Black Dahlia Revisited

Jan. 16, 1947, Examiner Cover

I need to make a few points about the coverage of the Black Dahlia case before I move on. The killing and the subsequent investigation are incredibly complicated and the false claims, ridiculous "true crime" books and crackpot websites have only muddied the waters even further. So I'll keep this brief.

The Los Angeles Examiner was Hearst's morning competition to the Los Angeles Times. Hearst's afternoon paper was the Herald-Express, created in the early 1930s in the merger of the Herald and the Express. There was also the Daily News (not related to the current Daily News of Los Angeles), which was founded in the 1920s. 

After World War II, The Times acquired the Daily News and incorporated it into the Mirror, which became the Mirror-News, an afternoon paper competing with the Herald-Express. The Mirror (where I got the name for the blog) was intended to be a more sensational counterpart to the staid, traditional Los Angeles Times.

In 1962, The Times folded the Mirror-News and Hearst folded the Examiner, leaving The Times as Los Angeles' sole morning paper and the new Herald Examiner as the sole evening paper. (Of course the region had many other suburban papers–but I'm keeping this simple). Because the names Herald-Express and Herald Examiner are similar, many people, especially younger folks who don't remember the Examiner,  confuse the two.

Paul Cardinal writes:

"I am a 73-year-old who was about age 10 when the Black Dahlia murder
happened. The actual name of the paper then which was an afternoon
paper was, the "Herald Express." What most people today would not
believe, is, when the Dahlia murder happened, initially, the Herald
actually had front page photos of Elizabeth Short's Torso and Morgue
photos. Yes, they actually did that in 1946 or 47.
The morning delivered Times nor the Examiner would never have anything
to do with printing those photos and of course the Herald in their eyes
printed them to boost circulation.
I don't make this stuff up.
The former Examiner Reporter either wasn't around at that time or
doesn't have much of a memory."

As Vincent Bugliosi says: "The palest ink is better than the best memory." Actually, the Examiner ran a Page 1 photo of Elizabeth Short's body with a blanket painted over it, shown above. The Herald Express and the Daily News followed with heavily retouched morgue shots on Page 1 in an attempt to identify her.

The Times, in one of its most questionable news decisions, ran the story inside every day with one exception: The arrest of Joseph Dumais as a suspect.

Here's more on the early history of Los Angeles' newspapers, from 1932.

Sept. 4, 1932, Newspapers

Sept. 4, 1932, Newspapers

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in #courts, @news, Front Pages, Homicide, LAPD. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Black Dahlia Revisited

  1. Jeff Prescott says:

    And don’t forget, we’re just about a month away (Nov.2) from the 20-year date of the death of the Herald-Examiner…….!
    The Mirror ended on Friday, January 5, 1962…..
    The Herald-Express on Sat., January 6, 1962
    The Examiner on Sunday, January 7, 1962.
    The new Herald Examiner began on Monday, January 8, 1962…with a cool Karl Hubenthal drawing on the front page of all editions, except the first edition.
    In the first edition, it was on the editorial page……..


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