Washington Press Club Foundation
Mónica Lozano:
Interview #1 (pp. 1-20)
December 13, 1993 in Los Angeles, California
Shirley Biagi, Interviewer

Go to Session Two | Session Three
Index | Cover | Home
Page 1

[Begin Tape 1, Side A]

Biagi: Let's start the story that you say is not typical. You must have been born, though. That's pretty typical.

Lozano: I was born July 21, 1956, in Los Angeles. I was the third in my family. I have an older sister and older brother.

Biagi: And your parents' full names?

Lozano: My dad's name is Ignacio Lozano, Jr. My mother's name is Marta.

Biagi: Her maiden name?

Lozano: Navarro. My dad was born in San Antonio, Texas, and my mother was born in Arizona. Both of them were of Mexican parents, so they're actually first generation born in this country, and we were second. My mom was born in Arizona as a twist of fate. Her dad had left Mexico, looking for work during the revolution, and was a ranch hand, the sort of a person who runs large ranches, and he ended up going to Arizona, then eventually ended up working for William Randolph Hearst at the Hearst ranch up in San Simeon.

On my father's side, my grandfather was a journalist, a famous, well-respected, well-known writer from Northern Mexico, who also left during the revolution, mostly because he was writing things against the government and was more sympathetic to the need for change in Mexico.

Biagi: Who was he?

Lozano: Ignacio Lozano. So my dad is junior. My dad is Ignacio E. Lozano, Jr.

Biagi: His father was also E.?

Lozano: Same middle name, Eugenio. So my dad's [a] junior. I didn't know my grandfather. He passed away before I was born, but he left Mexico and since he was from Northern Mexico on the border of Texas, he went just across to San Antonio, Texas. In 1913, he founded a daily newspaper in Spanish called La Prensa in San Antonio, Texas. It wasn't the first daily. There had already been a daily in Spanish publishing out of New York, but La Prensa became the largest. It quickly became the largest. What ended up happening, all of this again is just word-of-mouth stories that I've heard from people that had worked with him and had founded that paper, that newspapers, his in particular, was distributed via train. The train would come into San Antonio,

Page 1

Page 2

and they would load it up with copies of La Prensa, and it would be distributed nationally. It literally was selling in Chicago and selling in New York and selling in Los Angeles.

Towards the early twenties, La Prensa became so well read in L.A. that my grandfather came out here, looked at the market, said, "It's important for me to be doing something in Los Angeles," and founded La Opinión in 1926. So they literally had two daily newspapers going simultaneously for a number of years, both a Texas paper and La Opinión here in L.A.

Biagi: He was traveling back and forth?

Lozano: He was traveling back and forth, and eventually it was determined that L.A. was much more important, that the population was larger. The number of things that were going on in that period of time really required La Opinión to be the flagship paper.

Biagi: When you say "they" were running it, do you mean he and his mother?

Lozano: It was my grandmother [Alicia Elizondo de Lozano], his wife. Yes, my grandmother was definitely involved. She certainly became more involved when he passed away in the early 1950s, but he came with a number of friends, people who were the great writers of Mexico, who weren't allowed to write in Mexico at the time.

Biagi: Their names?

Lozano: A man named José Pages Llergo. Pages Llergo, when he left my grandfather and La Opinión, went back to Mexico and started a magazine called Siempre, which is one of these large formats, big Life-type magazine, which continues to publish and it's probably one of the most well-known, well-respected magazines in Mexico today. A couple of other people, a man named Garcia Naranjo. I could actually give you a list of people who had in the early years collaborated with my grandfather and published with La Opinión mostly because they weren't allowed to publish in Mexico.* In fact, my grandfather was an expatriate. He wasn't allowed to go back to Mexico because of his political writings, and ended up dying in this country, being buried in Texas, and it wasn't until the mid-1980s that his children were allowed to take his ashes back to be buried in Mexico.

La Opinión was born under the slogan "Diario Popular Independiente"—"Daily, Popular and Independent," or "Independent Daily of the People." This was a novel concept at the time. Mexican newspapers were traditionally neither of the people nor independent, and you can even argue that journalism in Mexico continues to be that way today, that it's elitist and very ideological, that newspapers pertain to particular parties or have particular currents of thought and perspective, and everybody knows that and everybody looks for their particular newspaper to reflect what they think society should be. My grandfather came specifically because it was important to have an objective press and a press that wasn't constrained by censorship and repression like most newspapers in Mexico were. So he was an admirable man, and I think in Mexican journalism certainly is one of the greats. That, for somebody who's publishing a newspaper outside of Mexico, is very important.

* Lozano adds: "Some early contributors to La Opinión are José Vasconcelos, Nemesio Garciá Naranjo, José Valadés, and Luis Cabrera."

Page 2

Page 3

Biagi: Yes. When he was publishing in San Antonio, here again the papers obviously found their way to Mexico, wouldn't you think?

Lozano: Absolutely, which is why he wasn't allowed back. It wasn't that he was publishing in Mexico stuff they didn't want; they didn't like what he was publishing up here in the United States. He found that it was the only place where he could actually say what he needed to say. So, yes. And La Opinión, it's interesting, continues to resonate in Mexico. We're read regularly by the elite and the political class. The intelligencia of Mexico is familiar with La Opinión. Even though we don't circulate down there, they get us. I know, for example, that the Mexican consulate here clips anything that has to do with Mexico, as well as the front page, and faxes it into the communications director's office in the Mexican president's office, so they're very aware of what we're saying and how we're saying it and who writes for us. The issue is that of public opinion about Mexico, and how important a paper like ours has become and has always been to them in terms of forming public opinion.

Biagi: On that note, what is your circulation today and the number of employees you have?

