Media people

Last great newspaper editor?

Ron Kaye, editor of the Daily News, delivers an homage on the paper's Op-Ed page to Jim Bellows, the editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner when Kaye was there. The piece is timed to tonight's reunion of Her Ex alumni at the Steve Allen Theater to honor Bellows and mark the 19th year since the paper folded in 1989.

He called his memoir "The Last Editor ..." but the whole truth is that Jim Bellows was the last great American newspaper editor....

It was a humbling experience to work for a news genius. Bellows had X-ray vision for the news behind the news, inside the news, the angle that hit readers between the eyes, in the heart, in the guts.

In New York, and everywhere, he attracted great writers like Tom Wolfe and Jimmy Breslin and many others who liberated newspaper writing and reporting and took their craft to new heights.

At the Washington Star, he brought style and attitude to the nation's capital and Capitol. Later at the Herald-Examiner in Los Angeles he resurrected a newspaper from the grave, and came closer to capturing the ethos of this city than anyone before or since.


I'm not sure I agree totally that those or any other major American newspapers were really rescued from their arrogance, and that may be the biggest reason we are all in trouble today.

But I do know that if Jim Bellows had ever had the chance to run one of those papers, especially the Los Angeles Times, where he was once a top news executive, they would not be like they are today.

They would be surprising, provocative and daring. Many of the writers would seem like friends who dropped by to share a laugh, a tear, a story you'd never heard before.

Kaye and reunion producer Alex Ben Block are scheduled to guest on KPCC's "Patt Morrison" at 1:45 pm.

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