News in 20th Century America; 15; Newsmagazines
The following program was produced and recorded by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant from the educational radio and television center in collaboration with the National Association of educational broadcasters news in 20th century America. A series of radio documents on the gathering writing and dissemination of news compiled from interviews with the men and women who make news their business. We feel it Dave. Journalists should be concerned about what is happening and show is concerned and take trying to arrive at some conclusion as to what this the news is pointing up to what is a run on the real facts and pertinent facts rather than just sitting back like the man who is too lazy to make up his mind about something and just report the known facts without any kind of indication. And what they point to the voice is that of RAI Larson president
of Time Incorporated. Mr Larson is only one of several distinguished editors and journalists you will meet in today's edition of news in 20th century America today. The news magazine it's history point of view and function in American life. Now here is your host at girls. How does the news magazine differ from the newspaper in its approach to news. Do most magazines represent a single point of view. Are they partisan politically. Does their growth reflect a desire on the part of the American people for more extensive analysis of the news in search of answers to these and other questions. We took our tape recorder to New York City to Washington D.C. and to Columbia Missouri. And today on the subject of news magazines the comments of Douglas Peter Washington editor of The reporter Norman Cousins editor of The Saturday Review Dr. Frank Luther mocked dean emeritus of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and Mr. Roy Larson.
To begin we asked Mr. Cater what he thought was the purpose behind publishing a magazine like the reporter. Seems to me the publications are definitely conditioned by their that term cycles. The daily newspaper can't do the job that a weekly and week is a fortnightly magazine can do. A job that we feel that not even the weekly magazine can do and in turn a monthly has a different purpose. Being a fortnightly we have a company deadline which is just long enough between the completion of an article and the publication of it so that one does not. One has to project one's whole self in the writing of the article beyond the immediate recounting of what's happened. Same time we can come out fast enough that we don't like a monthly have a three or four
month delay and then we have to write an almost too generalized effect about current political happenings. To put it succinctly we have attempted to provide new third dimensional third dimension to reporting the give reporting more perspective in what depth. I know that's that's my primary purpose when I tackle an article that I'm doing as a magazine out of ideas and opinion we also don't are not subjected to the same restrictions that a daily reporter would be having a editorial opinion about the subject in which we are writing. We don't pretend to the so-called straight rip porting of the wire service reporter. If the reporter is a magazine of ideas and a piggin we ask Mr.
Cater whose ideas whose opinions Well we do not pretend to be a magazine that is just a compilation of everybody's views on everything we do not. Dictate editorial lines but on the other hand we regard ourselves as a magazine with a fair and consistent editorial outlook. Course there are certain subjects in which we have no opinion and we will get someone whom we regard as highly competent in the field to write and that's pretty well writes as he likes but if it's an area of international policy or domestic policy which fits within the framework of our liberal outlook we of course look for a writer who we think is in our own is in our area we don't just we're not proposing that the reporter Magazine be a internal debating society. There are other
magazines which carry other points of view and presumably the reader will have ample opportunity to examine that. At this reference to other magazines we were of course reminded that there are at least three other high circulation news magazines in the United States today. Time Newsweek and US News and World Report Do they consider themselves magazines of ideas and opinion magazines who don't pretend to quote Mr. Cater to the so-called straight reporting of the wire service reporter. Roy Larson president of Time Incorporated has his office in the Time-Life Building overlooking New York's busiest intersections. Despite the traffic and some difficulty with our recording equipment we quoted Mr. Larsen about Time magazine itself. How would he characterize the time news story as opposed to one which appears in the newspaper or over radio and television. I think the difference between times reporting and
and they telecast or the news story is in the damp stats and background and meaningfulness that it brings to the story. And time coming out weekly. Is able to find out what took place in the first three innings of the baseball game will say as referring to the news. Very few people come in at the beginning of a news story and time has found it important to give the background and then to give in survive as possible a beginning middle and end of that of that story. I won't go into what I think the newspaper does most often but I don't think in the daily press or any daily newscast we find this kind of reporting on all of stories odd time stories we asked
Mr. Larsen straight reporting or do they express or reflect an editorial opinion I think and the editors of Time. I don't think I believe that there is no such thing as just complete objectivity in reporting. Time starts and facts started in 1923 with a recognition of this problem. And I think you'll be interested too. Here are some prejudices which time started with in 1923 and prejudices which where they were published in our original prospectus. And on the basis of which we skew it I Reginald's triptans. We felt these prejudices were necessary to be set first because we announced from the start that there would be no editorial page in time. This was a radical departure from the usual what was general idea.