Lozano: Our circulation, our last audited figures I think have us at about 108,000, 109,000 daily. We employ close to five hundred people. Circulation is primarily concentrated in what you would call the Los Angeles ADI [Area of Dominant Influence] or the greater Los Angeles region or Southern California, but it's really the five local counties that we have our greatest circulation in. We distribute in San Diego. We ship up to the central valley into Northern California. We have some circulation nationally. Most of it is really just very geographically located and centralized.

Biagi: Back to your grandfather, the purpose of the interview, too, is to get a history of this newspaper, which I'm sure has been written several places, but your view of this newspaper and how you see it. So anything you can contribute to that knowledge would be very useful—stories that have been told to you, what you might call the myths that have been passed on. For the time that you know about, what happened to your grandfather, say, in the twenties, coming to this town and starting a newspaper? What are the stories you heard about what life was like for him and what life was like for the newspaper?

Lozano: He came because there was such a growth in the Mexican population in Los Angeles. It was important to provide vehicles for entertainment and for information, so Mexican cinema, for example, really boomed here in L.A. All of Broadway Street was filled with Mexican theater houses where people could go with their entire families. Radio, Spanish-language radio was born right around the same time. La Opinión really played an important role in helping the community to identify itself, to gel and solidify and come together. What we're talking about are not Mexican-Americans or second generation; we're talking about the Mexican community in Los Angeles.

Biagi: How do you differentiate?

Lozano: In those days, it wasn't people who had come and already established roots and were second and third generation; these were newcomers to L.A. who saw themselves as Mexican or "Mexicanos." In fact, the philosophy of La Opinión when it was founded was to be a Mexican newspaper published in the United States. That was my grandfather's intention. It was to be a Mexican newspaper whose purpose was to pay close attention to what was happening in Mexico, to call to task the politicians for what they were doing, and to continue to watch and ensure that there was progress in Mexico. The difference, though, was that this task of vigilance would occur from this side of the border.

Page 3

Page 4

What ended up happening, I think, and it was a subtle shift, that as the Depression hits, the economic situation was such that Mexicans became seen as a problem, as a burden on society. They were scapegoated tremendously. There was a major forced repatriation, huge deportations—tens, twenty thousands of people got rounded up at once and deported back to Mexico, no due process, no intervention by civil authorities, nothing. People just got rounded up, put on trains, and shipped back. La Opinión really led the fight against that—I mean, banner headlines daily, calling against the injustices of massive deportation, worked closely with the Mexican consulate at the time to protect and ensure freedoms and democratic principles.

One of the interesting things I was told about later—and I still haven't had a chance to investigate myself—is that the Hearst paper, the [Los Angeles] Herald Examiner or the Examiner, whatever it was called at the time—

Biagi: It probably was the Examiner then.

Lozano: Anyway, the Hearst paper supposedly ran editorials against La Opinión, saw us as a communist paper. I mean, literally we were labeled "the red paper." And put together a whole campaign where there were demonstrations in front of La Opinión, calls to shut it down and close it up and to send everybody back, including my grandfather. It's interesting, because La Opinión certainly has changed since then, and there's been major transformation of how we do our business. But I think that the initial feeling that we're here to defend the rights of the underprivileged, the underclass, the underserved, is something that we've always maintained. The idea that it's an independent newspaper, that it's objective, that it reports what we see, how we see it, and doesn't try to manipulate depending on who is in office and all of that, which so often would happen at the time, really is something that has been carried forth throughout the sixty years of La Opinión's history.

My grandfather passed away in the early 1950s, and my dad, who had studied journalism at Notre Dame, in fact, took over as publisher of La Opinión in 1953.

Biagi: Let's go back to the thirties and forties and what you've been told about of the newspaper. There was a movement in the 1940s, I know, by Jack Tenney, who was a local assemblyman, to require that all foreign-language newspapers publish side-by-side translations of what it is they printed. Has anybody talked to you about that?

Lozano: No, I'm not familiar with it.

Biagi: I wondered if that happened to La Opinión.

Lozano: I didn't know about that. It was actually a law that was passed?

Biagi: It was a law that was passed, that required that.

Lozano: I know that La Opinión never published in anything but Spanish, and there was a conscious decision. We've never done anything but the entire newspaper in Spanish, except for once that I can remember, but it wasn't way back when.

Biagi: So it was the forties. You can imagine, if you were publishing, that unless you reduced the size of the newspaper, you had twice as much information.

Lozano: That's interesting, because I don't recall that even being told to me.

Page 4

Page 5

Biagi: It could have been—I know that translations were required of the Japanese newspapers.

Lozano: And there were no conditions over size of population served?

Biagi: Nothing. It actually was the death knell of some foreign-language newspapers. I was wondering if they had required translations of La Opinión.

Lozano: The one thing that I do know, though, is that La Opinión is so well received and so well regarded, the advertising base was always relatively secure. There were essentially small Mexican retail outfits locally that advertised in the paper, but I don't think that it had the same kind of problem that, say, a German newspaper would have had, where, in fact, that retail base begins to disappear. It's always been able to sustain itself. I know during the thirties and the forties it was relatively prosperous.

Biagi: So did your grandfather endure any other kinds of what we'd have to call persecution during that time or singling out—

Lozano: I think that the worst time was during the Depression. Just getting the paper out was hard. I mean, there are stories about how the employees were asked to sacrifice pay so that they could pay for the electric bill, or having all the lights turned off and still typing away by candlelight—the sense that it's a daily and that daily life goes on, regardless of how hard it becomes. You had an incredibly committed group of people that really believed in what they were doing. These were people who had started with my grandfather in Texas, who had relocated their families to Los Angeles, and had a real sense of mission. And to put out a daily under those circumstances just—

Biagi: Were you publishing Saturday and Sunday?

Lozano: Seven days a week.

Biagi: Because dailies are sometimes six days a week.

Lozano: At the time, there was also a book publishing arm to the company in Spanish, called Editorial Lozano. So at the same time that he was giving voice to writers who were censored and unable to write in Mexico. He was publishing their works here and publishing books and essays.

