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Front page from October 21, 2008
|Founded||December 4, 1881|
|Headquarters||202 West 1st Street|
Los Angeles, California 90012
Front page from October 21, 2008
|Founded||December 4, 1881|
|Headquarters||202 West 1st Street|
Los Angeles, California 90012
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country. In 2000, the Tribune Company, parent company of the Chicago Tribune and the area's KTLA, purchased the Los Angeles Times.
The Times was first published on December 4, 1881, as the Los Angeles Daily Times under the direction of Nathan Cole Jr. and Thomas Gardiner. It was printed at the Mirror printing plant, owned by Jesse Yarnell and T.J. Caystile. Unable to pay the printing bill, Cole and Gardiner turned the paper over to the Mirror Company. In the meantime, S.J. Mathes had joined the firm, and it was at his insistence that the Times continued publication. In July 1882, Harrison Gray Otis moved from Santa Barbara to become the paper's editor. Otis made the Times a financial success.
In an era where newspapers were driven by party politics, the Times was directed at Republican readers. In an extreme example of partisan tilt, the newspaper waited several days to report the 1884 victory of Democratic presidential candidate Grover Cleveland.
Historian Kevin Starr wrote that Otis was a businessman "capable of manipulating the entire apparatus of politics and public opinion for his own enrichment". Otis's editorial policy was based on civic boosterism, extolling the virtues of Los Angeles and promoting its growth. Toward those ends, the paper supported efforts to expand the city's water supply by acquiring the watershed of the Owens Valley, an effort fictionalized in the Roman Polanski movie Chinatown, which is also covered in California Water Wars.
The efforts of the Times to fight local unions led to the October 1, 1910, bombing of its headquarters, killing twenty-one people. Two union leaders, James and Joseph McNamara, were charged. The American Federation of Labor hired noted trial attorney Clarence Darrow to represent the brothers, who eventually pleaded guilty. Otis fastened a bronze eagle on top of a high frieze of the new Times headquarters, proclaiming anew the credo written by his wife, Eliza: "Stand Fast, Stand Firm, Stand Sure, Stand True."
Upon Otis's death in 1917, his son-in-law, Harry Chandler, took control as publisher of the Times. Harry Chandler was succeeded in 1944 by his son, Norman Chandler, who ran the paper during the rapid growth of post-war Los Angeles. Norman's wife, Dorothy Buffum Chandler, became active in civic affairs and led the effort to build the Los Angeles Music Center, whose main concert hall was named the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in her honor. Family members are buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery near Paramount Studios. The site also includes a memorial to the Times Building bombing victims.
The fourth generation of family publishers, Otis Chandler, held that position from 1960 to 1980. Otis Chandler sought legitimacy and recognition for his family's paper, often forgotten in the power centers of the Northeastern United States due to its geographic and cultural distance. He sought to remake the paper in the model of the nation's most respected newspapers, notably The New York Times and Washington Post. Believing that the newsroom was "the heartbeat of the business", Otis Chandler increased the size and pay of the reporting staff and expanded its national and international reporting. In 1962, the paper joined with the Washington Post to form the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service to syndicate articles from both papers for other news organizations.
During the 1960s, the paper won four Pulitzer Prizes, more than its previous nine decades combined.
Writing in 2013 about the pattern of newspaper ownership by founding families, Times reporter Michael Hiltzik said that:
The first generations bought or founded their local paper for profits and also social and political influence (which often brought more profits). Their children enjoyed both profits and influence, but as the families grew larger, the later generations found that only one or two branches got the power, and everyone else got a share of the money. Eventually the coupon-clipping branches realized that they could make more money investing in something other than newspapers. Under their pressure the companies went public, or split apart, or disappeared. That's the pattern followed over more than a century by the Los Angeles Times under the Chandler family.
The paper's early history and subsequent transformation was chronicled in an unauthorized history Thinking Big (1977, ISBN 0-399-11766-0), and was one of four organizations profiled by David Halberstam in The Powers That Be (1979, ISBN 0-394-50381-3; 2000 reprint ISBN 0-252-06941-2). It has also been the whole or partial subject of nearly thirty dissertations in communications or social science in the past four decades.
The Times was beset in the first decade of the 21st century by a change in ownership, a bankruptcy, a rapid succession of editors, reductions in staff, decreases in paid circulation and the need to increase its Web presence.
In December 2008, the Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy protection.
The single copy rates are $1.50 daily and $2 on Sundays and Thanksgiving Day. On December 3, 2012, the paper increased its daily price 50%.
Times sportswriter Jim Murray won a Pulitzer in 1990.
Times investigative reporters Chuck Philips and Michael Hiltzik won the Pulitzer in 1999 for a year-long series that exposed corruption in the music business. Mark Saylor, then-entertainment editor of the business section, said it recognized "aggressive reporting on the hometown industry ... where The LA Times has long labored under a cloud, the misperception that ...[they]... were soft on the entertainment industry".
Times journalist David Willman won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting; the organization cited "his pioneering expose of seven unsafe prescription drugs that had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and an analysis of the policy reforms that had reduced the agency’s effectiveness." In 2004, the paper won five prizes, which is the third-most by any paper in one year (behind The New York Times in 2002 (7) and The Washington Post in 2008 (6)).
Times reporters Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2009 "for their fresh and painstaking exploration into the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat the growing menace of wildfires across the western United States."
