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.Read More