Thesis

A history of the L.A. Weekly, 1978-1986

In the late 1970s, a new journalism evolved in many of America's cities. It was regionally focused, politically liberal and entertainment-oriented. It sought to combine the critical, humanistic views of the 1960s with the consumer and New Age orientation of the 1980s. It wasn't underground - it was alternative. The L.A. Weekly began as such a paper in 1978 but metamorphosed within several years in to a paper with strong left:-wing political views and sound coverage of the avant garde arts. Many of its founders were counterculture liberals who had worked for the seminal underground paper, the Los Angeles Free Press. Other were younger writers whose progressive sensibilities embraced Nee-Expressionist art and punk rock with the same fervor that they opposed U.S. intervention in Central America and the policies of the Reagan Administration. This led to a creative ferment that was irreverent, provocative and liberal. It mixed the Old Left with the New Age in a heady and often schizophrenic blend. This thesis is a history of the L.A. Weekly. It traces the events that led up to the paper's founding, describes its early years and charts the weekly's change from a culturally oriented publication to one that regularly published loc,l and international political stories from a left-wing, liberal slant. Particular attention was paid to changes in political and cultural coverage over the years, individuals who exerted a strong influence on the paper and the phenomenal growth in advertising, circulation and size. The researcher used a historical method that combined reading of back issues with interviews plus a review of court, business and internal documents.The importance of this thesis is that it showed how the Weekly covered issues that the mainstream press either ignored or wrote about from a more conservative viewpoint. Throughout its history, the L.A. Weekly provided Los Angeles with a truly alternative vision of the city as well as the larger world.

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