"The making of a magazine is a laborious and often a thankless job. To one letter of sympathy or commendation an editor or publisher receives one hundred of criticism. But the labor is its own reward to one who will make an effort to find it. In almost no other business is one brought so closely in touch with thousands of his fellow beings." — MacGregor Jenkins, in his book "The Reading Public" (1914).
"When an editor receives a contribution from a beginner he grins and gloats; he knows the misery of waiting he can inflict, and the thought rejoices his evil mind. After a few months of waiting, perhaps the beginner may be fool enough to begin to call. Every time his name is taken in the editor laughs aloud with glee. On the two-hundredth call the editor consents to see the beginner, to gloat over the misery of his face and obvious destitution. The editor then gives himself absurd airs of importance and says he has had no time to read the contribution. Eventually it is returned or destroyed. I was once present when an editor received the news that a beginner, worn out with waiting, had committed suicide. The editor immediately had a glass of sherry and a biscuit." — George Slythe Street, in his book "Views of an Angry Man" (1902).
It was on this day (December 16) in 1960 that two passenger planes collided over New York City, killing all 128 people on board, in the worst commercial airline disaster up to that time. The wreckage of one plane, a TWA Super Constellation, came down on Staten Island. The other, a United Airlines DC-8 jet, crashed in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, setting fire to brownstones and killing two Christmas tree sellers, a sanitation department snow shoveler, and others on the ground. Among those on board the TWA flight out of Columbus, Ohio, was Garry Cleveland Myers, Jr., president of Highlights for Children magazine and son of its founder, along with his wife, Mary. They were both 38.
"When the disappointed author, enraged at the loss of his postage-stamps as well as of prospective gain and glory, curses the hide-bound narrowness of the soulless and brainless editor, he should remember that the editor is merely a middleman who caters to the wants of his customers, without the power to force their tastes." — Frederic M. Bird, writing in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, 1894.
It was on this day (December 14) in 1956 that two major magazines, Collier's and Woman's Home Companion, were killed at the same board meeting. Though each title had a circulation of more than 4 million, both were said to be unprofitable. Editorial staffers were reportedly notified by telegram that they'd lost their jobs.
"An editor, according to popular conception, is a person, male or female, who wields a wicked blue pencil, indulges in delightful tete-a-tetes with successful authors, and draws a fabulous salary for being a thorough-going tyrant and autocrat.... Popular fiction to the contrary notwithstanding, an editor is, in nine cases out of ten, a mild-mannered, hardworking individual who rarely uses a blue pencil, and whose life is about as romantic and thrilling and filled with pleasant chats with successful authors as is a carpenter's..." — Hazel Miller, in The Writer magazine, 1920.
"I have found a lively and persistent curiosity on the part of readers to know how magazines are edited, why such a person as an editor is necessary at all, and what are his special functions, for to many readers an editor is only a shovel to the printer's hopper, without authority or responsibility." — Robert Underwood Johnson, in his 1923 memoir, "Remembered Yesterdays." Johnson was editor of The Century, a major magazine in its day.
It was on this day (December 11) in 1954 that Henry Adsit Bull, a former editor-in-chief of Town & Country magazine, was found dead in the kitchen of his New York City apartment. Police said that Bull, who was in his late 40s, had been preparing dinner when he was apparently overcome by gas fumes. At the time of his death, Bull was reportedly working on a biography of his ex-boss, William Randolph Hearst.
Today would have been the birthday of Doug Kenney, co-founder and editor of the National Lampoon as well as a co-writer of and actor in the movies "Animal House" and "Caddyshack." Kenney, who was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, on December 10, 1946, died after falling off a cliff in Hawaii 1980. The early years of the National Lampoon are commemorated in the 2010 book "Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead," by Rick Meyerowitz.