Biagi: Were they located here in this building at that time?

Lozano: No, not in this building. In Los Angeles. It was a smaller building down on Main Street. The plant, the physical location has actually moved three times. It was in a small building on Main Street, then it moved down again on Main Street, but down to the garment district, Fifteenth and Main. We've just moved into this building three years ago, going on three years ago.

Biagi: So in 1953, your father is involved. Do you have any knowledge of your grandmother's involvement with the paper? Was she involved at all?

Lozano: Yes, she was. When my grandfather passed away, she moved back to Texas and kept La Prensa going. She was the one who became responsible for the San Antonio paper, and my dad worked and ran La Opinión.

Page 5

Page 6

Biagi: They lived in two separate places?

Lozano: Right. They lived in two separate places. That was really where they were raised, where my dad was raised and they grew up. It wasn't until later that they moved here and they spent a number of years here, but when my grandfather passed away, she went back to San Antonio. Since my grandfather was no longer alive, she could move back to Mexico, and she wanted to move back to Mexico. So she ran La Prensa for about three years and then they decided to sell it.

Biagi: In 1956?

Lozano: Yes. They sold it, and the owner, who I'm not even going to try and guess right now who it was who purchased it, closed it down altogether a couple of years after that. So by the end of the 1950s, La Prensa had completely shut down, and my grandmother moved back to Mexico.

Biagi: In '53, your father was how old?

Lozano: Just out of college, so he was twenty-two, twenty-three.

Biagi: And he stayed here. Was he married at that point?

Lozano: No, but he—don't ask me what year. [Laughter.] My sister, for example, knows all the dates, all the names. Not me. I can get you those dates.

Biagi: Your father had—

Lozano: He came back to L.A., had been studying journalism at the University of Notre Dame, got his degree, and came back to L.A. Really, he had been prepared. His life had essentially been cut out for him. He was the son and he would take over in his father's footsteps.

Biagi: Had he worked for the paper?

Lozano: He had always worked for the paper.

Biagi: Were there any other kids in the family?

Lozano: A sister, and she got married. I don't know exactly when. But she moved to Mexico. Her life was in Mexico, Mexico City. So my dad was really the only member of the family that stayed here in the States, and the rest of the family went to Mexico.

So my dad met my mother, who was at UCLA. It's sort of interesting, because they were involved heavily in Mexican social clubs. There were really well-developed social networks for Mexicans in L.A., almost a parallel society. My dad can tell you stories about going to school in San Antonio where you're not allowed to speak Spanish and being persecuted for being Mexican. The result is that two distinct networks developed—one Anglo and the other Mexican—that had their own way of living and places where they lived and activities and media and everything else. So my dad and my mom had met through one of these social clubs in L.A.

Biagi: In college?

Lozano: Yes. My mom actually got married when I think she was a junior or senior, so she never graduated, but she was at UCLA.

Page 6

Page 7

Biagi: And her major was?

Lozano: Literature.

Biagi: Was there ever any talk during that time, or do you remember your parents talking about any pressure to give up their language?

Lozano: Yes. I certainly think there was a lot of general societal pressure to give up the language. I think that the only reason why language was so maintained in my family is because of the paper. The paper really served as sort of a cultural solidifier. It really was something that so many people that came over to the house, my parents' friends and family, would speak Spanish. Spanish was just such a part of our life, even though we were here.

My grandfather came to establish a Mexican newspaper in the United States. My dad is first generation, he's born in this country, he's raised in this country, he's educated here. He wanted to make of La Opinión an American newspaper published in Spanish. So the focus changed. The focus was no longer going to be on Mexico; the focus was going to be on America and becoming American and showing ourselves to be of this society and of this world, and that you can do that. That can happen while you still published in another language. Language is something that we need to deal with in a multilingual society, especially in places like L.A.

So when we were born, I was born in 1956 and my dad had already been working at the paper. When the kids were born, we were always taught to really respect and enjoy and value our cultural background and never to forget. We weren't allowed to speak English at home. We just literally were not allowed to speak English at home. With my friends when we get together and talk about how we were raised and the pressures we felt while we were growing up, say the opposite happened. Most parents at that time wanted their kids to succeed by not speaking Spanish. My parents wanted us to learn English, but were adamant that we not forget Spanish and where we came from and our roots and all of that. It was really important to them.

Biagi: In what other ways did they send that signal besides speaking Spanish?

Lozano: We were sent to Mexico every year. We would spend our summers in Mexico with my grandmother and all of our cousins. We were the only ones that lived here in the States, so it was really important to maintain the family together. My brother and my sister and I, all three of us, were shipped off to Mexico for the summer months.

Biagi: Where was she?

Lozano: In Mexico City. So we would go down, we would stay with my grandmother.

Biagi: From the time you were real little?

Lozano: Yes.

Biagi: Every summer you had child care taken care of, your parents did. [Laughter.]

Lozano: Yes. I've got my kids right now away from me, and I don't know how they could have done it. I'm having a hard time not having the kids around. But my parents thought it was important. All of our cousins were down there. My dad's sister lived there and she had five kids, and they were all our age. So we were very close.

Page 7

Page 8

Biagi: You just went to Mexico?

Lozano: Yes, yes. And you go through periods where you wonder who you really are. You go to Mexico and you know you're not Mexican. You speak Spanish, but your entire formation was different. You come here and you think, well, this isn't quite right either. It's a phenomenon that I think happens to a lot of Chicano kids that are second or third generation, where you have a real desire to maintain your cultural heritage, but it's not quite one thing or the other. That I think really began to happen when we were adolescents. My brother and my sister, in fact, stopped going to Mexico. They just said they didn't want to go down anymore for the summers. I continued to want to, and ended up going by myself and staying with my grandmother by myself. My parents were concerned that we not forget our roots.

Biagi: What was it that you liked about staying with your grandmother? Why did you continue that?

