Larry Pryor, former Instances journalist and USC professor, dies at 86


Larry Pryor, a former Los Angeles Instances journalist who embraced the digital world earlier than a lot of the business and whose work as a reporter and editor masking the surroundings spurred motion on local weather points, died on July 13 of problems from Parkinson’s illness. He was 86.

Pryor, who was additionally a novelist and sang choir all through his life together with his spouse, Gabrielle, began his journalism profession on the Louisville Courier Journal in Kentucky earlier than relocating to Southern California in 1968 to work in The Instances’ Orange County version, in keeping with his son, Ben Pryor.

“He was completely dedicated to journalism. He was completely dedicated to the values that journalism represents,” Ben Pryor mentioned. “And was that solution to the very finish.”

He lined a mixture of state and native politics and environmental points, ultimately becoming a member of The Instances in its predominant downtown Los Angeles workplace. He was alert to the methods local weather would form California, submitting tales about nuclear energy and documenting the consequences of drilling on the Southern California coast and the risk communities confronted from environmental exploitation.

A sequence of tales he wrote in 1977 in regards to the failure to appropriately assess the chance of establishing storage tanks for liquefied petroleum gasoline in a densely populated space caught the eye of Gov. Jerry Brown, who ordered a report that in the end really useful a sequence of security and regulatory steps, in keeping with Ben Pryor.

When Brown sought the presidency two years later, Pryor left The Instances to function Brown’s press secretary till the previous governor fell out of competition for the Democratic nomination.

Pryor labored as a analysis marketing consultant and novelist, publishing “The Viper,” a spy story involving financiers from Saudi Arabia and Components One racing, earlier than returning to The Instances within the Eighties. In his second stint on the paper, he labored as an editor and duplicate editor and was a member of The Instances’ staff that gained a 1993 Pulitzer Prize for protection of the Los Angeles riots.

Colleagues remembered Pryor as a collaborative one that helped form the early days of surroundings protection. Bob Rawitch, who labored at The Instances from 1968 to ’95 and was the chief editor of the Valley and Ventura editions, labored with Pryor on an award-winning story in regards to the California Public Utilities Fee and then-Gov. Ronald Reagan’s affect over it.

“He was a dream to work with,” Rawitch mentioned. “There was by no means a cross phrase, by no means an objection. I’d write a portion and he would write a portion, then we’d each undergo it collectively and polish what the opposite wrote.”

At The Instances, Pryor was an early proponent of adapting to altering expertise, encouraging reporters to make use of instruments corresponding to geomapping, or utilizing information to create maps, mentioned Jeff Perlman, who labored for The Instances for greater than three a long time.

“He was completely satisfied that digital journalism was the long run,” Perlman mentioned, including that Pryor needed to discuss with the tales that appeared on The Instances’ web site because the “database,” which by no means fairly caught on.

Pryor was additionally one of many paper’s first journalists to supply work by means of an early type of digital journalism known as teletext, mentioned Joe Saltzman, a longtime buddy and a USC journalism professor.

However Saltzman mentioned The Instances didn’t see Pryor’s imaginative and prescient on the time and declined to speculate more cash within the technological effort.

“He was creating one thing no one understood, which was the beginnings of the web and digital journalism,” Saltzman mentioned. “He was means forward.”

Saltzman and Pryor met as college students on the Columbia Graduate College of Journalism, the place they graduated in 1962. Pryor stood in distinction to different college students in this system, who may very well be vicious and aggressive.

“Larry was nothing like that,” Saltzman mentioned. “He was a candy, light, type, hardworking, very critical journalism pupil. However only a good man.”

Pryor left The Tmes in 1999 for a full-time appointment instructing journalism at USC, the place he had taught half time since 1985 as an adjunct college member within the Annenberg College for Communication and Journalism.

At USC, he gained a grant to begin the On-line Journalism Overview, which supplied reporting and commentary on adjustments to media. He additionally taught the varsity’s first on-line journalism courses and designed curriculum to maintain up with technological advances, mentioned Gordon Stables, director of journalism at Annenberg.

“He was a kind of progressive college who began doing this work early,” Stables mentioned. “This was actually difficult work.”

Pryor retired from USC in 2016 to take care of his spouse, who has Alzheimer’s illness.

To his sons, Pryor was a font of data, sharing with them his love for Components One racing and exposing them at an early age to philosophical works and novels.

“His entire factor, if nothing else, is only a fixed curiosity in issues, whether or not it’s the ecology of his yard or political philosophy or the machinations of the politicians in Orange County and L.A.,” Ben Pryor mentioned. “He simply was fascinated by stuff.”

Rising up, Ben Pryor mentioned, he realized to not share his essays together with his dad the evening earlier than they had been due in school — the assignments all the time returned after a 10-minute enhancing session marked with crimson pencil his dad introduced house from the newsroom.

In his closing weeks, Pryor handed alongside reminders to his sons in regards to the significance of voting, very like he did throughout their childhood.

“He was all the time, all the time optimistic about the way forward for the nation and the way forward for his communities,” Ben Pryor mentioned.

Together with Ben, Pryor is survived by his spouse, Gabrielle, and one other son, William.


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