Until 1977, when he was temporarily assigned to report on Los Angeles' bid for the 1984 Summer Olympics, Ken Reich's beat for the Los Angeles Times had been politics. Of course, L.A. got the Games, and Reich got the assignment of covering the non-sports side of the Olympics. In the last seven years he has written relatively few political stories, as the term is usually defined in journalism, but he has certainly covered a lot of politics, as his report on preparations for the Games (which begins on page 64) amply reveals.
Although his conventional political reporting for the Times included coverage of the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Presidential campaigns, the 45-year-old Reich (pronounced "rich") says, "I've enjoyed the Olympic assignment more than anything else I've ever done. I knew from the beginning that it was going to be a big, big story, and it has been. In 1980, the year of the Moscow Olympics and the U.S. boycott, I had 62 stories on page one of the Times, more than I'd ever had in a year as a political reporter. And I traveled everywhere. I was divorced a few years ago, and I share custody of our two children, Kathy, who's 12 now, and David, 9, with my former wife. I've taken them with me on trips. Kathy has been to 18 foreign countries with me, and David has been to 10."
Not that Reich is itching to permanently leave Los Angeles, a city he knows and enjoys. As were his parents, he's a native Angeleno, although he spent most of his youth in Palm Springs, where his father's folks had a house. His mother moved there when Reich's father, a Naval officer who retired as a rear admiral, was on sea duty.
Reich went from Palm Springs High to Dartmouth and spent his junior year at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, studying political science. He earned an M.A. in that field from Cal and then worked as a political reporter for UPI and LIFE before joining the Times in 1965. He has been there ever since.
In January 1983, SI assistant managing editor Peter Carry, who's in charge of our coverage of the L.A. Games, asked Reich to send us detailed background reports on Olympic developments every couple of weeks, along with clippings of pertinent stories. This arrangement, made with the Times's approval, has been of considerable help to us in planning our Olympic coverage, and Reich's story in this issue is a natural outgrowth of his earlier reports.
The fact is, Reich has always been interested in sports. Though a track man in high school—he was the 1955 Riverside County League 660-yard champion—his favorite spectator sport is baseball, which he unabashedly says he loves. His athletic activities now pretty much consist of hiking and backpacking. He and David walk stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail whenever they have the time, something they began doing when David was only six. "So far we've covered 547 miles," Reich says. "Since the entire trail, from the Mexican border to Canada, is about 2,600 miles, we figure that David will be 22 when we get done."
REICH: HIS LOS ANGELES OLYMPIC BEAT BEATS POLITICS