Lozano: I suppose it's just feeling comfortable, comfortable in that environment and in that culture and really liking it more. I liked it much more than I liked it up here. I had a lot of friends and we had a great life. My family comes from a certain economic class and we were very comfortable. We didn't have to face a lot of issues in our lives that most Chicano kids [have] who are from poorer backgrounds. We were very well off. But in terms of how people interact on a very basic interpersonal level, there's something missing here in the U.S. that you get in a place like Mexico, where family really means family, and extended family really is extended family. You interact as part of a larger group. Here everything is so individualized, that if you're going to succeed, you do it on your own, and you advance on your own. People are much more competitive. I just don't think I ever really liked it as much as I like the other.

Biagi: You continued those visits for how long then, until you were how old?

Lozano: Sixteen, I think, was the last time that I went. Then my grandmother passed away later on, and those relationships began to be harder to maintain.

Biagi: So where does your family live in L.A.? Where did they live when you were born and as you were growing up?

Lozano: Actually in Orange County, in Newport Beach. My parents, I guess, moved down there in the fifties, just before I was born or right after I was born.

Biagi: Had they lived here in the city?

Lozano: Yes, lived here in L.A., because I was born in St. Vincent's Hospital, which is right up here on Alvarado and Seventh or so. So they lived in this neighborhood, and I think it was after I was born that they moved down there. But I was raised in Orange County, in Newport Beach.

At the time, my dad, I suppose, wanted a life that was more comfortable, and the environment was certainly great. It was down by the water and had recreational activities and all that. He would drive into L.A. every day. In those days there wasn't as much traffic, so it wasn't as much of a burden like it is now.

Biagi: And your mother, did she work at the paper?

Lozano: No, she was a homemaker.

Page 8

Page 9

Biagi: So she stayed at Newport Beach, and he drove to the paper every day. Now we're talking about the fifties and early sixties. What kinds of issues were facing him at that time? If you had to guess the circulation, what would you say it was at that time?

Lozano: Eighteen thousand, maybe. Probably less than 20,000. My dad says that when he took over the paper, he was convinced that he would be out of a job in just a few years. He thought that people had already come from Mexico, and the big wave of immigration had ended. He thought that those who had come had really established their roots here, and their children, like us, had been born here and would no longer read a newspaper in Spanish [within a short period of time]. He was convinced that La Opinión would be shut down by the sixties.

Biagi: He didn't foresee the continuing migration?

Lozano: Well, he didn't foresee the continuing migration and the civil rights movement of the sixties. That really was, I think, the next important phase in terms of the philosophical development of the newspaper. You had the civil rights movement and the movement against segregation and towards integration. The paper had to figure out exactly what role they would play. Do you become involved in social movements in this country? What's our relationship to them? Like I said, the philosophical switch became really apparent then. It was no longer going to be a Mexican newspaper, and if it was going to publish in this country, it had to be concerned about issues in this country.

You could ask a lot of people, and I'm sure they would give you different opinions about the role that La Opinión played during the sixties and the seventies. Some people saw it as ultra conservative. Some people saw it as maintaining status quo and not being militant enough. There was a lot of Spanish-language press that was born in those days that was militant press, that was advocacy press. The La Raza Unida Party had their own paper. Essentially it was an alternative to what they viewed as La Opinión's stodgy conservativism. My dad, by all intents and purposes, is a relatively conservative man, but I think that his approach towards journalism is really one of objective analysis, that you're not the news, you report on the news, that you really don't get involved in what it is that you're covering, that you offer all of the basics of what's happening—who, what, why, where—and give the information, but don't try to advocate for one thing or the other. You do that in your opinion pages, but you don't do that in the content of the newspaper. He was really clear that you maintain those standards of journalism, even in Spanish-language press, which really goes against the tradition of Spanish-language media.

Biagi: Do you think it ever hurt you? Did that point of view ever hurt La Opinión in any way?

Lozano: I think that probably in a sense, if you think about it as a member of the community press, if you were to conceive of La Opinión as community press, then it might, because people probably would have thought it was more important for La Opinión to be an active participant, to be in there rallying the troops as much as any organization would need to rally the troops. But I think that if you look at La Opinión over the long term and you think of its ability to sustain itself over seven decades, I think the only way that that happened was because it was objective and it did maintain a distance. Not a distance from the community and the needs of the community, but a distance in how it approached the issues in its news coverage.

Biagi: Would you feel it would be your responsibility to cover that issue? Has it been a tough one for the paper to cover?

Page 9

Page 10

Lozano: No, no. One of the things that I was going to say about my dad and one of the things about my grandfather—it sort of is the Lozano tradition, I think, that in terms of social causes—is that we're pretty clear on what we think is right and what we think is wrong. The newspaper has always seen itself as a necessary voice of an oppressed group of people, if you want to put it in those terms, because there really is a lot of injustice and there has been a lot of prejudice and a lot of discrimination—institutional discrimination that you really need to take a strong look at and say, "There's something wrong here," where people can't open bank accounts because of their last name, or people can't go to schools because of their last name or the way they look. It's fine to be an advocate; it's just the way that you approach it and how you use your newspaper to cover those subjects.

So in terms of farm labor, for example, we're very clear that there was a just cause. The only thing that you don't do is deny reporting on both sides of the story. You have to make sure that if you're going to say, "César Chavez* says this, that, and the other thing," you allow the Farm Labor Relations Board to say, "No, that's not true." You provide both sides of the story when you can. Again, it's always been very clear that if we have something to say, we say it on the editorial page.

Biagi: You wouldn't see yourself marching in a march or participating in a march?

Lozano: No, no.

Biagi: But you would point out inadequacies?

Lozano: Right. Right. It was an interesting time also because as the civil rights movements became more militant and more radicalized, that was really where the Chicano movement was born with the Brown Berets and the national mobilization and Chicano moratorium. My dad, I think, didn't see himself in that group of people, doesn't have the same shared values.

