• U.S.

Magazines: A Change of Charity

2 minute read

For ten years, Publisher George C. Kirstein had been shelling out his own money to keep the liberal weekly Nation alive. As a staffer put it, “It was time for a new charity.” Last week James J. Storrow Jr., 49, a Bostonian who has made a small fortune from film and food companies, took over the burden from Kirstein. “The posture of a dissenter is not a profitable one,” the new publisher conceded. “One does not grow rich by shooting sacred cows.”

Storrow is unlikely to shoot the Nation’s own sizable herd of sacred cows. “I’ve never met a man with whom I’ve shared so many ideas,” says Kirstein of his successor. Storrow boasts no publishing experience beyond his trial run in putting out the Nation’s 100th anniversary issue last summer. Yet so uncharacteristically sleek was that 336-page effort that Storrow may be just the man to make dollars out of dissent. He feels confident that he can double circulation to 60,000 within 18 months and show a modest profit—the first since 1944. He plans a big promotion campaign on college campuses, where he believes most potential $10-a-year subscribers are concentrated. He will also brighten up the magazine’s layout and typography and improve the quality of its paper.

Otherwise, the Nation seems destined to remain its old iconoclastic self. Ebullient Carey McWilliams, 60, will remain as editor; the other half dozen full-time staffers will also stay on the job in the magazine’s dowdy Greenwich Village office. Typically acerbic articles are in the works on the federal antipoverty program, the State Department, Latin American land reform and the Viet Nam war, a special worry of Storrow’s. “It is no time for government by consensus,” he declares. “That tends to turn into government by apathy or government by automation, where anything can go unquestioned.”

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