Thursday, January 14, 2010
Evening Express Hurls Insults at Daily Journal’s Manager
By ROGER M. GRACE
In recent years, now and then, disagreements have erupted as to the correctness of an award of a Los Angeles County or Los Angeles City legal advertising contract. The disagreements were resolved by the courts, with the wins and losses of the combatants—the Los Angeles Daily Journal and this newspaper—being about even.
News coverage of the disputes in either newspaper has been minimal.
There was more high spiritedness in 1900 when the Daily Journal’s rival for a county contract was the Los Angeles Evening Express, under the presidency of attorney John M. Miller.
As mentioned here last week, the Express evinced fury over the decision to award the county contract to the Journal—a publication which, according to an Express editorial, did not amount to a “newspaper of general circulation,” eligible to publish legal notices. “It may ‘circulate’ 300 copies daily,” the editorial says.
The Journal responded in a form that would not be contemplated by a losing bidder today: placing an ad in the morning Los Angeles Times (which had a circulation in excess of 25,000). The ad in the Sept. 5 edition does not directly address the controversy; it is comprised of a paragraph quoted from the July 25 issue of the national trade magazine, “Printer’s Ink,” saying, in part:
“Outside of San Francisco, but three dailies [in California] are credited with circulations in excess of 5,000 copies per issue. These are the Los Angeles Times, the Oakland Tribune, and the Sacramento Record-Union….Of the other dailies in Los Angeles, the Evening Express and Herald secure estimated ratings of exceeding 4,000 copies each, and the Journal an estimated rating of exceeding 2,250 copies.”
Reaction at the Express was one of outrage.
“False and Ludicrous” is the headline on an editorial in that night’s edition of the Express, bellowing:
“The Express has not time to stop to kick every yelping cur that gets in its way. The business of the Express is to print the news—an undertaking in which it is wonderfully successful, thank you. It merely pauses to say that a man named Warren Wilson, who through the grace of a bit of contemptible jobbery [official corruption] was awarded the contract for printing…the county advertising, buys advertising space in this morning’s Times to publish a deliberate falsehood concerning the Express’ circulation.”
Yes, there were libel laws back then, and Miller was, as I mentioned, a lawyer.
Wilson was the Daily Journal’s manager, later to become president of the company.
The editorial continues:
“No notice would be taken either of Wilson or his screed were it not for the fact that he attempts to discredit the Express by publishing his lies through the Times. When the Express goes gunning it does not waste its ammunition on gophers and field mice. Therefore Wilson is safe.”
Hold on, now. Wilson can consider himself safe from attacks from a newspaper that has just associated him with a “yelping cur” and likened him to “gophers and field mice”?
Back to the editorial:
“The Express tells the truth about its circulation as it does about all other things. It has the second largest circulation of any paper published in Southern California. Its subscription books, white paper accounts, and all other matters that will furnish information on the subject are open to any advertiser that cares to investigate. The Express’ circulation is not of the kind that requires to be covered up or lied about. Certain other publishers may find it necessary to keep subscription and paper accounts under lock and key, safe from the prying eyes or advertisers, but the Express does not. This paper is run on a different plan.
“As far as Mr. Wilson’s attack is concerned, it is wholly false and unworthy of further notice.”
It’s hard to construe the republication in an ad of a paragraph from a national magazine summarizing publication figures for California newspapers as much of an “attack.”
In its editorial column on Sept.7, and on subsequent days, there appears in the Express a declaration that:
“The daily circulation of the Los Angeles Evening Express exceeds 10,000 copies. No edition has been as low as 9,000 for a long period. During the last three months a steady increase has compelled us to print more than TEN THOUSAND daily.”
The statement is signed by “W.A. KELSEY, General Manager,” and appearing below is a notary public’s attestation of the signature. (The statement was not under penalty of perjury.)
In the Sept. 18 edition, there appears a proclamation, in the editorial column, that “The circulation of the Los Angeles Evening Express on Saturday, Sept. 15, reached HIGH WATER MARK, THIRTEEN THOUSAND COPIES, printed and sold.”
It’s declares that “[t]he pressroom is…wide open and our workmen are instructed to truthfully answer all inquiries as to the papers printed.”
All this was in pursuit of an ill-starred effort to wrest the contract from the Daily Journal.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company