Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Otis Chandler

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Otis Chandler

Article excerpt

Otis Chandler Born: 1928

Career Highlights: Grandson of Los Angeles Times titan Harry Chandler, and son of Norman (and Dorothy) Chandler, he became publisher of the paper in 1960, serving until 1980.

In 1975, when I had been editor of the Los Angeles Times for four years, Otis Chandler and I were returning to our hotel in Madrid after an early-morning meeting with Spanish officials when he said, out of the blue: "Bill, I've got to leave as publisher in five years to become chairman of the board, and there is a lot of planning to do."

It was hot and early and I was tired after about three hours sleep, so I said: "Geez, Otis, do we have to talk about it now?" This business about switching chairs was news to me and, anyway, it was five years away.

"OK," he said, "but we're going to talk about it as soon as we get home."

We did talk about it, and I got a good look at the way his mind works. He used those five years to canvass the field for his replacement, then to carefully create a position, and plenty of time for the heir apparent to prove himself. Only then was Tom Johnson named publisher. He would serve as publisher of the Times for almost 10 years, during which the newspaper flourished both editorially and financially, before leaving to head the CNN operation. So Chandler's careful methods and redoubtable long- range planning paid off, as they often did in the Times' climb to respectability.

It was a long way from the late 1950s when the Times was named by a leading national magazine one of the 10 worst newspapers in America. By 1980, when Otis Chandler left as publisher, the Times was widely recognized as one of the three best. …

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