May 4, 1957
Paul 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
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.
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.