'Los Angeles Times' Editorial Board, Owner On 'Reckoning With Racism'

Letters published Sunday by the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board and owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong apologized for a “history of racism” at the newspaper and vowed to make its staff and coverage more diverse.

“On behalf of this institution, we apologize for The Times’ history of racism,” wrote the LA Times' editorial board. “We owe it to our readers to do better, and we vow to do so. A region as diverse and complex and fascinating as Southern California deserves a newspaper that reflects its communities.” 

Today, 38% of the journalists on the Times’ staff are people of color. 

“We know that is not nearly good enough,” they wrote.

Los Angeles County is 48% Latino, and Latinos are the largest ethnic group in California.

In July, the Los Angeles Times Guild’s Latino employees established a Latino Caucus, and demanded more coverage of their community and better representation of Latinos at the company. 

According to a letter addressed to the LATimes’ management, just 13% of the Los Angeles Times newsroom is Latino. 

The L.A. Times Guild’s Black Caucus sent a letter in June to the newspaper’s leadership outlining the lack of Black journalists in the newsroom and demanding change.

The editorial board’s letter published Sunday chronicled the newspaper's problematic history.

“For at least its first 80 years, the Los Angeles Times was an institution deeply rooted in white supremacy and committed to promoting the interests of the city’s industrialists and landowners,” they wrote.

Among other examples, the editorial board cited a 1981 headline, “Marauders From Inner City Prey on L.A.’s Suburbs.” 

The story “reinforced pernicious stereotypes that Black and Latino Angelenos were thieves, rapists and killers.”

The board touted the newspaper’s reporting on issues faced by communities of color, but noted it has also “often displayed at best a blind spot, at worst an outright hostility, for the city’s nonwhite population, one both rooted and reflected in a shortage of Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian and other people of color in its newsroom.”

In his letter, Soon-Shiong recognized the newspaper has “mirrored, and in some cases propagated, the biases and prejudices of the world it covers.”

“Today, we are beginning the process of acknowledging those biases of the past and taking positive action to affirm a commitment that our newsroom will not tolerate prejudice,” he wrote.

Soon-Shiong and his wife Michele are the first non-White owners of the LATimes.

He promised more articles will be published by LATimes’ reporters of color in the coming days examining the paper’s coverage of non-White communities.

A new hub was created on the LATimes website under its Opinion section, called "Our reckoning with racism," that houses these pieces.

The LATimes, Soon-Shiong added, is committed to hiring more reporters and editors of color, as well as retain, mentor and promote them.

“If we are to survive as a business, it will be by tapping into a digital, multicultural, multigenerational audience in a way The Times has never fully done,” the editorial board wrote.


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