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Voices--Paul Weeks

May 4, 2007 |  5:50 am

May 4, 1957
Los Angeles

1957_0504_weeks_mugPaul Weeks, formerly of the Mirror and The Times, says:

The Los Angeles Mirror's success was due primarily to J. Edward Murray's  journalistic talent, his creativity, his forward-looking at important issues still not properly reported, his ability to put together a staff of writers and reporters who shared his views and responded to his encouragement, his enthusiasm for his own work.

The then-decision makers in the ruling Chandler family  (before the Otis Chandler era) destroyed their own creation, abandoning the Mirror simultaneously with Hearst's ceasing publication of the Los Angeles Examiner.
 
Evening newspapers were gradually disappearing due to the rise of television. But before publishers became fully aware of that, the sparkling appearance of the Mirror rose in the Chandlers' eagerness to monopolize the market in the Los Angeles metro field. The old Los Angeles Daily News was  losing its position of the best and the brightest of newspapers with a liberal editorial bent when Manchester Boddy began to lose interest and retired to his flower gardens.
 
1957_weeks_story When The Times bought out the old Daily  News, the Mirror picked up some of us who never wanted to work for the Chandlers but  found ourselves in the hands of  the best managing  editor in the business. The Matrix prizes and the countless other awards the paper earned must be tracked directly to Ed.
 
He assigned me to explore the in-pouring black community -- its ability (or inability, more likely) to find housing, jobs and education in what was supposed to be an enlightened city. It was he who decided that Vernon McPherson and I should spend three months on Skid Row. I will never forget the day a press agent for the property owner who helped us get the story offered Vern and I $500 each if we kept the owner's name out of our story.
 
I rushed in to tell Murray about it, and he urged me with a smile to go back to work. The next day the guy came back and walked into  Murray's office. You never heard such a rumble out of him as he kicked the guy out.
 
But the Chandlers just couldn't face the "monster" they had created. If you knew of The Times in those days, you'd know they wouldn't want their rampaging little newspaper to dig up so much grist that was REALLY news. They edged out Murray and replaced his team with a couple of editors from Texas that could march to The Times' own concept of a newspaper. They enlarged the sheet from five columns to full spread. I had seldom covered politics, but when I did some advance material for the Democratic convention that picked  JFK, I got hustled off to Washington to open a one-person bureau.
 
Meantime, young Otis became publisher of The Times. The paper rose from one of the worst in the nation to among the top four -- but we all know what happened to that  when Otis left and The Times started another drop downhill.
 
 
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