Otis Chandler, Former Head Of Times-Mirror, Dead At 78
His greatest achievement was to craft such a strong, independent newspaper on the West Coast after years of partisan mediocrity.
The tragedy was that due largely to rivalries within the Chandler family, he could not maintain control of the paper. It gradually slipped from his grasp and fell finally into the wrong hands, the lackluster Tribune Co. of Chicago.
Los Angeles being a great city and California remaining the most populous and prosperous state, this is hopefully not a situation that will last. We can still look forward, when the paper is sold once again, for it to recover the greatness that Chandler gave it.
The essence of Chandler's success was that he realized the L.A. Times had to have independent political and foreign coverage, with strong bureaus in Washington, other American and foreign cities, in order to make its mark, and he was successful at giving the paper the wherewithal to accomplish this.
Like his distinguished, if partisan, father, mother, grandfather and great-grandfather, Chandler worked hard and with dedication to develop the Times as a quality product. He had the assistance particularly of two distinguished editors, Nick Williams and Bill Thomas.
No shrinking violet, Chandler also sought to become more politically respectable than his forebears. He fought, though not always effectively, such political scoundrels as Mayor Sam Yorty who would have held the city back, and, to his credit, he believed in a tolerant policy that allowed all the city's vibrant ethnic groups to prosper in potential equality.
Chandler was a major figure, as were his forebears, in building Los Angeles as one of the major cities of the nation and the world.
Later, when family division and occasional personal mistakes cast a shadow on some of his accomplishments and caused trouble for the paper, with the eventual accession of Mark Willes as CEO of Times-Mirror, it was to Chandler's great credit that he came back out of the shadows to try to keep the Times on an even keel.
For this reason, he commanded the love and respect of much of the Times' staff, even though he had lost the authority that would have permitted him to become leader of the recovery.
It was a further tragedy in Chandler's life that his son, Norman, who might in time have developed into a great publisher, fell to a fatal brain tumor, had to leave work and finally succumbed a few years ago at the age of only 49. The situation at the paper might have developed differently had Norman remained healthy.
Still, Chandler remained a formidable personality. It is for his aspirations and honest strivings for greatness that he will be fondly remembered.