Michael Kinsley was a pioneer in online journalism, founding the Microsoft-published Web journal Slate.com in 1995. Now, he is working for that oldest of media, newspapers, as editorial and opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times. Kinsley has become the target of USC law professor Susan Estrich, who claims that he doesn't have enough women writers on the page; Kinsley responds that he's striving to improve the balance and that it's now time for her to back off. He splits his time between Los Angeles and Seattle because his wife, Patty Stonesifer, is president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Question: Do you see the Internet replacing newspapers as the primary source of news in the United States?
Answer: When I was at Slate, there was a controversy about Microsoft putting newspapers out of business. There was lots of fear in general that the Internet was going to wipe out newspapers. I was a skeptic. Now I'm back in print and I really do believe that it may happen.


Q: What does that mean?
A: There is something big going on and we don't quite know what. I don't think newspapers as they exist now are going to be here as they are now. Newspapers as institutions are going to continue in some form, they ought to dominate the news. But I find it hard to believe that in 10 years you're going to have trucks delivering huge rolls of newsprint around and have presses turn them into huge printed pieces of newspaper and trucked to houses all over Southern California.


Q: Do you think newspaper editorial pages have lost some of their impact in terms of shaping public opinion?
A: We've had a lot of discussions about that. I think the role of unsigned editorials has diminished and the role of signed op-ed pieces and the Sunday section may not have diminished, but it certainly hasn't increased.


Q: What do you think of blogs, some of which have been harshly critical of you and the Times? Do you see them supplanting the traditional newspaper editorial page as a forum for civic discourse?
A: I think blogs are absolutely great. They could well put us out of business not newspapers, but newspaper opinion pages. I think newspapers do news better than any other medium out there, but I think blogs do opinion better than newspapers. It's the interactive nature of them. It's the immediacy of them. (The late New Yorker magazine journalist) A.J. Liebling said freedom of the press is for those who own one. Now just about anyone can own one.

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