• U.S.

A Letter From The Publisher, May 6, 1946

4 minute read

In these letters I have tried to keep you posted on TIME’S brand of journalism and on some of the things that go on behind the scenes here. This week I would like to tell you how we keep ourselves posted on the doings, the comings & goings, and the scattered activities of the 2,274 of us at TIME Inc. who get out not only TIME but also her sister publications, LIFE, FORTUNE, THE ARCHITECTURAL FORUM, and MARCH OF TIME Cinema.

A chronicle of these events called F.Y.I, (meaning For Your Information, as distinct from For Publication) arrives weekly at the desk of everybody in TIME Inc. It is an informal, six-page, single-spaced, photo-offset bulletin put out without benefit of slick paper or inspirational messages from the officers of this corporation.

F.Y.I.’s editor and its reporters stick close to two of the fundamental tenets of good journalism: facts & names. Their output is as unfettered as the title of their publication. In the process of recording the engagements, births, shifts, departures, homecomings of this naturally restless and nomadic business, and such incidental intelligence as “Marjorie, formerly known as Pease, would like to be hailed henceforth as Sparks—married last September.” F.Y.I, manages to be both informative and sprightly.

When Dublin’s Irish Times turns up with an item saying “Fur-collared, Paisley-scarved, Churchill-sock-wearing Walter Graebner” is in town, F.Y.I. passes on the information and points out that TIME International’s European Area Director was wearing a pair of Winston Churchill’s socks because he fell into a pond on the ex-Prime Minister’s estate at Chartwell.

The same goes for recording the anecdote that the King of Saudi Arabia told to one of our correspondents who interviewed him, or the terrible time one of our photographers had getting gas for his car in China. He finally had to settle for alcohol distilled from rice which, he was happy to inform F.Y.I., was sometimes redistilled, flavored with rock candy and served as a beverage at the local officers’ club.

F.Y.I. carries no paid advertisements, but the response to its Public Notices column would floor even the most over-confident advertising man. There you can find your choice of a “brand-new bathtub for $45”; a “120 Bass M. Hohner accordion with a double octave bar”; “two pairs of 9 short nylons for 9½ mediums”; “four well-bred grey-striped kittens”; a part-time maid, or a fervent plea for a hard-to-get copy of Tubbs Analytics.

F.Y.I, was unnecessary when TIME’S first issue went to press 23 years ago because there were only about 10 full-time employes and they knew, in a harassed sort of way, exactly what everyone was doing. Later, when few people could be sure what the rest were up to, a long-time staff member, Isabella Van Meter, who joined TIME shortly after it was founded, suggested that it would be nice if everybody could know what was going on around TIME Inc. She was promptly given the job of finding out for everybody. (This week, after one of the longest editorial tenures on TIME Inc., I. Van Meter resigned her editorship of F.Y.I. and prepared to go to China to work with her doctor-husband.)

Perhaps her (and F.Y.I.’s) best testimonial is the fact that TIME Inc. correspondents in the field read F.Y.I, before turning to their copy of TIME to see if the news they cabled in got printed. Wrote one of them recently from our office in Shanghai: “F.Y.I, continues to be our favorite publication. We learn about Silk’s ducks, Calhoun’s sweatshirt, the TIME girls’ parties for the G.I.s at Halloran (Hospital). . . . And how is luncheon at the Holland House, Isabella? And does one still see happy and familiar faces at the Three G’s restaurant? Ah, forgive me, I’m weeping…,”


James A. Linen

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com