Scott Schmidt, 66; Publisher Transformed L.A. Daily News From Shopper to Newspaper

From Associated Press

Scott Schmidt, a top editor at two Chicago dailies and the publisher who transformed the Daily News of Los Angeles from a suburban shopper into a metropolitan newspaper, has died. He was 66.

Schmidt died at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at his Westlake Village home of apparent heart failure, said his son, John, of Rancho Palos Verdes. He had not had any recent health problems, his son said.

“He lived and breathed the newspaper business,” John Schmidt said. “Every morning when I woke, there were at least six newspapers on our driveway. He was always looking at the competition.”


Schmidt was born in 1937 in Pekin, Ill., where his father was a foreman at a flour mill. He began delivering papers as a boy and by the time he was 14 had become a sportswriter for the Pekin Star, covering local games and Bradley University in neighboring Peoria, his son said. He became the paper’s sports editor at 16.

He took journalism at Bradley while working full time as a newspaperman and later went to Northwestern University but never graduated, his son said.

At the time, he was a married father working full time as night managing editor of the Chicago Herald American, which became Chicago Today, the afternoon paper of the Tribune Co. He was managing editor of that paper from 1971 to 1974.

When it folded, he went to the Tribune for about a year as managing editor.

The Tribune Co. bought the Valley News and Green Sheet in suburban Los Angeles and sent Schmidt to turn it from a giveaway shopper into the Daily News.

“He fashioned a newspaper that has grown into the true voice of the San Fernando Valley,” said David Fleming, chairman of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley.

Schmidt was publisher of the newspaper from 1975 to 1983, then returned to Chicago and became an executive for the Chicago Tribune for several years. Tribune Co. later sold the Daily News.

Later, he returned to Los Angeles, where he bought and published the Apparel News, an industry newspaper, and then a national college newspaper called The National U.

He also served as group publisher for the San Gabriel Valley Newspapers, now operated by the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Before retiring last year, Schmidt worked for a San Fernando Valley media company that specializes in information technology and publishes dozens of trade magazines and Internet newsletters. In addition to John, Schmidt is survived by his wife, Janice; son Christopher of Redondo Beach; daughter Julie Stauber of Manhattan Beach; sister Phyllis McCabe of Pekin, Ill.; and seven grandchildren.

Public services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Monica’s Roman Catholic Church in Santa Monica, his son said.