Biagi: He would have been in his forties?

Lozano: Yes. In fact, it's almost generational, because it was also the point where people who had been called Mexican-American, or who had called themselves Mexican-American, split, and the younger, more politicized, more radical generation started the Chicano movement. It was a real response to the Mexican-American. Being Mexican-American was seen as assimilationalist. My dad would never be a Chicano. He doesn't see himself as Chicano. He is not Chicano. It's a political statement that just isn't appropriate to him and what he believes.

Biagi: How would you define "Chicano"? If he isn't that, then what?

Lozano: It really is a political statement more than anything. It doesn't have as much to do with ethnic heritage or generational distinction. It's a more confrontational, more radical approach to who we are. At the time I really think it was more an issue of assimilation versus acculturation. If you were to be accepted, then you really needed to lose your cultural values and assume the cultural values of the larger society. That, I think, was more the trend of Mexican-Americans

* César Estrado Chavez (1927-1993), U.S. labor organizer, founder of the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), founder and first president of United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO, the first viable agricultural union in the U.S. Used nonviolent tactics, including fasts, marches, long-term strikes, and boycotts.

Page 1

Page 1

who felt that if you were going to succeed, you don't speak Spanish, try and pass, do what the other people do—you know, all of that. And Chicanos was really at a moment in history where people said, "No. If we're going to be here, you accept us as we are. We speak Spanish and our patron saint is La Virgin de Guadalupe. You accept us with all of our cultural identity and traits, and don't try to make us lose them, because that's incorrect."

Biagi: But yet it's home. He was requiring his family always to speak Spanish.

Lozano: Yes.

Biagi: So he was—

Lozano: See, I think a lot of it is external perception. It's what people think my father would be. He's a very complex and interesting man, and I think has become much more open about his continuing struggle to really make change. I just think people approach change differently.

[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]

Biagi: Continue about your father.

Lozano: One thing I was going to say, because all of this stuff becomes relevant to contemporary La Opinión, my dad wanted La Opinión—when I say that it was an American newspaper published in Spanish, he wanted La Opinión to be accepted. It was important for people to say, "This is an important, relevant, well-written professional news entity, and it needs to be respected and seen for what it is, regardless of the language." Language was inconsequential in that sense. So he joined a lot of organizations, he became very involved in CNPA [California Newspaper Publishers Association] and all of the media institutions at the time, what was ANPA [American Newspaper Publishers Association], the Inter-American Press Association, which is now run out of Miami.

But he really wanted to be at the table. It was important to be sitting at the table. That carried over into his business relationships also. He was named to a lot of commissions—the Commission on the Californias, which studied California and Baja California. He became very involved, involved both in politics, in a sense, because he was an appointee to a lot of both state and federal commissions, but he also became involved in the industry. Both of those things became really important, because my dad became seen as a person who symbolized the Mexican-American, the Latino and Chicano community here in Los Angeles. He is one of the few Latinos to really break new ground, who has really been a leader like very few leaders in the Latino community, a national leader. He sits on a lot of boards of directors when there's still only a handful of Latinos who sit on major corporate boards. He was named ambassador to El Salvador by President [Gerald] Ford. That was also a real turning point in the newspaper's history.

I personally wasn't involved in the newspaper during my young life. I finished high school outside of the area. I finished my high school in Northern California in Monterey and then went to the University of Oregon, and then after college, went to live in San Francisco. So I really spent most of my adult life away from L.A. and away from the newspaper, unlike my brother and sister. My brother and sister had always spent a lot of their young life either working here during the summer or involved in the newspaper at different levels. When my dad was named ambassador to El Salvador in 1976 by President Ford, he and my mom and my younger brother went to live down there, and my brother and my sister took over as co-publishers.

Page 11

Page 12

Biagi: This is your brother. His name is?

Lozano: José.

Biagi: And your sister?

Lozano: Leticia.

Biagi: José was born when?

Lozano: '54. My sister in '52. So they had already been at the paper. My brother had worked here off and on most of his life, as well as my sister. They were in their twenties. So they took over when my dad was gone. So now you have a third generation of Lozanos running the paper.

My dad came back only after a year. His appointment lasted for a year. Ford was out and [Jimmy] Carter was in, and he got called back, which he's probably glad about, given the situation in El Salvador at the time.

Biagi: "Call me back, please!" [Laughter.]

Lozano: Well, it's true, because the government was run by the military, and they would pretend to have elections, but it was really very rigged. It's the kind of stuff that my dad can't sit back and watch idly. He started asking questions and was treading on ground that he probably shouldn't have. Americans in El Salvador at that time were beginning to be seen as targets. There were a lot of kidnappings. But it was an important process, I think, in my dad's political maturity, because he saw first-hand what U.S. foreign policy means in a place like Central America, as well as the real inequities in society. You might think that things are not great here, but when you go to a place like that, you really see how the ruling class is really the ruling class. So it was an important time for him. I think it really changed his perspective.

Anyway, he was gone for a year, and when he came back, he resumed his position, but my brother and sister continued to be very involved in the paper. Eventually my dad retired in the mid-eighties, and he named my brother publisher, and my brother had already had that experience, running the paper.

Biagi: Let's go back to you now in 1970. You're living in Newport Beach and going to high school, if you could even be so specific as to tell me which schools you attended. Begin at the very beginning.

Lozano: I went to grammar school at a place called Our Lady Queen of the Angels. It was a Catholic school in Corona del Mar. Then I spent two years of high school at—

Biagi: You stayed at Our Lady Queen of the Angels for how long?

Lozano: Through eighth grade. Actually, I spent first and second grade at another grammar school.

Biagi: Public school or Catholic?

Page 12

Page 13

Lozano: Catholic. It was a Catholic school. I went from Our Lady Queen of the Angels to a Catholic girls' high school in the city of Orange called Marywood. It's a Catholic all-girls' school in Orange.

