The Daily Breeze is a print and digital news media company based in Torrance, California. Its coverage area includes the South Bay and Harbor Area cities of Los Angeles County “from LAX to LA Harbor,” including the communities of Carson, El Segundo, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Lawndale, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, San Pedro, Torrance, and Wilmington. The Daily Breeze is a member of the Southern California News Group (formerly the Los Angeles News Group), a division of Digital First Media.
Established in 1894, the Daily Breeze is best known for its coverage of local news. In 2015 the Daily Breeze won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for its coverage of a financial scandal in the Centinela Valley Union High School District. The paper had earlier won a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for the same investigation and also won the National Headliner Award. Another investigative series, , examines the scope of unsolved homicides in Los Angeles County.
The paper was founded as the weekly The Breeze in 1894 by local political activist S.D. Barkley and first served the local Redondo Beach community. When "Doc" Barkley, also a former druggist, announced to his friends in Redondo Beach one night in 1894 that he was planning to start a newspaper, he reportedly said, "I'm going to start a newspaper in this town tomorrow and call it the Breeze, because the breeze always blows here."
Barkley opened his newspaper office at 116 North Pacific Avenue in a wooden building he shared with Nick's Bootery, and the four-page tabloid paper began to appear once a week on Saturday. Prohibition was the hot-button issue of the day in Redondo Beach. Barkley jumped right into the battle, aligning himself with the four saloonkeepers in town who were leading The Wets. The Drys were out to close the saloons, and were represented by local ministers and their followers who were opposed to alcohol consumption.
The much-debated issue finally came to a couple of heated votes in 1910. Redondo Beach voters sided with the Breeze and its Wet brethren in both cases, and the saloons stayed open. Barkley's newspaper venture began to grow more successful as the area began to develop. He was an active Chamber of Commerce member, and the pages of the Breeze in its early days are filled with civic boosterism and upbeat local news involving the area's growing population and thriving real estate activities. Coverage eventually spread to other coastal cities.
In 1912, the Breeze began covering news in Manhattan Beach (population: 75) and Hermosa Beach (population: 685). Barkley sold the Breeze in 1913; he later became postmaster of Redondo Beach. Chamber of Commerce secretary George Murphy became the paper's new owner. It was rumored that he was merely a front man for the ambitious politician Harry Brolaski, who led an unsuccessful attempt to develop a harbor at Redondo Beach to rival San Pedro. In any case, the Breeze was sold again in late 1915 to Frank L. Perry, son of a railroad executive. He owned the paper for just nine months before selling it in 1916 to George Orgibet, a newspaperman from Chicago. "I was no newspaperman and was rather glad to get it off my hands," said Perry later.
In 1918, the circulation of the Breeze was "631 paid copies." A subscription cost $1.50 a year.
When Orgibet heard that newspaper publisher F.W. Kellogg was looking to start up an operation in Redondo Beach, he immediately tracked him down and sold him the Breeze in the late fall of 1922. Kellogg made several changes. He moved the Breeze to the basement of the Bank of America building at 105 Wall Street, which also fronted on 131 Pacific Avenue, and he quickly transformed the weekly into a daily paper (except Sunday) as of the Monday, December 18, 1922 edition.
The paper thrived under Kellogg's ownership during the 1920s as Redondo Beach continued its growth. Circulation as of December 6, 1927 reached 2,951.
The Copley Era
In 1928, the Daily Breeze was purchased by Copley Press. In fact, Colonel Ira C. Copley bought several Los Angeles County newspapers in January 1928 to go along with his Illinois newspaper holdings. The newspapers in the two states would form the basis for what eventually would become The Copley Press. Transfer of ownership of the Breeze from Kellogg to Copley become official on September 1, 1928. The Copley organization would own the Breeze for the next 78 years.
Copley saw the possibilities of increased revenue from including other cities in the South Bay area into its coverage instead of concentrating primarily on Redondo Beach, and changed the paper's masthead accordingly from Redondo Daily Breeze to South Bay Daily Breeze in 1930.
When the Bank of America moved out of the building, everyone in the basement except the composing room and the press moved upstairs as of February 18, 1935. The costly move was made in the midst of the Depression, showing that Copley had faith in the area's economic potential even in hard times.
World War II brought an influx of defense plant workers and their families to the South Bay. Major industrial plants such as Union Tool Co. and US Steel (originally the Llewellyn Iron Works) had been operating in nearby Torrance for a couple of decades. The aerospace industry that would dominate the South Bay for decades had its roots in war defense plants that were built all over Southern California. Redondo's early reputation as a tourist mecca began to fade as its role as an aerospace employer began to expand.
The Breeze continued to grow in circulation along with the South Bay's economic boom. It became a seven-day-a-week paper when the Sunday edition began on May 31, 1959. The paper's growth led to a search for larger quarters, which landed on a lot in West Torrance. Construction began on the new building, with presses and production facilities starting operations there in 1961. To commemorate the occasion, actress Jayne Mansfield had her picture taken with an appreciative production crew.