In the 19th century, the chief competition to the Times was the Los Angeles Herald, followed by the smaller Los Angeles Tribune. In December 1903, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst began publishing the Los Angeles Examiner as a direct morning competitor to the Times. In the 20th century, the Los Angeles Express was an afternoon competitor, as was Manchester Boddy's Los Angeles Daily News, a Democratic newspaper.
By the mid-1940s, the Times was the leading newspaper in terms of circulation in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In 1948, it launched the Los Angeles Mirror, an afternoon tabloid, to compete with both the Daily News and the merged Herald-Express. In 1954, the Mirror absorbed the Daily News. The combined paper, the Mirror-News, ceased publication in 1962, when the Hearst afternoon Herald-Express was merged with the morning Los Angeles Examiner.
For 69 years, from 1885 until 1954, the Times issued on New Year's Day a special annual Midwinter Number or Midwinter Edition that extolled the virtues of Southern California. At first it was called the "Trade Number," and in 1886 it featured a special press run of "extra scope and proportions"; that is, "a twenty-four-page paper, and we hope to make it the finest exponent of this [Southern California] country that ever existed." Two years later, the edition had grown to "forty-eight handsome pages (9x15 inches), [which] stitched for convenience and better preservation," was "equivalent to a 150-page book." The last use of the phrase Trade Number was in 1895, when the edition had grown to thirty-six pages split among three separate sections.
The Midwinter Number drew acclamations from other newspapers, including this one from the Kansas City Star in 1923:
It is made up of five magazines with a total of 240 pages – the maximum size possible under the postal regulations. It goes into every detail of information about Los Angeles and Southern California that the heart could desire. It is virtually a cyclopedia on the subject. It drips official statistics. In addition it verifies the statistics with a profusion of illustration. . . . it is a remarkable combination of guidebook and travel magazine.—
In 1948 the Midwinter Edition, as it was then called, had grown to "7 big picture magazines in beautiful rotogravure reproduction." The last mention of the Midwinter Edition was in a Times advertisement on January 10, 1954.
Between 1891 and 1895, the Times also issued a similar Midsummer Number, the first one with the theme "The Land and Its Fruits.". Because of its issue date in September, the edition was in 1891 called the Midsummer Harvest Number.
In the 1990s, the Times published various editions catering to far-flung areas. Editions included a Ventura County edition, an Inland Empire edition, a San Diego County edition, and a "National Edition" that was distributed to Washington, D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area. The National Edition was closed in December 2004.
Some of these editions were folded into Our Times, a group of community supplements included in editions of the regular Los Angeles Metro newspaper.
A subsidiary, Times Community Newspapers, publishes the Burbank Leader, Coastline Pilot of Laguna Beach, Crescenta Valley Sun, Daily Pilot of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, Glendale News-Press, Huntington Beach Independent and La Cañada Valley Sun.
Among the Times's staff are columnists Steve Lopez and Patt Morrison and film critic Kenneth Turan. Sports columnists include Bill Plaschke, who is also a panelist on ESPN's Around the Horn, and Helene Elliott, the first female sportswriter to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Former sports editor Bill Dwyre is also a columnist.
One of the Times's features is "Column One," a feature that appears daily on the front page to the left-hand side. Established in September 1968, it is a place for the weird and the interesting; in the How Far Can a Piano Fly? (a compilation of Column One stories) introduction, Patt Morrison writes that the column's purpose is to elicit a "Gee, that's interesting, I didn't know that" type of reaction.
The Times also embarked on a number of investigative journalism pieces. A series in December 2004 on the King-Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles led to a Pulitzer Prize and a more thorough coverage of the hospital's troubled history. Lopez wrote a five-part series on the civic and humanitarian disgrace of Los Angeles' Skid Row, which became the focus of a 2009 motion picture, The Soloist. It also won 62 awards at the SND awards.
In 1996, the Times started the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, in association with the University of California, Los Angeles. It has panel discussions, exhibits, and stages during two days at the end of April each year. In 2011, the Festival of Books was moved to the University of Southern California.
Since 1980, the Times has awarded annual book prizes. The categories are now biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult fiction. In addition, the Robert Kirsch Award is presented annually to a living author with a substantial connection to the American West whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition".
The Times-Mirror Company was a founding co-owner of then-CBS turned independent (and eventual Fox flagship) television station KTTV. It became that station's sole owner in 1951, and remained so until the station was sold to Metromedia in 1963. For the next seven years, Times-Mirror had no television station until it purchased the Dallas Times Herald, the owner of KRLD-TV (now KDFW) in Dallas, Texas, in 1970.
Times-Mirror Broadcasting, as the division was named, later acquired KTBC in Austin, TX; WVTM-TV in Birmingham, AL; and KTVI in St. Louis, MO. The group was sold to Argyle Television in 1994; soon after, that group merged with New World Communications, and KTBC, KDFW, and KTVI all switched to Fox, while WVTM was sold to NBC (and is currently owned by Media General). (Ironically, KTVI is set to become a Tribune-owned station, with the merger of Tribune and KTVI's owners, Local TV, and yet the newspaper side, including the Times, is set to be spun off in 2014.)
The company also entered the field of cable television, servicing the Phoenix, AZ and San Diego areas, amongst others. They were originally titled Times-Mirror Cable, and were later renamed to Dimension Cable Television. Similarly, they also attempted to enter the pay-TV market, with the Spotlight movie network; it wasn't successful and was quickly shut down. The cable systems were sold in the mid-1990s to Cox Communications.