Up early this morning, and watched a two hour special on Los Angeles as seen through the eyes of the Los Angeles Times and the Chandler Dynasty. And what a fascinating journey it was. I was raised in Venice CA, and went through the transformation of the Times from a right wing John Bircher apologist, and voted the third worst paper in the country, to a nationally recognized Pulitzer prize winning newspaper, and voted the third best paper in the country.
Otis Chandler, publisher from 1960 to 1980, led that change from the day he took over the paper as the forth publisher in the Chandler line. I remember my parents, who were right wing Birchers, dropping their subscription to the times in favor of the Los Angeles (Santa Monica) Herald Examiner. The Times had become too liberal for them. Otis Chandler was the instrument that made that change possible.
Prior to Otis, the Times refused to cover either the black or Hispanic issues of the growing city. When he took over, suddenly both races started showing up in both pictures and stories. President Nixon, at the time, ordered his Attorney General, John Mitchell, to investigate Otis Chandler to the extent his tax records were pulled. All because Nixon thought Otis’s gardener was, as Nixon put it, a “wetback.” Such were the times. But that failed to dissuade Otis from reporting on the city he loved and respected to the extent he published a six part series on the John Birch Society, and its negative effects on both the city and the country. Their coverage of the Watts riots was unprecedented at the time.
When Otis was fired by the board of the times, made up of the many members of the Chandler dynasty, the downfall of the Times was pretty much guaranteed. It went from a Pulitzer Prize winning publication, to one concerned with the bottom line only. It forgot its roots and the City of Los Angeles, and worshiped at the alter of the almighty dollar. It was sold in 2000 to the Tribune Company of Chicago, ending the Chandler line, and an era that saw Los Angeles grow from a small western hick town to a major metropolis. It’s still alive today, but only as a shadow of its former self.
I remember bringing home a copy of the Times, because they had better comics than the Examiner (I think I was around eleven at the time), and watching as my father tore it up and told me never to bring the Times in his house again. That’s really not much different than the rhetoric we are seeing today.
So my questions are: Is the print media going the way of the dinosaur because of the internet? Has reporting reverted to right/left extremes to the extent middle of the road has ceased to exist? How can one believe basic reporting when the same story, reported by the left and right, varies so much there is little to compare either to? Can today’s reporting be compared to the great reporting of the past? Got an opinion? Let’s hear it.
12 responses to “America’s newspapers: where are they headed?”
I recall reading recently (I can’t remember where) that the internet is not the problem newspapers consider it to be. Personally, I can’t see how giving away one’s product for free on-line is going to help any subscription department…
Which is why many are considering making online publications a subscription requirement to read; Wall Street Journal for one.
I think the print medium is on the way out. I have noticed the paper and weekly news magazines shrink to pamphlet size publications. Is this a good thing?
It does force future consumers of information to do a little more homework. Maybe come up with a more informed decision.
“Can today’s reporting be compared to the great reporting of the past?”
“Some people say 2 + 2 = 5, though the majority of mathmeticians say 2 + 2 = 4.”
The two opinions are reported like they have some degree of equivalence. An current example.
“While a copy of President Obama’s birth certificate has been posted on-line by the state of Hawaii, some protesters insist that Obama was born in Kenya and not therefore eligible to be president of the United States.”
Two positions equal in validity, right? Right…
It will sadden me when News papers are a thing of the past. They have in a attempt to compete with the other medias. Shortened their reporting but still they can be the best sources for the entire news.
One of their problems is they tend to be so local, that can make them subject to the local slants and public pressures. Reporting only what the public wants to hear instead of being the fair journalists they should be.
Everything that isn’t local in the Wichita Eagle is picked up from other sources word for word — AP, etc. And all they print outside local coverage I’ve already read on the net before the paper ever lands on my driveway.
Half the newspaper is ads. This from the largest city in the state!
Not long ago I thought I couldn’t do without the newspaper — sitting with my coffee, holding it in my hand, the whole experience. Recently, I’ve decided I can and will in the near future. I’m not sure how much longer I will continue to pay for something that I use more for packing material than reading material.
That is a very sad statement: But, true.
I’ve always had respect for newspapers, but I don’t anymore, and I worry what that means for our country.
Blogs are the alternative? That seems inconceivable to me.
Other views on this subject???
Not all blogs are created equally. 🙂
At the very least blogs entice me to search for information. And it isn’t more or less true with newspapers and books then it is with all words in print, including those on blogs — writing it down doesn’t make it true (or false).
We used to read the one newspaper delivered to our house. Now we have to read many sources in order to get close to what might be the truth. Reporters quit doing the investigating and we have to do it on our own.
One can find a blog representing any and all views out there. There are certain blogs I read regularly, and still read with a grain of salt. One really needs an open mind and a certain degree of intelligence to pick the wheat from the chaff. Sadly, the bs outnumbers the truth by a wide margin.
Blogs by their nature are always slanted, for the most part the slant of the creator of the blog.
I wish it was not so, but there seems no place for news and information that is without slant.