'92 riots

When LA Weekly (did) cover the riots *


Updated with new information: the LA Weekly found its own missing May 8, 1992 issue

According to LA Weekly blogger Simone Wilson, who went back through the paper's archives, in 1992 "two full issues went by without any mention of the riots."

Then, on May 15, there was one news short -- but it focused on the political future of L.A. County District Attorney Ira Reiner, whose career we could clearly give a damn about all these years later....

The May 15 issue also featured a special riots-themed edition of Matt Groening's long-running Life in Hell comic strip.

The week's cover story, meanwhile, lamented the near-extinct lifestyle of the cowboy-poet. (Yes, cowboys who are also poets.) We noticed a two-page spread on Cormac McCarthy's latest, All the Pretty Horses, as well.

The city still smelled of smoke.

Ted Soqui, the photographer behind the completely insane/heart-stopping photos in the pages of our current edition, says the LA Weekly didn't request his services back when the riots broke out, although he was a regular contributor and one of the first photojournalists at the scene.

Back then, the Weekly "was more writerly, not a photographer's paper at all," says Soqui."The photos were put in almost because they had to be. They didn't tell me to go out -- I just did it. If I had waited, I think it would have been days until they called me."

The Groening cartoon above is from the May 22, 1992 issue, Wilson says. Kit Rachlis, later the editor of Los Angeles magazine and now editor of The American Prospect, was editor then of the LA Weekly. Wilson says she queried Rachlis about it but he couldn't talk until next week.

Soqui, by the way, expands on his experiences covering the riots in a piece on the Daily Beast. He has been posting photos to mark the anniversary for several years on his blog.

The print LA Weekly has a seven-page package devoted to the riots this week, including Soqui's before and after images.

* Updated: Wilson now says she missed the May 8, 1992 issue. The LA Weekly did cover the riots, with "a collaborative hour-by-hour account of how it all came down on the streets in the wake of Rodney King verdict." Says an editor's note: "We regret the error."

Added: Harold Meyerson, executive editor of the Weekly in 1992, writes in about what the paper actually did.

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent '92 riots stories on LA Observed:
Steve Lopez catches up with the riot victim we don't know
Best evidence yet of the LA Weekly's riots effort in '92 *
Beck on how the riots changed him and LA
LA Times writers revisit their '92 riots observations
LA Weekly's executive editor in '92 details riot coverage
Los Angeles more worldly since '92, LA Times 'more insular'
A new generation steps up
Police union's take on what we've learned from the riots


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