Biagi: What an unusual name for a Catholic school.

Lozano: Marywood? It's like Mary of the Woods. It probably came from something like St. Mary's or something.

Biagi: The saints are pretty obvious.

Lozano: Mary is pretty obvious.

Biagi: Is Marywood two words?

Lozano: One word. Journalistic license. They probably at some point decided—like Our Lady Queen of the Angels was hard to get in when you had to write the name of your school.

Biagi: On college applications.

Lozano: Right. Anyway, so I went there freshman and sophomore year, and then junior and senior year of high school I went to a school called Santa Catalina.

Biagi: Also a Catholic school?

Lozano: A Catholic girls' boarding school. I suppose they would call themselves a college prep school.

Biagi: On Catalina Island?

Lozano: No, it was in Monterey, California.

Biagi: Did you have any family in Monterey?

Lozano: No.

Biagi: Why did you choose this school?

Lozano: I think my parents chose it. [Laughter.]

Biagi: You didn't have a lot to say about it?

Lozano: No, no. We decided it would be good for me to go away and finish, and it was a good school, a boarding school.

Biagi: Did you like the idea?

Lozano: Yes, I did. I did. I thought I needed to get away. My parents thought I needed to get away. [Laughter.]

Biagi: Were you not getting along?

Page 13

Page 14

Lozano: I think that everybody is aware that there are a lot of pressures, and kids are susceptible to pressures. I was going to a Catholic girls' school. Rebellious traits begin to show, and you want to try different things. I think that in the long run I'm glad that I went to boarding school, because it put me back on track. Not that I had, you know, gotten way off track, but I think the potential is always there when there's a lot of—

Biagi: Were you a child of the seventies, so to speak? Were you beginning to speak out?

Lozano: Yes. Yes. And, you know, it's also really hard when you think of the way my parents were raised and their relationship to their family. They really were first generation. They were raised in a Mexican household where you don't speak back. Your dad says something and you sit on your hands and you nod and you say "yes" and you do it. The issues of respect, the roles, are so well defined, and then here come us. My parents came to parenting with those traditional ideas, and here come these kids who were born and raised in Newport Beach, like you said, children of the sixties and the seventies. My brother and sister got involved in the anti-war movement and SDS [Students for Democratic Society]. You start to look at and test the waters and question everything. And it wasn't just us; everybody was questioning everything. It was the sixties, you know.

Biagi: What forms did that protest take for you or for your family?

Lozano: It could just be as simple as saying "No. Why? Why should I do that? Explain it to me. Give me a good reason." That's unheard of in traditional Mexican society. You don't even ask why; you just nod and you do it. That's probably the simplest of all examples. I was a little too young to get involved in anti-war movements and that, but my brother and sister did. All of that is what you're raised with. I'm at the back end of the baby-boom generation where I'm too young to have participated, but old enough to have been formed by it, to really have your character formed by all of that.

Biagi: Ruben Salazar?

Lozano: Right. See, Ruben was a good friend of my dad's, even. I remember all of that.

Biagi: What do you remember about it? On the East Coast, they're not even going to know what we're talking about. You'll have to explain.

Lozano: There were a lot of things that happened in the seventies. Again, I didn't participate—one, because of where we were raised. I mean, in Newport Beach you didn't have student walk-outs. But the student walk-outs had happened on the East Side here in L.A. People had mobilized. People had organized. They were demanding that things change. We're talking about anything from education—you had major student protests in high schools where kids were walking out because education was inferior for Latino kids in L.A.—to probably the biggest march, which was in 1970, which was called the Chicano Moratorium. If you looked at the statistics, the number of black and Latino kids that were being sent to the Vietnam War were higher than Anglo kids who were drafted but wouldn't be sent to the front lines. So the number of casualties in the Latino community was enormous, and there was a huge, huge demonstration on the East Side, in East L.A., where people marched to put an end to the Vietnam War, to call for a moratorium. Gosh, I suppose there was 20,000, 30,000 people marching.

One of the guys who was covering the march was a reporter for the L.A. Times. He'd actually started off in Spanish-language TV—Ruben Salazar. He was one of the first Latinos to

Page 14

Page 15

work for the L.A. Times, he had a column, and was a close friend of my dad's. And Danny Villanueva. There was just only a handful of people who had been allowed into the ranks of mainstream journalism. Ruben was covering the march. He was in a bar on Whittier Boulevard over on the East Side, and was killed by the sheriffs who shot tear gas canisters into a bar where he was, and he was killed.

So I remember that almost as vividly as people remember the [John F.] Kennedy assassination. It was something I didn't fully comprehend, but later on in life, you know.

Biagi: What do you remember of the day and the times?

Lozano: Actually not much. I just remember my dad coming home and crying. It was one of the two times that I've ever seen my dad cry.

Biagi: Then what did it mean, do you think, to your father and to you, or to the Latino community?

Lozano: It's one of those real watersheds. It's a turning point in history. It was outright murder of an innocent journalist doing his work. It really spurred on a lot of things in society, but in terms of journalism, you could ask a number of people. I think it was a catalyst for organizing. Latino reporters, Chicano writers organized. The California Chicano News Media Association wasn't born out of that, but it certainly was catapulted to another level in terms of what the mission of the group was. Out of the California Chicano News Media Association came the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. So really the roots are in just a handful of people here in Los Angeles that were at the forefront of Latinos in journalism—not just Spanish-language media, but Latinos in journalism.

Biagi: Throughout all of those times, though, were you questioning your father and questioning his ideas and events like this? It would seem to put a lot of pressure on the newspaper.

