Examiner, Mirror Fold; L.A. Becomes Two-Newspaper Town

Jan. 6, 1962, Mirror Folkds
Jan. 6, 1962, Mirror Folds
Jan. 5, 1962: A dark, painful day in the history of Los Angeles journalism. Virtually overnight, the city becomes a two-newspaper town. The evening Mirror ceases publication Jan. 5, merging with The Times, and the morning Examiner merges with the evening Herald-Express on Jan. 7, prompting a congressional investigation of possible collusion.

A tearful Norman Chandler, president of Times-Mirror Co.,  tells Mirror employees: “This is to me the most difficult, heart-rending statement I have ever had to make. The Mirror was my dream — this paper was conceived by me. I believed in its reason for being. I had confidence in its ability to grow with the community and to mature as a successful metropolitan paper.”

“Unfortunately, the economics have proved to be such that my original concept has not worked out.”

Randolph A. Hearst, president of Hearst Publishing Col, says: “The conditions which force the Examiner to cease publication are the same conditions that have resulted in the demise of many other well-known newspapers throughout the country. Costs have risen far more rapidly than revenue. Continuing losses, with no foreseeable change in the trend, make discontinuance of the Examiner an economic necessity.”

Rep. Emanuel Celler (D-New York), head of the House Judiciary Committee, says “a city of 2 1/2 million people with a metropolitan area of almost 7 million will become a two-newspaper town.”

Discussing the consolidation of newspapers, Celler says: “This trend bodes ill for our much-vaunted freedom of speech and press and shackles such freedom. In many instances, both sides of the problems are never presented and the news as well as the editorials often become slanted. This must be forfended.”

The late Marty Rossman, who worked at The Times in 1962, told me: “The blood ran on the floor that day.” Some of the Mirror’s high-profile columnists and writers (Paul Coates, Matt Weinstock and Paul Weeks, for example) moved to The Times. Others were not so fortunate. The late Bill Kershaw, a slot when I started at The Times, lost his job and went to the Herald Examiner before rejoining The Times. The late Jerry Clark, a former Mirror employee, once said he asked Otis Chandler who decided to kill the Mirror. Otis replied: “I did. Next question.”

For people too young to recall afternoon papers or understand their function, here’s a brief explanation: The morning papers (or AMers) tended to be a straightforward reporting of the news of the day, and for much of the 20th century, there were multiple editions per day for home delivery, closing stock market figures, racing results, street sales, etc. The afternoon papers (or PMers) tended to be updates of breaking news stories, with more sensational treatment, stock market figures, racing results, features, serialized novels (a specialty of the Herald-Express) and that sort of thing.

As American lifestyles changed after World War II and into the 1960s, more people were getting their news from television, cutting into the circulation of afternoon papers until they slowly faded away.

The Examiner’s circulation was 381,037 daily; 693,773 Sunday. The Herald-Express’ circulation was 393, 215. I’ll have to do some digging to find the Times’ and Mirror’s circulation figures. The Herald Examiner folded in 1989 and many employees joined The Times.

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Jan. 6, 1962, Mirror Folds

Jan. 6, 1962, Examiner Folds

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
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13 Responses to Examiner, Mirror Fold; L.A. Becomes Two-Newspaper Town

  1. Eve says:

    Aw. I grew up in Philadelphia, where “nearly everyone reads the Bulletin!” Till it went out of business in the early ’80s. My parents stopped getting a paper, as they just did not like the Inquirer.

  2. Dick Morris says:

    Sigh. That means it’s been 50 years since my tenure as a paper boy for the Examiner ended. In my area the morning Examiner and evening Herald Express customers all became customers of the evening Herald Examiner. The delivery area for each route shrunk so that all the paper boys still had a route but it was about half the size as before. Some people took both the Examiner and Herald Express and Hearst offered a discount when you took both the morning and afternoon paper. At the merger the total number of papers delivered dropped immediately because of the dual subscribers. I lost more customers when the former subscribers of the morning paper weren’t willing to wait until the afternoon for their news.

  3. Robert Dudnick says:

    A correction about Bill Kershaw: He didn’t lose his job in the merger. Bill was slotman on the Examiner and was picked up by the Herald-Examiner, where he worked the rim and filled in on the slot. He went to the Times when the Herex was struck in December 1967.

    • lmharnisch says:

      @Robert: How neat that you knew him! Kershaw told me he worked at the Mirror, which he called “a racy little sheet.” Were you at his funeral?

      • Robert Dudnick says:

        Hi, Larry! I wasn’t at Bill’s funeral; I didn’t know he had died until I read your post. When did he pass?

