History of Newspapers: The Los Angeles Times Part 3

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


The Present. The Times again dominates journalism in huge, rambling, 4,800-mi.-sq. Los Angeles. The 3rd largest paper in the U.S., it is the biggest and richest daily on the West Coast. The Herald-Examiner, constantly crippled by strikes, is currently its only competition in the city. The paper is physically huge, often running over 200 pages on Sunday; it accounts for at least 20% of the newsprint used in the 11 Western States, and it carries more advertising linage than any other daily in the country. By 1974, its circulation was over a million.

Nick Williams, the editor largely responsible for the paper's metamorphosis, now retired, says the Times is designed to "be a serious, opinion-leading newspaper by daily addressing itself to the issues facing Los Angeles, California, the U.S., and the world."

Today the paper emphasizes accurate coverage of the news, both domestic and foreign. Its Washington bureau has 4 times the staff it had in 1963. By 1974, there were 19 foreign correspondents in contrast to the one foreign correspondent the paper had in 1962. The Times maintains bureaus in all major cities of the U.S. In 1962, it began a reciprocal news service with The Washington Post.

Still pursuing a moderate-Republican stance, the paper's editorial pages are well balanced, with a mÈlange of syndicated columns. The Times has made it a policy not to endorse candidates for high offices such as President and governor.

It has great impact on public opinion. Ted Weegar, the assistant managing editor, wrote in the summer of 1966:

Following the Watts riots of August, 1965, the Times said editorially on numerous occasions that solutions to the race problem lay in the area of increased contacts with the city officials and the Negro community, and vigorous implementation of the poverty program. The Times's position was not warmly received. The mayor and the chief of police were not in accord with our stand. But the paper steadfastly stuck to its viewpoint and stuck to it pretty much alone. Indeed, the newspaper found itself the only voice in the community at a time when the city desperately needed to hear from all its elements. Now, however, a year hence, other opinions are arriving at the editorial stand we took then. There has been some progress in race relations, and the road ahead is a long one, but the way was blazed by the Times.

The Times's physical plant covers an entire city block at the Los Angeles Civic Center. With a construction cost of over $63 million, it contains the most modern equipment, including color presses and electronic data-processing machines. Its 96 press units can print up to 540,000 copies of a 64-page pamphlet in an hour.

Scoops. In 1965, the Times won a Pulitzer Prize for it coverage of the Watts riots.

The Times had the 1st exclusive interview with Alfred C. Baldwin, who was manning a listening post at the Watergate break-in. When Bureau Chief John Lawrence refused to turn the interview tapes over to the Watergate prosecutors, Judge John Sirica sentenced him to a 2 1/2-year jail term. With Baldwin's permission, the tapes were later submitted.

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