Lozano: Yes, I think it did. There were a couple of things that were important. I've never talked to my dad specifically about it, but my read is that he knew, or he believed, that it was important to work within the system, that you don't try to change the system by trying to bring it down, which was the call of so many radical groups at the time, that you really work within the system. That's probably why he joined ANPA and CNPA and decided that was the road to take. I think it was the correct vision to have, because now what La Opinión is is a real key player in Los Angeles. If you're going to understand how L.A. works, it's essential to know about this publication and to try to access it and make sure that if you have a story to tell, you tell it to us as well as general-market media. I think that if the paper in the seventies had decided to go the other way, really radicalized, it would have been a fringe paper. It really would have not been seen as the player it's now come to be seen as. You know, you could say being a part of the establishment was not something that anybody should aspire to, but it is, especially now when demographics have changed so drastically and you really have a city that's almost half Latino. I mean, you are the establishment. I think that it was an important strategic move to make sure that it continued to play within the circles as opposed to moving towards the radical left or something.

Biagi: Were there pressures on the paper?

Lozano: I'm sure there were. In fact, somebody I ran into just the other day who now runs the Chicano Student Center at USC, who said that in the seventies, he and a bunch of Chicano professors had decided that La Opinión was too conservative, was a pawn of the establishment,

Page 15

Page 16

that it wasn't concerned about contemporary Chicano issues. So they demanded to meet with my dad. These professors from the different universities and institutions came to meet my dad, and my dad was waiting for them. He had prepared. He had piles of clips of stories that La Opinión had covered in the community, real community news, and said, "Your concern is that we don't cover the community. We cover the community." And he showed them these clips. This person that I was talking to, Abel Amaya, director of Chicano Student Center at USC, said that everybody shrank in their seats and walked out with their tails between their legs, because, in fact, none of them read the paper. They all thought that the newspaper was something that it wasn't. There was a lot of pressure on the paper to do something by people who are Latinos but don't even read the paper and think they know what kind of paper it is.

Biagi: If you had to describe your father and your mother, put adjectives to them at this time, what adjectives would you use to describe them?

Lozano: My dad is ethical, he's committed, very intelligent, highly motivated, funny, and strict. [Laughter.] And my mother is very compassionate, very concerned. She's supportive. She's also very intelligent and serious.

Biagi: So at this time in your upbringing, what is your mother's role?

Lozano: My mother is a good companion to my dad. She's a good mother in the sense that she's very concerned. She's very concerned. She's concerned about me all the time. Do I sleep enough? Do I eat well? I'm working too hard. I think that on one hand, they're both quite proud of my accomplishments, all of our accomplishments, but since you're asking about me specifically. But she's very concerned about the rhythm of my life and my lifestyle and whether or not I'm taking care of myself and all those things.

Biagi: So your father would ask you professional questions and she would ask you personal questions.

Lozano: Yes, even though I think my dad's concerned about the other stuff as well. But I would think that my dad—let me go back to high school and college and that. My brother and sister worked here forever. My brother's about to turn forty, and he's worked here for twenty years. He literally has spent his entire life working at the paper. I didn't. I finished high school, I went away, I didn't come back after college. I moved to San Francisco and I came back in the mid-1980s—1985, to be exact. The very end of '85, in November. I really only came back because my family asked me to come back. My dad had had a physical problem that was serious, serious enough to really concern the family. He's since then recuperated extraordinarily well, but the family really wanted me back.

My sister had left. She'd gone to Italy to live with the man that she eventually married. My brother was by himself. My mother was with my dad in the hospital, and I was up there in San Francisco. I came back, but I came back reluctantly. I didn't want to live in L.A. I like La Opinión and I liked the idea of what La Opinión was doing, but I just wasn't quite convinced that this was going to be my life. I didn't want to follow in anybody's footsteps. I had never seen that as part of my personality. So I made it very clear that this was something I was doing, I wasn't doing it against my will, but I wasn't committed to the idea of being here. Since then, I really have become committed. I really love what I'm doing and think I'm good at it and think that the paper is doing something that's really valuable. So for a lot of different reasons it's become very important to me.

Page 16

Page 17

Once I decide to do something, I have to do it well. I have to really excel for me to be satisfied. And my dad loves it. I don't think he's told me. It's not like he puts his arm around me and says, "I'm so proud of you," but he lets it be known constantly.

Biagi: That he's happy you're here.

Lozano: Sure. Sure. And that the paper is doing as well as it's doing. I think it's important to understand that as much as I'm involved, so is my brother. My brother continues to be the publisher. The paper has really just done so tremendously well in the last few years. I think it's a tribute to my brother and to myself, but we have to recognize that it really is a family operation.

Biagi: Going back to leaving high school, the University of Oregon is an unusual choice.

Lozano: Yes.

Biagi: I'd like you to tell me about your thought processes.

Lozano: There wasn't much of a thought process. I had decided I didn't want to—

Biagi: Had you done any journalism in high school at all, or were you working here or doing anything to do with the paper?

Lozano: Not at all. My only recollection of the paper at the time was—not even at the time, but in my earlier years, was coming to visit my dad as a child and running around, thinking everything was just so neat, but not feeling compelled to come work here. My brother and sister worked here, but for some reason it wasn't something I wanted to do. My summer jobs were completely different. In fact, I worked with mentally retarded kids one summer. I thought I was going to get into social work. That's what I thought I was going to end up doing. In fact, when I got to college, I was contemplating going into education. I thought maybe I would be a teacher. I even took some education courses right at the very beginning.

I ended up getting involved, or taking classes in the study of sociology and political science. I didn't take more than a couple of journalism courses. When I was at Oregon—

Biagi: Why were you at Oregon?

Lozano: I'm not even sure that I know exactly why I ended up. I applied to three schools, I got into three schools.

Biagi: Where did you apply?

Lozano: UC-Berkeley, the University of Oregon, and a school in Mexico.

Biagi: What year would this be now?

Lozano: I graduated high school in '74. Mexico was because, like I said, I really was drawn to it. I thought I wanted to live there. There's a really good school just outside of Mexico City that I wanted to go to. UC-Berkeley because it was California, it's Berkeley and all of that stuff that people are attracted to.

