Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ray Hebert Remembered As Conscientious, Modest

I'm just back from three days with the family in Yosemite Valley, where the weather last weekend was almost summer-like, and the waterfalls were full. The park remains, in my view, the greatest natural wonder of California. Six generations of my family have now visited Yosemite, and never once have any of them been disappointed. The Valley and the rest of the park are awe-inspiring. The park is a boost to everyone's spirits.

When I looked at my messages, there was one telling of the death at 86 of Ray Hebert, long an urban affairs writer for the Los Angeles Times, and a man who gave me friendly prodding on both the Olympic assignment and some of my early police brutality stories for the Times.

Hebert was a conscientious, careful reporter, with a dry sense of humor. He believed in getting things right, and he warned me on several occasions to be properly skeptical of what I was hearing from civic boosters of one kind or another.

He had some acquaintances in the Inland Empire, and when I first went to Indio and Blythe, on police brutality stories in the late 1960s at a time when the Times seldom went out of its way to cover such stories, he had contacts and friends whose names he passed along and who were of great assistance.

Later, Hebert wrote about 1984 Olympic plans for Olympic villages. He was skeptical about Bradley Administration promises not to build an Olympic village for the athletes, but, as it turned out, no village was built, and USC and UCLA were made into Olympic villages during the Games, saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ray retired to Carlsbad, but sometimes would turn up at reunions. He occasionally gave me encouragement even in his retired years. I remember him fondly and, like so many of his colleagues at the Times, will miss him. He was always a gentleman. (In answer to a question from an anonymous commentator on this blog, Hebert was white and did not cover the Century Plaza demonstration of 1967. He may have been involved in Watts coverage in 1965, but I'm not certain about that).


Mark Arax is being something of a hot head in his present dispute with Times managing editor Doug Frantz over Frantz's proper decision to kill an article he had written on the Armenian genocide.

I sometimes had the same fault, when an article was killed, building it into a big deal when ultimately it would blow over. Bill Boyarsky once gave me some good advice when he said he had had columns killed, and it was important to move on, and continue your work. The same advice should be given to Arax. He seems to want to humiliate Frantz for taking the decision he did. He ought to back off.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

was the late Ray Hebert African American? And did he cover the 1965 Watts riots or the 1967 police riot during an anti-war rally at Century City which the august LAT management whitewashed?

5/01/2007 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug Frantz owes Mark Arax and the other Armenian-American staff members an apology. Period.

5/01/2007 5:09 PM  

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