A few days ago Vanity Fair paused to take note of the end of an era in American journalism – the sale of Time Inc, where I arrived as a "girl who knew sports," as ABC Sports broadcaster Frank Gifford once dubbed me in complimenting me on my ability to talk sports. And when I left my job at Sports Illustrated five years I'd learned journalism, written some stories and fact checked a lot of other, and defeated Major League Baseball in a federal court case that leveled the playing field for women sports reporters by giving us the equal access to locker rooms that we needed to do our jobs.
Vanity Fair's headline stopped me cold.
“I’D RATHER WATCH MY PARENTS HAVE SEX”: INSIDE THE FINAL DAYS OF TIME INC.
Executives count their payouts, staffers worry about layoffs, and 100 years of media history comes to an end with Meredith’s takeover of Time.
Soon Time Inc alums gathered on Facebook to reminisce about the good old days with requisite call outs to how grand life our lives were back then, with late night dinners served on china, fully stocked liquor cabinets in editors' offices, and expense accounts that gave many of us first class lives on the road. It was the heyday of print advertising that kept the company's coffers full, but what I noticed in my colleagues' words was less about how good our lives were as journalists at Time Inc, but how meaningful it felt to have the privilege of working as a reporter or researcher, correspondent or photographer, writer or editor in the Time & Life Building at the corner of 50th and Avenue of the Americas.
A sampling of comments, below, became a Rip Van Winkle experience as one by one we recalled memories of how journalism – at least at Time, Inc. – used to be.
High journalistic standards (which are harder and harder to hold on to)
Fact-checkers! Whole floors of fact-checkers! Imagine.
It could be a very feisty company, in the day, challenging powerful interests. I remember our lawyer saying, after reviewing a story, "They may sue us if you run this, but we'll win. Go for it." Such a great attitude!
Totally. Lawyers who thought their job was to help you publish the story rather than keep the company from getting sued.
4 month paid maternity leave
Got to do great, rewarding work that was valued by my bosses and peers ... was fairly compensated ... hung out with bright, talented people ... and met my wife. Loved every day of it—even the bad ones. Made my father inordinately proud. Not a bad list, for starters.
My honor to work with smart, brilliant people, many of whom would go to bat for any of us. The late-night closes in London — what a bonding experience! Making friends all around the world and, most importantly of all, introducing me to the love of my life. Xo
It taught me journalism standards I still treasure and now labor to try and pass down to the young writers I work with today. It introduced me to three presidents, several wannabe presidents and a whole world of interesting and insane people. And it taught me that a magazine is only as strong as the people who work there, and that you attract great people by treating them well and inspiring them ... at least until AOL shows up.
Here's another perspective – Who killed Time Inc.? – published in Columbia Journalism Review.