Longtime broadcaster Lew Irwin operates Studio Briefing, an Internet-based daily digest of entertainment industry news. This is his story about reporting on the NAACP brutality lawsuits against the Police Department.
I was working for KPOL... I was the news director there... and what I was doing was hanging out with those people. The guy was the attorney from the NAACP [presumably George L. Vaughn Jr.--lrh]. I'd had a bunch of meetings with this guy. He had been feeding me stories for a long time. But I can't remember what they were about. But I do remember one guy I interviewed. The poor guy was a disabled American veteran who had been pulled out of a car, thrown to the ground, beaten up by the police.
Beyond that I can't remember much.
The sales manager knew [Police Chief William H.] Parker and Parker called the sales manager. Being a good reporter, I called to get a comment from the LAPD, so Parker called the sales manager. I can't recall what he said but he certainly didn't want to see the thing going on the air. I'd finished it. I was about to put it on the air without a comment from the LAPD. And he called the sales manager. The sales manager talked to the rest of the people.
It was not unusual in those days. Especially back then... I remember doing a story about the John Birch Society. I couldn't say that Robert Welch, who was the head of the organization, I couldn't say he called Eisenhower an agent of the Communist conspiracy because Eisenhower might sue. Stuff like that. All kinds of stuff. I was hauled into the manager's office.
That was kind of the nature of the business.
During the Watts riots I was out there every single day about 24 hours a day. I was traveling around with some kids and we had a deal that if we got stopped by any gangster types that I would tell them I was married to one of their sisters... I did a lot of that kind of reporting. I was hanging out. Almost everybody I knew was a source. I was really young, so that's all I was doing.