Bill Dwyre remembers sports editor Dave Moylan

By Bill Dwyre

The second of the two people most responsible for the acclaim received by the Los Angeles Times for its 1984 Olympic coverage is now gone. Dave Moylan died Tuesday.

He was 83, long retired, and living in Highland with Jeannette, his wife of 65 years.

dave-moylan.jpgHe was the consummate newspaperman. He was in his professional prime in an era when what landed on your doorstep each morning was golden, and essential to daily life. As he got older and watched his world change to blogging and social media, and he viewed what the ravages of Twitter had done to his life work, he tended to mumble curse words.

The production of the '84 Olympics section was a massive task. For 24 days, the paper put out a 40-44-page Olympic section, as well as the usual fat and happy sports section. The creative genius for the Olympic section was a man named George Kiseda, himself a legend in that era of newspaper sports journalism. Kiseda died a decade ago.

Kiseda set the tone, created the story ideas and prodded the largest daily newspaper sports staff ever to take on coverage of an Olympic Games into daily action. When Kiseda's stories arrived, Moylan took over. He was the production chief, the man on the composing room floor, making the pages flow in a timely manner to the presses, making the printers hop and making everything look organized and simple for those who picked up the section the next day.

It was far from simple. Moylan was loud and loved. He treated the compositors on the composing room floor--the men and women cutting and pasting the copy and making everything fit and look good--like dogs. And they loved him for it. He was tough. He demanded every ounce of energy from them, and if that meant cursing a few out to their faces, so be it. They knew that putting together 44 pages a night was a ridiculous undertaking, but Moylan somehow made them understand their importance and take pride in it.

Every night, when it was done--all the adjusting and last-minute changes demanded by editors who all too often had no real understanding of how complicated it all was in the production process--Moylan circulated to slap his composing room people on the back. The friendly gesture was often accompanied with a verbal jab. It was affection by insult. And it was Moylan's way, and it worked. Often, if another editor tried to instruct a printer on a page, the printer's response was: "Let's wait 'till Dave gets here."

The Times Olympic section, more than a million papers needing to be distributed nightly in big trucks over hundreds of square miles of Southern California in time for readers to have it on their tables for breakfast, never went late on the composing room floor. Moylan never missed a deadline.

He was a great newspaperman. He was sports editor of smaller papers, moved on to became associate sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and came to The Times and its sports copy desk in 1977. He rose to Associate Sports Editor of The Times, No. 2 on the staff at that time, and that was the title he carried during the Olympics.

When he wasn't verbally nudging composing room workers to make deadline, he was a stellar page designer and a sports journalist with a near-perfect sense for what readers wanted. His sound news judgement influenced years of tone-setting for the section. He received little credit for that and wanted little. He was a team player in the best sense of the cliché.

His main weakness was that he hated tennis--"pansy sport," he called it--and he had the misfortune of working for a boss who felt the opposite. He never quit trying and he never won the battle, smiling ruefully as he designed big headlines for Wimbledon.

He leaves behind a son, Bryan, also a former employee of The Times; two grandchildren, and a wish that somebody would drop a bomb on Twitter.

Bill Dwyre was sports editor of the Los Angeles Times for 25 years. He retired as columnist in 2015. He enjoyed tennis.


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