So we felt it was necessary to give our background prejudices and it's amazing how kind of dazed and cowardly pregnant these prejudices up here are some of them a belief that the world is round and in admiration of the Statesman few of all the world. You will remember 1923 the League of Nations was a very big issue before the American people said it was the prejudice with which we addressed ourselves to the news of the League of Nations we were for. A general distrust of the tendency toward increasing interference by government. I would still hold out on a prejudice against the rising cost of government. We still hold that money facing the things which money cannot buy. A respect for the art particularly in manners and interest in the new particularly in ideas. Well there are not many
prejudices we have added to those as basic points of view from which we examine the facts of any news event and then report it. So Mr Lawson summarized what he calls the basic prejudices of time. From what point of view does Mr. Tito believe that the reporter magazine examines the neos. I think we represent a new type of liberalism. We were born in 1950. The magazine I know I'm sorry born in 1949. We just were coming on to the scene with the arrival of Senator Joseph McCarthy as liberals. We I think were he's outspoken and as affective as any magazine of small circulation and of not gigantic circulation that is in bringing out new
facts and new ideas about what we regarded as the minister to civil liberties and to freedom of thought in America that McCarthyism represented on the other hand we have not clung to the doctrine of economic liberalism of the of the of the 30s and the immediate post-war period. Seems to me I know in dealing with my editor in proposing new subjects that we are always we have an inquiring and open mind about about these types of issues and so we don't regard not we don't approach it with the sort of the cliches of former Times reporter and that sense is not a doctrinaire liberal magazine would you label your magazine as partisan toward one party or another. No I would say we make a. Great effort not to be a partisan in the strict party sense of the
word publication. We're always looking for the types of articles that will break away from any any purely partisan undertone magazine. If a news magazine has a definite editorial policy as Mr. Cater has indicated for the reporter or operates from a basic set of prejudices has missed a large enough time suggest how does such a magazine arrive at a unanimity of opinion among its writers and reporters. The question was directed to Mr Larson. How do we get a year of opinion between online reporting is that why should we try. We have to have that report is to have different backgrounds and different political beliefs and different points of view so that we get not unanimity that we're sure we understand every point of view about any. Band a problem that
comes before us. So there is no necessity to get them and he may be a necessity to get a consensus on what the facts are. This is very important and sometimes I think we get we have perhaps unanimity in getting these men together and getting an agreement on the facts and then suddenly what's appeared to be disagreement disappear. We were frankly curious about this relationship between fact and opinion and the ascertaining of exactly the nature of the facts. How does Time magazine arrive at the facts. We have a news bureau with just the biggest I bureau serving one individual publisher. This means that we have men and women and photographers in the field all over the world and in the United States who are in a position to
get their facts or correct facts that have come in through the news services or one way or another. When that then we have as you point out a large staff of researchers whose job it is to really dig out the facts and to check those facts. And the final the final story has to present time has must be rechecked for accuracy by the people who were responsible for getting the facts on that story originally. This prevents any and also prevents any mis interpretation or mis emphasis which by the time the right has finished may have crept into his story the researcher comes right back and said This is not what that this is out of context or this was not manhood This is the
wrong figure the wrong day date or the wrong person. Mr Larson was also aware that tone of presentation may color a news story and the time has frequently been criticized for treating serious stories in a flippant manner. It usually comes from someone who takes himself or or another person perhaps more seriously than we feel is warranted by the record. There have been some famous instances of. Have we'll go back in history. Perhaps political figures as senators a congressman I think you and I would agree we're not entitled to really serious treatment. But I think the time broke through the reserves that journalism and had before that and called it
shots on these characters. And so anyone who just liked anything the time did its findings of fact found it very easy to call a time slip and I think actually they have. Perhaps a screw up in the very early days of the development of time style which was so unusual and different that sometimes it didn't seem entirely serious. Well actually it was very serious in getting the numbers over and the facts over and. But I don't think that anyone can point to an article in Time today which would warrant the characterization being flippant. Time and the reporter are only two of the magazines as we've already pointed out. The deal almost exclusively with news or news interpretation
leads to one a weekly the other a fortnight later are certainly representative of this type of periodical. In our generation. But their contribution is nothing new. As Dr Frank Luther mocked at the University of Missouri was quick to point out Dr. Matas the award winning author of a monumental work on American magazines in talking to us he said it's sometimes thought. That their news in a magazine is a new thing came in with the magazine time. But of course that isn't true or taught. Go back to there. Yeah and even if you want to go back to the Literary Digest you go back much further back you go back to the very earliest magazines published in the 18th century. You might leave Parkman of News Notes magazines the very first magazine was called General magazine an historical chronicle. Say here were events.
