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The night The Times printed the Herald Examiner

The night The Times printed the Herald Examiner

Oct. 11, 1983: Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Los Angeles Times trucks share parking at Times Mirror Square after power outage forced the Herald Examiner to be printed on Times’ presses.

An article in the October  1983 Among Ourselves, the Los Angeles Times employee publication, reported:

Cooperation among newspapers during a time of emergency is a time-honored tradition–and one that surfaced once again Oct. 10 when a major power outage hit the southern part of downtown Los Angeles.

A fiery explosion in a Department of Water and Power substation left two of the city’s newspapers without power for almost 20 hours. The Herald Examiner and La Opinion, the Spanish-language daily, were faced with not being able to produce their editions of Oct. 11.

In stepped The Times, which had been unaffected by the outage.

By 10 p.m. on Oct. 10, the Herald knew it could not produce its Tuesday papers without help.

Ray Willis, Herald production manager, called Times Publisher Tom Johnson at home, asking if The Times could print the Herald’s Tuesday morning edition.

Johnson agreed to allow the Herald to not only use its presses, but also its newsroom and computers to write, edit and lay out its pages.

Johnson contacted operations Vice President Charlie Chase, Norman Chandler (production superintendent in charge at the time) and Managing Editor George Cotliar to alert them to the Herald’s needs.

Herald editors salvaged some type that had been set during the day, gathered some hastily written copy – many of their stories had been lost in their now-dead computers–and headed 11 blocks north to The Times.

Chandler hastily put the wheels in motion to allow the Herald to print.

About 126,000 copies of The Times were shifted to Orange County, easing the downtown press load. An area of the composing room was cleared to allow Herald production people to make up their 32-page Tuesday edition.

In the concourse, space for Herald’s trucks was made available.

In editorial, Times editors welcomed their Herald counterparts, giving them a crash course in setting stories in the news editing system.

The areas normally used by the national and foreign desks suddenly became the Herald’s “newsroom.”

The home edition of The Times went off on schedule and the morning final edition closed an hour early, allowing the Herald some extra press time.

But there was another paper in trouble. La Opinion was luckier, but still in a stew. It had an abbreviated 12-page edition already made up, but the outage had killed its plate-making and pressroom areas.

La Opinion’s production manager, Joe Stouwie, literally knocked at the door asking for help.

Again, The Times said yes.

La Opinion’s page boards were shot in plate-making, sent to the pressroom and a 63,000-copy press run was quickly completed.

The Herald, meanwhile, was using its own editorial and composing people to produce its slimmed-downed edition for a 257,000-copy press run.

Ted Weegar, assistant managing editor, said about 10 Times editors stayed on after their shifts to help Herald staffers. “It was just marvelous to see the cooperation among newspeople,” he said.

Chase, Will Davidson, composing/advertising services superintendent, and Bill Sperry, pressroom superintendent came in to help with the Times production team’s effort in getting the Herald printed.

And after hours of catch up, the Herald’s 32 pages were ready to go to plate-making, then to the pressroom, where Times crews were staying overtime to print the third newspaper of the day.

One crew that helped run the Herald had come in at 11 a.m. on Monday and didn’t leave until 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Herald rolled off The Times’ presses, on The Times paper and carrying The Times’ body and headline type. A banner across the front page said, “Many thanks to the L.A. Times for publishing today’s Herald.”…

Oct. 11, 1983: Los Angeles Times publisher Tom Johnson and Los Angeles Herald Examiner editor Mary Anne Dolan check out Herald Examiner’s front page during paste-up. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Oct. 11, 1983: Front page of the Oct. 11, 1983 Los Angeles Herald Examiner that was printed on The Times presses following major power outage. Credit: Los Angeles Times Archive photo.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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2 Comments

  1. July 8, 2014, 8:51 pm

    Wow Ed,
    Thanks for the great article. I was there on the other side of the wall receiving the newspapers via the Mailroom on that historic day. I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. I was told that we needed to print and store a large part of LA's press run. We stacked and stored the papers for the "LA edition" trucks coming down to get their draw. Great cooperation among companies and departments. The good old days. Thanks Tom Johnson and ALL included. Really felt like a team effort. Well coordinated. Everything was great pre-Tribune. Love every guy I ever worked with. Even you Craig ! Thanks Ed. Great article.
    - Steve Grant 1978-2009
    Orange County Transportation 1978-1984 (thanks Bill Scanlon)
    Orange County Pressroom / Olympic Pressroom 1984-2009 (roller crew (thanks Aggie) , press operator ( thanks Bill Widner).

    By: sgrantfamily@aol.com
  2. July 10, 2014, 10:42 am

    Good article Ed,I was there that night and remember a lady editor who was there on H-press crying as she was checking the paper as it came off the press.I guess she never thought the power outage at the Examiner would never happen.I also remember that Bill Sperry (night side pressroom shift supervisor) asked if the union label on the Examiner's front page could be deleted seeing the Times was not a union shop and upper-management agreed so it was deleted from the front page.
    Another piece of history of the Los Angeles Times.
    Thanjs Ed- Emmett Jaime

    By: ejaime3@msn.com

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