Biagi: Berkeley. [Laughter.]

Page 17

Page 18

Lozano: Right. And Oregon because it had some programs that were good enough, it was more country living. I really didn't want to go back to a city. I had gone to Monterey and I really enjoyed being in Northern California. So I think more than anything it was because of the environment that I ended up going to Oregon.

Biagi: But it was rainy.

Lozano: Yes, it was.

Biagi: Not too many ocean beaches in Eugene, Oregon.

Lozano: No. So I studied sociology and political science for the most part, and became involved in a women's collective that put out a newspaper called Women's Press. It was a real collective. Keep in mind that this was when women's studies was born. I was taking women's literature courses for the first time, and sociology classes about sex role socialization and learning about concepts that to me were so intriguing. There was a group of women that would get together to talk about all of these different things. So we ended up writing, and we produced this newspaper called Women's Press.

Biagi: What year did you start this endeavor?

Lozano: '75, '76.

Biagi: Were you a freshman or sophomore?

Lozano: Sophomore. I didn't start it. It had already been publishing when I got involved in it. Collectives were quite the thing back then. Everybody worked in a collective or belonged to a collective, including the store where you bought your raisins and yogurt, etc. I liked the way it worked, because we really planned the edition together, we would think of all of the stories, we'd research all the material, write it all, do all the interviewing, we'd take our own pictures and type it up on our IBM Selectrics.

Biagi: You were really automated with IBM Selectrics there.

Lozano: We had the little ball that you put in and take out for different fonts.

Biagi: No computers. [Laughter.]

Lozano: Laid everything out, pasted it up, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the process. I ended up not finishing college altogether. I left towards the end of my junior year. I had just finished my junior year in '76. I had also been taking Latin American studies courses and was still certainly involved in that part of my life. But in Oregon, you may study it, but it's not part of your life. I had a hard time being in a place like Oregon and feeling so alienated from my culture and nobody around like me or who had any experiences like mine. There were some Chicano kids at the University of Oregon, but a handful. There was no sense of community.

So anyway, I left in '76 and traveled for almost a year throughout Latin America.

Biagi: By yourself?

Page 18

Page 19

Lozano: With a girlfriend. The two of us literally started in Northern Mexico and made it all the way down to the very tip of South America. When I came back from that trip, I moved to San Francisco and never went back to the university, unfortunately. I would say unfortunately because I think it was a mistake not to have at some point gone back. But anyway, I did go to the City College there and got a degree in printing technology. This was something that came out of that collective newspaper experience when we would do all of the work on the newspaper and then turn it over to a printer to finish the job. I had this real sense of a lack of accomplishment because I couldn't finish the entire process. If I wanted to do this, if I wanted to work in print media, I wanted to be able to actually know how to produce the thing also. I ended up learning how to run a press. Not a press like the kind of presses used for newspapers, but I at least learned the entire production process.

Biagi: Was it hot type?

Lozano: No, it was offset by then. But it was important to me to know how to do all of that. In San Francisco, I worked again on one of the little community bilingual newspapers in San Francisco.

Biagi: Called?

Lozano: El Tecolote. It was bilingual, also collective, and circulated primarily in the Mission district where most of the Latinos live in San Francisco.

Biagi: Did you live in the Mission?

Lozano: I lived in the Mission district.

Biagi: You went to City College?

Lozano: I went to San Francisco City College, and I ended up getting a job, supporting myself through my printing experience. I ended up running a graphic arts printing company and worked there for at least seven or eight years.

Biagi: Called?

Lozano: Copy Copia is what it was called.

Biagi: In the Mission district?

Lozano: No. They actually had a lot of shops all over the place. I worked at three different places, all of them in San Francisco.

Biagi: That was layout? You had some layout work that you did at City?

Lozano: Yes, actually all of it. The graphic design, layout, printing, all of it. It was a full-service graphics arts company. At the same time I was working at this collective, and I continued to write and was into photography. I did a lot of photography at the time.

When I came to La Opinión in 1985, I came without direct newspaper experience, no daily print experience whatsoever.

Page 19

Page 20

Biagi: No reporting?

Lozano: No. It's a family-owned and operated company, started by my grandfather, then my dad and my brother and my sister, and so obviously my relationship to what I was doing and why I was here was different than most people who had worked their way up through the ranks to end up editing a major newspaper. They really opened the doors and asked me to come in, knowing full well that I didn't have sort of a traditional background and experience that you would find in most managing editors.

Biagi: In '75, '78, '80, had anybody asked you to come back here before?

Lozano: No, no. I think also because everybody knew that I was quite happy doing what I was doing, and my brother and sister were here, so there wasn't a sense that I was needed. It wasn't until when my dad got ill and my sister wasn't here, and it was just my brother, that I was asked to come back.

Biagi: Your sister left in '85?

Lozano: Probably in '84. I think she had been gone for about a year or so. I'm not exactly sure what year she left.

Biagi: So your father and brother were here. I want to get this in my mind. Your father was here. Was he operating as publisher then?

Lozano: Yes.

Biagi: And your brother had what position then?

Lozano: I wonder what his title was. I would think it would still be like assistant publisher. I could find out exactly what his title was.

Biagi: So when you came in, your role was what?

Lozano: Managing editor. I came in as managing editor. There was somebody who was working as editor at the time, and he ended up staying here until just a few years ago.

So I came in as managing editor. My duties at the time were administrative. I was also responsible for all of our special supplements, the tabloids, as well as the public service work that we were doing at the time—not the daily, but everything else that we were doing, and we were doing a lot of special supplements and special public service reporting.

Biagi: Let's stop now.

Lozano: Okay.

Page 20

Go to Session Two | Session Three
Index | Cover | Home

© 1994, Washington Press Club Foundation.
Washington, DC. All Rights Reserved.