That need to be said now in our mind that does serve to point to the fact however that there is a little more of record and review in these weekly news periodicals than there is in the average newspaper. At that point I would like to make one which I have come to feel very strongly in the last year. I think that our newspapers change at. Least our better newspapers like Sami's bakery and. Are undergoing a slowly rather subtle change and of the new newspaper. It is going to be more a journal of record and review than it ever was before. It was a new idea injected into our conversation. The gap is narrowing
between news magazines and newspapers because of the influence of the electronic media. As Dr. said we need a little time for reflection. We need a little time to think about things that are going on so fast and if we just take them off the radio or off the television then we dont have that time. And so all that puts newspapers a little closer to the news magazine you see because thats a function of news magazines had and there never has been a very sharp eye and are very very heavy right between newspapers and magazines anyway and particularly since 1890s. Not only are magazines and newspapers approaching each other in that manner of treating use but almost all magazines in the United States today are taking increased interest in news analysis. Not many years ago the Saturday
Review for instance dropped from its title the words of literature are assuming that this might have some significance to our inquiry. We asked Norman Cousins editor of that publication how his magazine fitted into the overall picture of news dissemination. Mr. Burroughs the sad review is not a news magazine nor is it a magazine of news interpretation. However it is true that frequently the magazine is identified with certain positions positions related to the news. Now we do this in two ways. One we had to come in long before the event. Or we come in sometime after the event. If we come in before the event we generally do sell in terms of attempting to anticipate what the big movements are likely to be and we deal with this therefore within a fairly historical and in many cases
a philosophical framework. After the event we try to develop some degree if we can of historical perspective. In either case we are concerned terribly concerned but we're not concerned with spot news. We're interested in what happens to people not only today but for a long time to come. This serves as the basis generally for our editorials and to a lesser extent for our articles way. We don't run articles dealing with the news as such. Although our editorials are keyed to important events but again frequently in terms of anticipation or retrospect. What did Mr Cousins mean we asked. By coming in before the event we don't attempt to cover an event what we intend to do is to foresee the big problems that are likely to emerge as the result of certain forces that are now in
existence. For example beginning in 1945 we were concerned with the possibility that there might be an atomic armaments race and all the things that would proceed out of that. The great danger to this country and all people everywhere of an uncontrolled situation with respect to atomic arms. We were talking about it then we felt that the policy at that time of assumed superiority was an extremely dangerous one of the policy of Monopoly was a fantasy we couldn't keep a monopoly of the knowledge or weapons. Consequently we at that time beginning in 1945 did attempt in a very serious way to deal with the big questions that were likely to arise as the result of an existing situation. Now to that extent you might say that we attempted to anticipate big problems. Mr Cousins has conducted a number of humanitarian campaigns through the pages of his
magazine. Among these his successful efforts to bring the so-called Hiroshima maidens to this country for medical treatment will be remembered. This type of crusade without was more typical of old time newspaper crusading than of modern objective news coverage in magazines. Did Mr Cousins think other magazines should be doing this sort of thing. There are a great many successful magazines in this country. And I'm not sure that what we did might work elsewhere. But what we did we did not because we thought it would work because we thought it wouldn't work. But because that was the way we felt. Well it so happens that we are not editing a dryad magazine. And. We don't care particularly. If some people want to hang an albatross around our necks and cause a doo guy and seems to seems to made the prince one of the main diseases of our time as a certain detachment. From the vital event from what's happening the people. What I think it's
Laurens van the Post calls the caring heart. And in our sophisticated age of course it's not considered a good idea to expose a caring heart. But fortunately we are in a position to indulge ourselves we aren't please on this magazine and this is the way we feel and if the heart on our sleeve shows we plead guilty. It may be that some people will feel that. We ought to remain a purely literary journal. We are not concerned about great events and yet this seems to to the editors at least to be our justification for living. This is what we like to do and that is why we do it. Matter of fact I think there's a great hunger in the land. It's a hunger that not too many publications may be serving perhaps a hunger represented by the need to make great connections and a great time in history.
