The L.A. Times Uses Its Physician Owner to Help Explain the Science Behind the Coronavirus

It’s not unusual for newspaper owners to have, well, other interests. In the old days of family ownership, it was common for the publisher’s kid to go off to have a different career for a few years before Pops handed him the reins. More recently, the 2010s wave of billionaires buying important dailies brought a new kind of skill diversity—running a global online retail empire, for example, or trading Mookie Betts for a bag of moldy peanuts and an old stick of gum.

But the L.A. Times may have reached a new high in combining its editorial products with its owner’s side gig: Last night, it released an eight-part video series on the science behind the novel coronavirus, starring its owner, Patrick Soon-Shiong. Soon-Shiong, who bought the Times in 2018, is a transplant surgeon, medical researcher (“more than 230 issued patents worldwide”), and owner of numerous medical companies and startups. In other words, you’d probably want his opinion on COVID-19 ahead of, say, A.G. Sulzberger’s or Sam Zell’s.

The videos, which add up to about 33 minutes in total, cover a pretty conventional set of topics (what is the coronavirus, how deadly is it, how contagious is it, how long will this last, and so on). Soon-Shiong sounds like the UCLA med school professor he once was more than a polished TV presenter; he’s the sole star here rather than someone being interviewed by a moderator or journalist. You can watch all the parts starting here; I’ve also embedded the video that combines them all into one piece below.

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