Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reflections of an Editor

When I first edited an issue of Toward Freedom Ronald Reagan was midway through his second term as US President and the Sandinistas were running Nicaragua. Although the Cold War was actually almost over, at times it seemed like the geo-political battle between the US and Soviet Union would continue indefinitely. That says quite a lot about making assumptions.

Until the early 1980s my experience was mainly domestic, as a local journalist, human services bureaucrat and community organizer. I’d traveled outside the US a bit but seldom wrote about international issues. However, William B. Lloyd, TF’s founder and editor since 1952, had asked me to write up an anti-apartheid conference in New York in 1981. After that, we continued to discuss issues and, in the summer of 1986, he suggested that I step in as editor as he moved toward an emeritus role while consulting on articles and contributing editorials.

The Board of Directors was still based in Chicago then, but Bill had recently retired to Vermont. By the end of that year, when he officially stepped down, the question became whether the publication could or should survive its founder.

The basic argument in favor of continuing was that TF’s ongoing mission – analyzing the developing world from a progressive, internationalist perspective – remained valid and vital, but the format and scope could and should change. The Board agreed, and as I explained in January 1987, “In the future, TF will attempt to describe and evaluate the non-aligned movement while expanding its coverage of developing countries.”


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