On the Valley's news wars of the 1960s

My posts on Dr. Martin Luther King in the west valley and mention of the late Valley Times newspaper led reader Jim Houck to point me to a Time magazine story on that newspaper in 1963. The story talks about how a new owner, John Cowles, beefed up the paper with new staff and news bureaus, with deeper coverage. The other Valley paper, precursor to today's Daily News, was hopelessly boosterish and the L.A. Times had yet to embrace the Otis Chandler era of high ambitions. "It was like being in on the early days of Pulitzer's Post-Dispatch, TIME or The New Yorker," a Valley Times staffer said. "We all felt that we were part of a mission."

It didn't work, Time says

Circulation increased by only 1,500 copies; the paper lost about $25,000 a month.

The failure can be blamed largely on the character of the Valley. Like so many suburban areas, San Fernando Valley is an amorphous appendage of Los Angeles rather than a well-defined community. Its commuters drive to work, have no time to read while going to and from their jobs. When they do reach for a paper, there are plenty besides the Valley Times Today. The area is swamped with half-ads shoppers' throwaways. And to make matters worse, the Los Angeles Times met the Cowles challenge by starting a Valley edition (circ. 86,000.)

Disappointed by the Valley, Cowles sold out for about $2,000,000 to Lammot Copeland Jr., son of Du Font's president. The paper has resumed its old name and much of its old flavor.

More by Kevin Roderick:
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