The old Redondo Beach building, and, in fact, the entire part of town where it was located, was torn down in the 1960s to make way for the construction of King Harbor. The rest of the Breeze staff gradually moved to the new building at 5215 Torrance Boulevard, which was dedicated in January 1965. The paper continued its transition from a local paper covering the beach cities to a regional paper whose circulation area took in more than a dozen cities in Southwest Los Angeles County.
Circulation did not reach 10,000 until 1951; by 1969, it had passed 56,000, with growth continuing throughout the 1970s. The competition went out of business in 1970 [TheTorrance Herald, 1913-1969].
In August 1982, The Breeze began using its presses to publish the national edition of The New York Times, an arrangement that continued until December 2004. In 1983, Copley Los Angeles Newspapers added the Santa Monica Evening Outlook to its roster, signing the agreement to purchase it from the Funk family on March 29, 1983.
After years as primarily an afternoon paper, the Breeze changed over to a morning paper Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1995. With changes in the business climate that included the diminishing role of the aerospace industry in the local economy, it became necessary to cease publication of both the Outlook and longtime Copley property the San Pedro News-Pilot in 1998. The Breeze began offering the weekly More San Pedro publication in 2003 until its closure in 2008. In 2005, it added to its circulation numbers through the purchase of two local weeklies, the Beach Reporter and Palos Verdes Peninsula News. In 2003, it created another weekly, More San Pedro, in the Harbor Area.
Another major change occurred in 2005, when the giant presses in the Breeze building ran for the final time on Sunday, April 5, as the Breeze shifted its print operations off-site to Southwest Offset Printing in Gardena.
As Copley's tenure as owner of the Breeze began to wane, the decision was made to sell the Torrance Boulevard property and eventually lease office space in another Torrance location. Little Company of Mary Hospital purchased the property in April 2007 and announced plans to build medical office buildings on the site. In the meantime, film crews used the building for location shooting, first for the film "Pineapple Express" and for the Disney XD Channel television series "Zeke & Luther."
Copley sold the Breeze itself on Dec. 15, 2006 to MediaNews Group, Inc. in partnership with the Hearst Corporation, and the Breeze began working together with fellow MediaNews papers the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the L.A. Daily News in Woodland Hills—the result of a complex transaction that left the paper under the day-to-day control of Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group and its subsidiary, the Los Angeles Newspaper Group (LANG).
Singleton announced that he would fold the paper into the LANG operations, but not cut salaries. Singleton will eventually come to own the Daily Breeze under a 2007 plan to acquire ownership of the paper as part of a swap with Hearst in which Hearst would trade some California papers and the St. Paul Pioneer Press for an increased stake in Singleton's non-California operations.
In 2008, the paper ceased producing its weekly supplement, More San Pedro. Nine staff members were laid off at the same time including four reporters, a web editor, and a news room assistant.
After a careful search process, a lease was finalized in August 2008 for the Daily Breeze's new site, which is on the ground floor of the South Bay Tower at 21250 Hawthorne Boulevard, Suite 170, right in the heart of Torrance. The move was completed on Jan. 31, 2009.
Today, LANG includes nine daily newspapers and a number of weeklies, including the Hermosa Beach-based Beach Reporter and the Palos Verdes Peninsula News.
In 2011, the Breeze became part of Digital First Media which was formed through the eventual merger of the Media News Group and the Journal Register Company. DFM offers news reporting and third party advertising and directory opportunities through its more than 800 multiplatform products which include web, mobile, tablet, social media and print.
In 2012, LANG was reorganized under common business and editorial management. Michael A. Anastasi, formerly of the MediaNews Group-owned Salt Lake Tribune, was named vice president and executive editor. Ron Hasse, a veteran Los Angeles media executive, was named publisher and president in 2013.
In 2015 the Daily Breeze won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for its coverage of a financial scandal in the Centinela Valley Union High School District, which prompted a federal investigation into the corruption. City Editor Frank Suraci and reporters Rob Kuznia and Rebecca Kimitch were the principle journalists involved in the coverage, one of many journalism projects under Anastasi focused on accountability, or watchdog, reporting.
Much of this historical information was taken from the Daily Breeze's About Us section.
Controversial issues to do with the paper
With the advent of the Depression, small-time gambling began to flourish in Redondo Beach on El Paseo Street, which bordered the waterfront. Bingo and "tango" parlors sprung up, sometimes as fronts for higher-stakes games behind closed doors. This unsavory activity, combined with the offshore wagering going down on Tony Carnero's gambling ship The Rex, alarmed civic leaders. The Junior Chamber of Commerce sought help from the Breeze in its drive to eliminate all gambling from Redondo Beach. It gradually succeeding in doing so in 1940, partially by showing links the gambling establishments had with notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel.
This information was taken from the Daily Breeze's About Us section.
- 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for the
- 2015 Scripps Howard Award for Community Journalism for the Centinela Valley Investigation
- 2015 Southern California Journalist of the Year: Frank Suraci
- 2015 National Headliner Award for Investigative Journalism
- 2015 CNPA awards for investigative and education reporting
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