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New York City in the 1920s and 1930s was a great newspaper town, and few people knew the exciting world of breaking stories and five-star finals as intimately as Stanley Walker. Walker earned a reputation as one of the city's most resourceful and astute newspaper men during the seven years he spent as city editor of the Herald Tribune. In City Editor, Walker distills his experiences into a robust insider's account of the journalism of his day, bringing to life the era's famous reporters and editors and offering hard-won and valuable insights into the practices and ideals of his profession. He takes on the difficult issues confronting the journalists of both his own day and ours: journalistic ethics, the value of journalism schools, freedom of the press and corporate influence on editorial content, and the impact of new media (in Walker's day, news magazines and radio) on newspaper circulation.
In marvelously concise and vibrant prose, Walker describes the challenges and pleasures of covering New York City ("It affords the newspaper man an ever-changing spectacle"), balances the threat of libel with the need to get a good story ("A paper which doesn't take chances is a dead paper"), and offers candid advice on good newspaper writing ("Pick adjectives as you would a diamond or a mistress... too many are dangerous"). He laments about the young reporters ruined by alcohol or marriage and looks at the demands of other newspaper jobs, from copyreaders and photographers to sports writers and press agents. He analyzes why some newspapers succeed while others fail and discusses the future of women in journalism, concluding with profiles of twelve of New York's best reporters (including Beverly Smith, Walter Davenport, and Alva Johnston) and a characteristic story by each. Sixty-five years after its first publication, City Editor remains a lively, entertaining, and valuable record of the golden age of American journalism.