Photograph by Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times
Norman Chandler, left, during the luncheon to announce that his son, Otis, was the new publisher of The Times.
|April 12, 1960: Otis Chandler is named publisher of the Los Angeles Times. In a speech to more than 700 civic leaders at the Biltmore Bowl, Norman Chandler said: “Otis, as my successor and as my son, I say to you — you are assuming a sacred trust and grave responsibilities. I have the utmost confidence that you will never falter in fulfilling these obligations. This trust is dearer than life itself.”
In his speech, Otis Chandler replied: “I pledge to you to carry out the sound principles which have guided you. I will not let you down. It is with humility and gratitude that I accept.”
And in 1999, Otis Chandler echoed these words in his famous memo dictated to then-City Editor Bill Boyarsky during the Staples scandal: “When I think back through the history of this great newspaper I realize how fragile and irreplaceable public trust in a newspaper is. This public trust and faith in a newspaper by its employees, its readers, the community, is dearer to me than life itself.”
I never realized until now that he was referring to his father’s speech 39 years earlier; a speech that everyone else had probably forgotten – except him.
Read David Halberstam’s “The Powers That Be” for a fascinating history of the L.A. Times under Harrison Grey Otis and the Chandlers.
It is fascinating to read between the lines of this story.
The sense of future, growth and excitement is the under current of this story.
No one could know the growth and excellence that the Times was about to experience.
Also, the new publisher’s age (32) was carefully downplayed, but spoken only by his father, who obviously had bestowed all his trust in his only son (ironically, the last Chandler to serve as publisher).