Readers' Representative Journal

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Readers have questions about columnist's return*

December 24, 2008 |  4:01 pm

As evidenced by the comments that have come in on last week's announcement that Michael Hiltzik would again be writing a column for The Times, some readers recall that the paper chose to take away Hiltzik's column in 2006, and wonder why management changed its mind. The essence of the response from editors: Hiltzik has redeemed himself.

Russ Stanton, now editor of The Times, was Business editor when Hiltzik's popular column for the Business section was discontinued. As the editor's note published at the time said, Hiltzik had been found to be violating The Times' ethics guidelines by using pseudonyms to post comments on the Web that dealt with his column and other issues involving the newspaper.

Readers were also told in the 2006 editor's note, "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."

Since his column was pulled in 2006, writes Stanton, Hiltzik "has been an invaluable asset to the paper. He has earned the right to return as a columnist." In those two years, more than 35 news articles written by Hiltzik have been published on the front page. Stanton says editors believe that what readers can learn from Hiltzik the columnist will be as trustworthy as what he's delivered in his news reports.

*Update - A reader asks in a comment below: "Yes, but he will still be able to do stories?" Says Business Editor Sallie Hofmeister: Yes he will, although with two columns a week, he will have less time to write stories

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