History of Newspapers: The Los Angeles Times Part 1

About the history of the United States newspaper The Los Angeles Times, information about their conservative past and some of their scoops.


The Past. When an explosion ripped through the new Los Angeles Times Building, immediately killing 12 people in October, 1910, the typographers' union was a logical suspect. The owner of the Times, Gen. Hrrison Gray Otis, was a California Croesus who owned more than a million acres of ranchland in California and Mexico and was an officer or a director in 35 California corporations. Like most tycoons of his kind, he was adamantly antiunion and had refused to allow a closed (all-union) shop at the Times. Competitor William Randolph Hearst offered $5,000 for information concerning the planters of the bomb, who, it appeared, had also left a 2nd bomb, which had not exploded, in Otis's home. The union denied blame, claiming the explosion was caused by a gas leak. Eventually 21 people died as a result of the bombing. Finally, 2 labor leaders were arrested, and late in their trail, as stged by Lincoln Steffens, they dramatically cofessed to the crime. The bombing weakened the labor movement in the West, and the Times dominted journalism in Los Angeles for decades thereafter. In 1904--when the Times celebrated its 23rd year of publication--the Herald-Examiner hit the streets, but it was no real competition for Otis's paper.

Otis died in 1917, and his son-in-law, harry Chandler, became publisher. Chandler was a New Hampshire boy who had come West, become a newspaperman, and married the boss's daughter. Chandler was responsible for some innovations in the running of the Times. In 1922, the paper bought a radio station, and in 1928, it became the 1st newspaper to be delivered in part by airplane.

Chandler was as conservative as his father-in-law had been. Otis had conducted a long campaign against the reform Government in Mexico. He was vengeful because he had been unable to remove the cattle from his mexican ranch just before Diaz was overthrown. He had, from then on, pushed for any plan that would get his land, and a good chunk of Mexico, away from the reform Government. Chandler continued Otis's vendetta. Upton Sinclair, when running for governor of California in 1935, revealed that Chandler was once indicted, charged with conspiracy to send arms into Mexico, and acquitted under suspicious circumstances. Naturally after that the times was violently against Siclair, who was to lose the election. However, it was only one of several papers to call Sinclair an atheist and a socialist-communist and to print a photograph showing boxcar loads of Depression bums coming into town to celebrate Sinclair's victory. The photograph was a fake made by using extras hired from film studios. (See also: Upton Sinclair and the EPIC Campaign, Chap. 2.)

When Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for Vice-President in 1920, the Times said, He adds no Merit to the Ticket. He is a radical of unsafe tendencies."

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