History of Time Magazine Part 3

About the history of Time magazine, the founding and publishing in America.



The Time machine, which was labeled "group journalism" by Luce, generally went like this: Writer-editors would present ideas for news stories at weekly editorial meetings. Acceptable ideas would be passed along to bright young researchers from colleges like Wellesley and Smith, who would gather facts, interview principals, and then give the information to a writer, who would concoct his story, often with more regard for cleverness than for accuracy. From there the story went to an editor for rewriting and then to the managing editor for finishing touches, after which it was returned to the researcher for word-by-word rechecking before it went off to the printer. Considering the preponderance of inaccuracies, the outside world could only wonder where the system broke down, while insiders presumably knew. Some, like Winthrop Sargeant, who was a staff writer for many years, apparently did not mind such abdication of news responsibility, or at least were willing to trade it for the handsome salary that went along with it. Others, like James Agee, openly anguished.

The 1940s and the onset of W.W. II brought about a profound addition to Time's structure--the field correspondent. Before that, war news had come secondhand from the wire services, newspapers, and radio, and had been rewritten in the offices of Time, Inc. Beginning with Paris, Time opened news bureaus in foreign capitals and staffed them with its own correspondents. Not that the dispatches they sent back to New York were ever published per se; they were always subject to extensive rewriting. Articles during this period were invariably anonymous. In 1940 Time, always Republican and anti-Roosevelt, did its best to make Wendell Willkie president, and its treatment of the incumbent was usually dishonest. In fact, the manipulation of news and the arrival of "hard line" men like Roy Alexander and Otto Fuerbringer on the staff brought about the gradual departure of many of Time's best writers and editors--Archibald MacLeish, Ralph Ingersoll, T. S. Matthews, John Hersey, Charley Wertenbaker, and Theodore White, to name a few.

Even before America entered the war, Time was propagandizing for the country to become involved--not to save democracy or the British, but to establish American dominance in the world. This was to be, Luce said, the "American Century." America must take charge of the world because no one else was worthy. Military supremacy was essential. Aid to one's allies was also important, but only "friendly" allies, which implied that some allies--i.e., the Soviet Union--were not "friendly." In fact, Time did its best throughout the war to keep its readers cognizant of the fact that although the Russians were technically on our side, they were still a menace. There was no way, Time indicated, that Christian capitalism could truly be allied to communism.

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