While researching his forthcoming biography of the late California political leader Jess Unruh, Bill Boyarsky delved into the story of how reporter Paul Weeks covered the civil rights era at an L.A. Times that wasn't sure it wanted to hear — or report — what he had to say. Boyarsky, the L.A. city ethics commissioner and former Times city editor, writes at his LA Observed blog:
Such coverage was not a career booster. Weeks got into trouble with his bosses when he protested the ejection of a black reporter working for the African American newspaper, the Sentinel, from a meeting of a segregationist organization. Eventually, Weeks was removed from the civil rights beat. When he left the beat in 1964, he told his editor “This town is going to blow up one of these days, and the Times won’t know what hit it.”
The Watts riot occurred a year later, and the Times had to recruit a young African American man from the advertising department to help cover it.
Paul knew it was coming, and why. But nobody listened.
As I mentioned in today's Morning Buzz, Rip Rense has posted an interview with Weeks as well as a link to his final column on old L.A. journalism to run in the Stockton Record. Weeks died this week.
Unexpected note: Charles Lane, the character actor who passed away at 102, was related to Slate's Mickey Kaus.