After landing the city editor job at the Los Angeles Tribune, Lou Grant's first major story is a sex scandal concerning the LAPD and underage girls. However, in order to get it published he must deal with a reporter that is reluctant to bring down the police and Mrs. Pynchon who has a difference of opinion with him.
When Lou gets a tip from a friend who claims to know the whereabouts of a missing millionaire, members of the staff initially have doubts about following it and dismiss it as a hoax. The man begins to gain credibility when he is able to retrieve information that only the missing man would know.
When a member of the staff passes away, Lou does everything he can to comfort the widow which causes her to depend more on him and fall in love with him. After a small earthquake hits, Rossi interviews a scientist who claims that his insects are predicting a more serious one in the upcoming days.
Surprised by the paper's lack of coverage on the shooting of a Hispanic woman by a gang, Lou allows Billie to go into the Hispanic community to write a story. While in the community, she meets the victim's son who is fueled with anger and seems headed down the wrong path.
Pressured to get the latest scoop at any cost, Lou ends up in hot water after running two of Rossi's exclusive stories which turn out to be false. So when Billie has information about a possible fake kidnapping, Lou is reluctant to run the story.
When Lou goes to a courthouse to look into a report of inappropriate behavior by a senior judge, he angers the judge by trying to leave in the middle of a trial and is put in jail. Upset by this treatment, he gets the newspaper staff to further investigate the judge's erratic behavior.
After Lou tells him that his stories are missing first-hand experience, Rossi checks into a mental institution as a patient under a made-up name to investigate reports of abuse. Lou clashes with a lawyer at the paper because he feels that censorship and fear of possible lawsuits are limiting what the paper can publish.
Billie uses a battered woman as a source for a story on spousal abuse but has trouble following through with it when the women's husband finds out. She later finds out that a co-worker has a problem with spousal abuse.
Lou gets homesick with Christmas approaching. Billie does a story on a family that is homeless for the holidays and public donations begin to pour in. After Rossi improperly uses a quote, Lou punishes him by assigning him to a boring story that turns out to be a juicy story.
When a man saves the governor's life and then flees the scene, the paper launches a campaign to find his identity. When they find him and write a story revealing that he has a criminal record, he blames the paper for hurting his business and ruining his engagement. Billie is upset at the lack of support for a halfway house that is on the verge of closing due to lack of funding.
When the paper finds out about the son of a wealthy businessman being secretly detained by authorities, Lou decides to have Rossi investigate. However, when a CIA agent thwarts the investigation before it begins, everyone begins to suspect there is a CIA informant working at the paper.
After Rossi's friend reveals that he has damaging information about the unsafe conditions at a nuclear plant, he is "accidentally" struck and killed by a car. Eager to prove that it was no accident, Rossi continues the investigation into the nuclear plant.
Lou reluctantly goes for a physical and finds out that he has a thyroid condition that requires surgery. At the paper, he offers advice to an intern who wants to become a reporter. Rossi learns that he has a good chance at a Pulitzer prize for his story on mental hospitals.