David Laventhol, retired LA Times publisher, was 81

David Laventhol created a new form of feature section, the Washington Post Style section, while an editor there in 1968. He moved on to Long Island's Newsday to become executive editor and publisher, and when the paper became part of Times Mirror he moved up in that company and became Los Angeles Times publisher in 1990. Laventhol, who lived in Manhattan, died Wednesday of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

From the New York Times obituary:

By 1987, he was president of Times Mirror; three years later, he was publisher of The Los Angeles Times.

During Mr. Laventhol’s three years in that post, the paper added correspondents in Berlin, Brussels and Tokyo and opened a Seattle bureau. After the riots following the 1992 acquittal of four white police officers charged with beating black motorist Rodney King, Mr. Laventhol started a Sunday section covering Los Angeles’s inner city. He also started a Spanish-language tabloid.

Among the three Pulitzers The Times received during Mr. Laventhol’s tenure as publisher, one was for its coverage of the 1992 riots. The inner-city edition was closed several years after Mr. Laventhol retired as publisher in 1993, after he was found to have Parkinson’s disease.

Laventhol was chairman of the Pulitzer Prizes board two separate times, and was publisher and editor of the Columbia Journalism Review from 1999 to 2003. He had been working on a book about the history of the Times-Mirror Corporation as his Parkinson's worsened. From the LA Times obituary:

Colleagues who worked with Laventhol over decades and on both coasts remembered him as a newspaper man's publisher and bold visionary in an era when newspapers were financially ascendant and their leaders were household names….

As publisher of The Times from September 1989 until January 1994, Laventhol presided over the expansion of daily coverage in Orange County and the San Fernando Valley and the opening of a Ventura County edition.

Editors who oversaw The Times' coverage of the first Persian Gulf war and the 1992 Los Angeles riots recalled him as a strong advocate for journalists.

Shelby Coffey III, editor of The Times during the riots, said Laventhol showed his strength in approving funding for five special sections.

"It was also a huge expenditure of newsprint," Coffey said. "Given that it was a time of recession in Southern California and tight cost controls, it was a big call on the publisher's part to allow us to do that, and it had a key part in allowing us to get a Pulitzer Prize."

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