Connections between oneself and the great issues of our time connections between oneself other peoples between yesterday and today and today and tomorrow. JON STEWART Professor of Journalism at the University of Michigan is one of the consultants for this series. In addition to years on the staff of The New York Herald Tribune a New York Times Professor Stewart was national news editor for the Literary Digest. We asked him to comment on the place of the news and opinion magazines in the journalistic picture. I recall an exchange that took place a few years ago between Harry college and then a time editor and Lester Markel Sunday editor of The New York Times. Mr. Hodgins had written that the magazines were wide awake to the fact that the newspapers were 20 years out of date in serving the fetish of speed privacy that had been taken away from them by radio. In striving for speed where speed no longer counted Mr. Hardin said the newspapers were foregoing many of the virtues of insight penetration scope grasp
understanding perspective and reflection. Into the breach left by the newspapers yearning for the split second Mr. Hodgins concluded the magazine walked with astounding results. It is now the magazines that have the money to span the top talent to hire the adequate space to provide that journalistic scoop in so far as it still existed. Move from the domain of the newspaper to the domain of the magazine which once was not even considered a part of journalism at all. To which Mr. Markel retorted by comparing the solid comprehensive authority of the newspaper with the I quote condensation casualness in order to present ation of the news weekly. The newsweeklies correspondents hunt for dashes of color here and dots of information there. The newsworthy items in time where they had actives the delectable details and frothy footnotes that the news weeklies called back ground the frenzy of trying to guess on Monday what Thursday's news will be. The slant which leaks or is hosed into news columns of certain of the weeklies
will not be solely modest Mr. Marko continued as to call Mr. Hodgins attention to such productions as the New York Times review of the week or the weekly summaries in other newspapers where the background job is done with balance and without bias. No I should content myself with putting the question why. If the newspaper has so little of value in Mr. Hodgins eyes why does Mr. Hodgins time by from its news dealer every day one hundred thirty five copies of The New York Times every day weekdays and Sunday and quotation. This exchange of course does not resolve the argument but it does I think point up often heard criticisms and defenses. Whatever its faults the news magazine as we know it today obviously answered a demand not met by the old Literary Digest put together as it was largely with scissors and paste. Time and a sharp and distinctive and provocative manner gave continuity to advance. It showed that news does not sport. It flows in reporting these events without benefit of
Byron's or editorials as presented in the words of Mr 200 Mr Henry Luce. The truth as we see it heating complaints against time's Olympian anonymity. Newsweek labeled unsigned editorial comment. United States News and World Report gave added dimensions to reports in depth on public issues. The older journals of opinion the nation the New Republic joined by others like the reporter in the National Review offered voice to partisans in a wider range for debate. Magazines like newspapers as Dean Martin suggests face further adaptation to supplement one another most effectively to complement the electronic media and to satisfy what Mr Cousins calls the hunger in the land. Thank you Mr. Stewart. You have been listening to the news magazine one of a series of programs on news in 20th century America in the series we explore all facets of the gathering writing and dissemination of news in this country today by means of recorded interviews with
- News in 20th Century America
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- News in 20th Century America is a radio series on the gathering, writing, and dissemination of news. Each episode addresses a specific topic in the news industry, and features interviews with men and women who make news their business. This program is produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service in cooperation with the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.
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