History of Newspapers: The Los Angeles Times Part 2

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


The paper continued its antilabor stand. It fought the establishment of a 40-hour work week, announcing in an editorial that most workers spet their spare time in "the only diversions they know--pool, poker, drinking, and petty agitation over a fancied grievance." In December, 1937, the May Company department store clerks were striking for higher pay (more than 30 cent hour) and improved working conditions. Two Times headlines about the strike read ASSASINATION OF SANTA CLAUS and MURDER OF THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS. It may or may not be significant that these appeared even though the May Company was placing full-page ads in the Times at the time.

In 1944, Norman Chandler, Harry's son, became publisher of the Times. He developed the Times-Mirror Company and expanded its operations to include printing, publication of educational materials, and graphic arts. In 1960, he became president and chairman of the board of the Times-Mirror Company. His son, Otis Chandler, succeeded him as publisher of the Times.

Under Otis Chandler, then 33 years old, the paper underwent a miraculous transformation. The writing and editing staff was greatly improved, and its extreme bias was softened, though the paper remained Republican. Chandler himself said later, "We tended to be very conservative, and we used to bias the news--we didn't print both sides of labor-management disputes, we couldn't print much Democratic news, we were narrow in our religious coverage." Some said that The New York Times's abortive effort in 1962 to start a West Coast edition panicked the Los Angeles Times into expansion and improvement, but Chandler denied this, saying that the changes were begun in 1959 and 75% completed by 1962. By 1965, the London Economist could say of the Times that it was the "best California newspaper. . . . a few years back it was a shoddy sheet of extreme right-wing viewpoint and with a Hollywood divorce focus for its news measurement."

Still relatively conservative, the Times supported Barry Goldwater for President in 1964--with certain reservations--and Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972. However, in 1968 and 1972, it also backed Tom Bradley, a black Democrat, against incumbent Yorty for mayor of Los Angeles. (Bradley won in 1972.)

In 1964, the paper began to publish in-depth series such as "The Press and the Courts," by Gene Blake (1964); "The View from Watts," by Jack Jones (1965); "South Koreans in Vietnam," by John Randolph (1966); "Southern California A.D. 2000," by Sterling Slappey (1966).

By 1967, with its drastic changes in format, its more balanced point of view, and greater thoughtfulness and depth, the Times had raised its circulation from about 525,000 in 1960 to 650,000.

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