        I met Bill when I was a copyboy at the Examiner in 1960. He took an interest in my progress. I was at the Valley News & Green Sheet (not one of your favorite blats) when the Ex and Mirror folded in 1962. I went to the Ex newsroom that night–I think it was a Wednesday–and some us were standing right in the middle of Broadway around midnight or so. Bill looked up at the lights in the corner offices and said, “They’re deciding who goes to the Herald.”

        Bill told me he started on the Citizen-News. I assumed he went from there to the Ex. But I guess me must have stopped off at the Mirror on his way to 1111 S. Broadway. He did gt on the Herald-Examiner in 1962. I returned to the Herex later that year, working the lobster rim, so I didn’t see much of Bill, but he was there.

        Thanks for the coverage. Oh, by the way, Times circulation at the time was 548,702 daily; the Mirror’s was 301,882. (Source: Time, Jan. 12, 1962). I don’t know the Times’ Sunday circ.

        Robert

      • lmharnisch says:

        @Robert: Yes, Bill died shortly after he retired. He was living alone and didn’t show up for lunch with one of his friends. He didn’t want to be buried in Inglewood, where his parents are, so he was buried way up in some place like Sylmar or Sunland-Tujunga. As you know, Bill was extremely self-conscious about stuttering, so I didn’t get to know him too well. He never joined us at dinner, for example, but always sat by himself.

        He never drove his car when it rained, but always took a cab. He had one guy he always used, who called up late on rainy nights and asked for “KERSHAW!” When Bill retired, he didn’t tell the cabdriver, so the first rainy night, the guy called and we had to tell him.

  4. Robert Dudnick says:

    Larry: Sylmar or Sunland-Tujunga, huh? That’s the first place Bill’s stayed that wasn’t within one block of Hollywood Blvd.

    The Herex was the fastest place I ever worked–eight editions a day.* In those days, Bill didn’t have a car and rode buses everywhere. He came in one time when I had graduated to days and said, “My God, I couldn’t see straight when I got off yesterday. I had to go somewhere, so I got on the bus and asked the driver, ‘Where do I catch a bus slugged Pasadena?””

    __________________
    *Latest News (off desk 7 a.m.), first Night Final, second Night Final, third Night Final, first 8-Star, second 8-Star, Sunset, Starlight (press start 4 p.m.) It was the PMers that had all the sports, stox, etc. editions. (We even had the “tin jockey,” where a pressman would chisel an X beside the winning horse in a form on a page that was already in plate.) The Examiner had the Peach (5 p.m. press), City Lift (5:45), Red Line, Home, Sunrise. When I was at the Times, all I remember is the reg, makeover (home) and final.

    I’ve kept you up too long after my bedtime, but what year did Bill die? I’ve been gone from LA for a long time. Tnx.

  5. Jonathan King says:

    I remember that day, even though I was not yet 12. I read the Mirror-News every day after coming home from Mar Vista Elementary … okay, mostly for Nancy and Gordo (as I recall the highlights), but I also remember reading about Sputnik, the Dodgers, and the JFK inauguration in that paper. I couldn’t find anything I liked in the Times, so didn’t read the newspaper anymore … for a couple of years, anyway.

  6. No discussion of Mr. Kershaw’s times at The Times could be complete without a mention of the UCLA Bruins (loved them and hated when they lost) and his role in our Saturday night runs to Philippe’s. He only wanted a cheese sandwich which we got for him regularly and named with pride “The Kershaw.” One of those interesting characters who newspaper movies and TV shows always try to capture but fail. And a very good slot — I learned a lot from him.

  7. keystrokelotteries says:

    Don’t forget that other front-page staple of those afternoon editions: car-crash pictures.

    I also remember hearing (from one who was there, but on the Times side) how the Mirror firings were handled: management called out a name one by one, and the now ex-employee had to walk his last mile like a perp. “Cruel,” was the word used. One of those fired, being handicapped, moved slowly and with great difficulty. He had to make his round trip from some far point in the back of the office — like a warped version of Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy) struggling to the podium during the silently watching nominating convention, in “Sunrise at Campobello”.

    Robert, I’d heard the term ‘lobster shift’ but not ‘lobster rim’. I finally found the answer @Google: “you don’t say, our vanishing heritage”.

  8. John O'Dowd says:

    I would like to know if the Los Angeles Mirror photo archives still exist anywhere? I am working on a photo book on Barbara Payton’s life and career, and I would like to include several photos of her in the book that originally appeared in The Mirror. If anyone has any information about this, I would really appreciate it. Thank you.
    John O’Dowd
    jod6cindy@aol.com

    • lmharnisch says:

      The Times absorbed the Daily Mirror photos when the publication folded in 1962. Some of the photos were incorporated into The Times collection. Years later, The Times donated a significant number of photos and negatives to UCLA Special Collections. That’s where I would start looking.

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