Thursday, January 21, 2010
Los Angeles Daily Journal Blasts Rival Newspaper
By ROGER M. GRACE
The Los Angeles Daily Journal picks up a lot of news from the MetNews. Today, I’m going to turn the tables, and quote from the Daily Journal.
The quotes are, however, from the Daily Journal of 1900…back in the days when the DJ was not too timid to express views in editorials. The subscription price then, by the way, was $1 per month, or $10 for a whole year’s subscription.
The former tenant of the Wilcox Building currently under scrutiny here is John M. Miller, a Los Angeles lawyer who was president of the Los Angeles Evening Express in 1900-01.
Last week, I related some of the railings in his Express against the Daily Journal based on the latter having landed the county’s legal advertising contract…this being predicated simply on it having offered the lowest price of the four newspapers that competed, yet portrayed by the Express as the recipient of a gift by corrupt officials to a publication not worthy of carrying legal notices.
The DJ did not endure its belittlement in silence.
A Page One editorial on Sept. 5, 1900 bears the explosive REMINISCING (Column) “EVENING EXPRESS A JOURNALISTIC BLACKMAILER.” Below it is a deck reading:
“It Abuses the Board of Supervisors Because That Body Would Not Indorse a Steal of $3000.”
The Daily Journal’s bid was $3,000 less than that of the Express. A third headline declares:
“It Wants the County’s Money to Replenish Failing Exchequer—Would Assess Taxpayers to Maintain a Partisan Organ.”
The Express, at that point, did not appear to be allied with any political party.
The editorial (though not labeled as such) begins:
“The Express, since it recently went into the hands of strangers from the East, has been spending a great amount of money on the paper to impress the simple people of Los Angeles with its magnificence. They had money to burn, and they have evidently burnt it.
“Realizing that the meager circulation of the Express (which has within a period of three or four years brought several of its publishers to the verge of bankruptcy) would never justify their expenditures from legitimate receipts, these Eastern adventurers have lately pursued a policy of bulldozing and blackmail upon the officials of both city and county.”
The editorial alludes to assaults on the chief of police and the Police Commission by the Express…while failing to show how the criticism amounted to either “bulldozing” or “blackmail” or how it served any pecuniary interests of the Express.
The “most audacious and indecent assault” by the Express, the Daily Journal’s editorial continues, “has just been perpetrated upon the members of the Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles Daily Journal, for the sole reason that the Board last Friday by unanimous vote, decided that the Journal should be the county official paper….”
No complaint was voiced by the other two losing bidders, the Record and the Herald, or by the Times, which did not bid, the editorial notes.
It alludes to an article in Printer’s Ink, a national printing industry magazine, saying that the Express had a circulation of about 4,000 and the Daily Journal went to about 2,250—an article it reprinted in an ad it placed in the Los Angeles Times during this strategic period when it was seeking to deflect efforts by the Express to snatch the contract that had been awarded. The editorial goes on to declare:
“Six months ago the Journal offered the Associated Charities of this city a present of $100 if the Express would show a circulation of 4000. It declined the challenge. The Journal therefore has a right to assume that it has an actual larger circulation than the Express….”
The fact that the Express had declined to open up its books to a competitor—and, indeed, subscription lists are trade secrets—would not reasonably have justified any assumption by the Journal that the refusal signified that the Express had a circulation smaller than that of the DJ. In any event, the Express, in its edition that night, offered to share its circulation proofs with any advertiser.
The editorial goes on to say:
“With the Express it is a policy of rule or ruin. For refusing to be a party to this proposed steal of $3000 from the taxpayers, the members of the Board have, already suffered from an insidious, damnable attack from this journalistic courtesan, so perfectly willing to prostitute itself for financial gain….
“As for the attack upon the Journal and its circulation, this paper can stand it and flourish….
“This petty tempest in a teapot over the award of the advertising contract to the Journal is a small, despicable display of envy by the Express, and one it may live to regret.”
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company