Stephen Burgard was an editorial writer in the Los Angeles Times Orange County edition and now is director of the journalism program at Northeastern University. He emails:
A few thoughts prompted by the Patt Morrison column, the David Shaw obit, and the David Marcus observations [see Morrison link]:
The paper may do many things better in recent times, but as they say, the child stands on the shoulders of the grandfather and says, "Look how far I can see." Otis made the Times a place that many journalists like myself aspired to work. The excellent reputation of the Los Angeles Times east of the Mississippi is what prompted me to move my family across the country in 1990. This was to take part in David Laventhol and Shelby Coffey's worthy experiment of building quality regional coverage in Orange County, based in part on the New York Newsday model.
Otis's standard will be a yardstick, even on the days when it is not met. There was a touch of irony for this reader on the same day as the obit and Patt's column. We needed to look only to the left of Patt's piece to find a remarkable exercise in opinion page triviality. There we learned that an Oscar nominee, apparently resigned to going to the big night in her own dress, was shepherded by the op-ed columnist Joel Stein to find suitable handouts.
It used to be that we accomplished something on the Times opinion pages when we got an unworthy candidate to withdraw his candidacy for judgeship, as happened when Donald Segretti's name was put forward in Orange County. Now the standard seems to be, use the influence of Times op-ed to get a set of $20,000 earrings and a free pair of sunglasses to wear on Oscar night.
Otis reminded us of the standard during the Staples crisis. Keeping that bar high will be his legacy.
Stephen D. Burgard
Director, School of Journalism
Public services for Otis Chandler will be held at 11 am Monday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. The in-house memorial is Tuesday at 5:30 pm at the Times' Chandler Auditorium. Members of the Chandler family and former employees are expected.
* Best Chandler story ever: (11:10 am) Times Sports Editor Bill Dwyre's night out with Otis, on the website where you'd least expect to find Dwyre—the Huffington Post!