Long before Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan took the center stage with their personal struggles and over-the-top outbursts and eccentricities, our afternoon was not complete without a copy of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Treading on the salacious and sometimes overly controversial issues, the LA Herald-Examiner will always be remembered for its capacity to chronicle the LA character like no other.
The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner is the flagship brand of the equally controversial and loquacious newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. It was born out of the presidential ambitions of Hearst, as he believed then that he could never survive the rigors of the presidential campaign trail of Southern California without supplanting a “clone” of his San Francisco Examiner. And it is for this main reason why Hearst started the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in 1903. It was the result of the merger of between Los Angeles Examiner and the Los Angeles Herald-Express. The merger was seen as the formal union of what was deemed to be a foregone conclusion as both newspapers had already been using the same workstation for decades.
Starting out as an avowed union advocate opposite the Los Angeles Times of the Chandler family, the Examiner inexorably took the right of center, and it voiced out its position to support the detainment and deportation of Mexican-Americans during the 30s. This same position was also taken by the Herald on Japanese-Americans at the height of World War II. Just like with the other major publications of Hearst, the Examiner thrived on salacious gossips and controversies. This had been the strongest medium for Louella Parsons, the eminent gossip columnist. Parsons had always been the nemesis of artists who were known for their “twisted” behavior and misadventures.
It was the Examiner that brought the murder of Elizabeth Short out in the open and the Black Dahlia hugged the headlines for several months. In fact, the Examiner was actually part of the news as it was through the suggestion to the LA Police by Warden Woolard, the paper’s Assistant Editor, to send the lifted fingerprints to the FBI that finally uncovered Short’s identity.
Having a larger-than-life owner and a penchant for editorial theatrics, the paper would naturally require a space that was suitable to its image. And this is the main reason why the Herald-Examiner had the southwest corner of Broadway and 11th as its headquarters. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner building was about a mile away from the office of the Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner commissioned architect Julia Morgan for the architectural design of its building. Best known for her design projects during that time, which included the Berkeley Campus of the University of California, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner building was actually Morgan’s first project in Southern California.
Jim Bellows was the associate editor of Los Angeles Herald-Examiner from 1978 to 1981. Prior to his stint with LA Herald-Examiner, Bellows served as editor of the New York Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and Washington Star. After his stint at the Herald-Examiner, he became Entertainment Tonight’s managing editor, ABC News’ executive editor and occupied several important positions at Los Angeles Daily News, Prodigy, USA Today on TV, amongst others.
After the ill-advised decision to shift to an afternoon publication and a series of mergers, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner gave up a significant share of the LA newspaper subscribers to Los Angeles Times. In 1989, it succumbed to mounting pressure and the presses of Los Angeles Herald-Examiners stopped running for good.