place as the conscience of the Times. Whenever I read an article in the business section of your fine newspaper, I will remember that every reporter, no matter what their name, might be Mr. Hiltzik.

His most recent article on the economic catastrophe we just experienced helped me understand exactly where the fickle finger should be pointed. God bless those Democratic sock puppets Barney Frank and Maxine Waters for steering us through (or is it into) this failure.

It is strange to see the unforgiving dislike heaped on Hiltzik, who has acknowledged what he did in 2006 and not repeated it, while at the same time there is wide acceptance in the media of people like Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News in general, where truth and accuracy are held in contempt, while they preach to the suckers.

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