History of the Los Angeles Times
The largest metropolitan newspaper on the west coast was founded in 1881 by Nathan Cole, Jr. and Thomas Gardiner. The new Los Angeles Daily Times was printed by the Mirror Printing Office and Book Bindery, but after a short time Cole and Gardner were unable to pay for the printing.
They turned over ownership of the paper to the Mirror Company to pay off the debt.
In 1882 Harrison Gray Otis took over as editor and finally launched a financially successful paper, then in 1884 Otis purchased both the Times and Mirror, combining them to form the Times-Mirror Company.
In 1886 Otis bought out his partner in Times-Mirror, dropped the word “Daily” from the paper’s name, and continued to serve as the publisher until his death in 1917 when his son-in-law, Harry Chandler, took over.
The Chandler family published the Los Angeles Times until the 1980s, then went through a series of publishers until the paper was purchased by the Tribune network. Tribune is the only media company at the time that holds television, news, and online content in the top three major markets (New York, LA, and Chicago). This reaches 80% of US households. Under Tribune, Our Times, individual publications serving different neighborhoods in LA, were shut down. The paper begins to focus instead on news that affects all Southern Californians.
While owned by Tribune, the Los Angeles Times encountered financial problems and declining public respect.
In 2008, in order to compensate for declining profits, staff cuts were made. A public backlash ensued, and a satirical website, notthelatimes.com, was created. Finally in 2008 Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection. Sam Zell purchased both the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
Interesting Facts about the Los Angeles Times
- 1910: The Times building is attacked by union terrorists. The building is destroyed and 20 employees were killed.
- 1955: Published more lines of advertising than any other American newspaper
- 1965: Over 4 million classified advertisements and over 100 million lines of advertising are printed in one year (a total of 101,414,589 lines), making the Times the first newspaper in history to publish at this volume
- Daily record for page views on latimes.com (5.2 million) set September 12, 2001, the day after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in New York.
- Hosts Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
2004: wins 5 Pulitzers in one year, the most won by any paper in a single year.
- Charitable work: for over 50 years the Times has raised money to help disadvantage children go to camp with the Summer camp Campaign
- Currently ranked as the 4th largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation
Using the Archives
The Los Angeles Times offers archival or back issue copies from 1881-present.
Copies from 1881 to 1988 are digital images of print copies and typically include articles, birth announcements, wedding announcements, classifieds, and photographs. These are not available for online viewing but may be purchased. Archival copies from 1988 to present are text copies and do not include advertising, photographs, wedding announcements, birth announcements, or classifieds. In this date range abstracts or summaries of articles can be viewed at no charge and the full text is available for purchase.