Thursday, January 7, 2010
Express Ridiculed by Record, Takes Slap at Daily Journal
By ROGER M. GRACE
After John M. Miller took over as president of the Evening Express in February, 1900, the newspaper was not shy about tooting its own horn. It fired upon, and incurred return shellings from, rival newspapers.
In its March 27 issue, the Express published a spate of obviously solicited words of praise of it from prominent citizens…such as Gov. Henry T. Gage, quoted as terming it “a model newspaper” and District Attorney James Rives, remarking: “I notice it is broadening out under new management.”
Los Angeles City Council President Herman Silver (after whom the reservoir known as Silver Lake was named, giving rise to the name of the nearby community) says the newspaper “is to be commended for the independent course it promises to pursue.”
The pastor of a Presbyterian church comments: “It is kinder to the churches than any other paper in town. I know Judge Miller, the president of the company, to be a very able man….”
A U.S. senator, the mayor of Los Angeles, and two Los Angeles Superior Court judges are among those with words of praise. (Not included among the well-wishers was Chief of Police Charles Elton whose alleged incompetence was repeatedly alleged by the Express.)
An editorial in the following day’s issue of the Los Angeles Record scoffs:
“The seductive evening sheet last night published two columns of interviews with some of the leading men of Los Angeles who leave the casual reader to infer that life without the Express would be one long, dreary, monotonous vale of tears. The reasons why these gentlemen cannot do without the Express are not always clear and must, in many cases, be inferred by the readers.
The Express, founded in 1871, was the city’s oldest newspaper.
“Good old port, like good old Express, is apt to make men drowsy,” the Record’s editorial alleges.
It goes on to say that in schools, “newspapers like the Express can be utilized to good effect as to how ‘English should not be written.’ ” The final brickbat is:
“But the greatest boon that the Express has conferred on humanity is sleep—‘gentle nature’s sweet restorer.’ ”
The Express did not display soporific propensities when it protested, in print, the award of the county’s legal advertising contract to the Los Angeles Daily Journal. A Sept. 1, 1900 editorial bellows:
“The board of supervisors has awarded the contract for the county advertising to the Daily Journal, an obscure class publication, that few taxpayers outside of the legal profession are aware exists. For the information of the public at large, which it must be conceded has some slight interest in the affairs of Los Angeles county, the Express will state that the Journal is published every morning except Sunday; that it contains the calendars of the various departments of the superior court, a record of mortgages and other documents flied in the recorder’s office, and that the subscription price is one dollar per month. It may ‘circulate’ 300 copies daily.
“The Journal is not a newspaper of general circulation. It cannot ‘advertise’ anything. A written notice on one of Mr. [Gaylord] Wilshire’s billboards situated in an outlying portion of the city would be read by more persons than if printed in the Journal.”
Wilshire was an entrepreneur after whom Wilshire Boulevard is named.
The editorial goes on to say:
“The supervisors have not even the excuse of complying with the letter of the law, ignoring as they did the entire spirit of the law. The law requires that the county printing be awarded to a newspaper. In a similar case in Riverside county last spring Judge [Joseph S.] Noyes decided that a newspaper is one that publishes general news concerning current events, and emphatically declared that a paper devoted to the publication of any special line of news, such as legal news, church news, society news or other specialized news was not a newspaper in the meaning of the law and therefore ineligible to receive a contract for publishing the county advertising.”
The County Government Act of 1891, and other provisions, required that specified county notices be published in a newspaper “of general circulation,” a term that would not be defined until the addition of a section in 1905 to the then-Political Code.
The editorial charges that the “supervisors in awarding the contract to the Journal have not only stooped to a bit of contemptible jobbery [corruption] but they have actually thrown away several thousands of dollars of the people’s money,” warning:
“It is a fact that the people will not forget when the supervisors are called to give an accounting for their stewardship at the polls.”
The Express and the Daily Journal would spar; the Express would call for the non-nomination by a political party of two supervisors who had voted to award the contract to the Daily Journal; the Times would seemingly side with the Daily Journal; the Express would assail the Times.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company