Dwight Macdonald was at risk of becoming a journalist

Word count: 200 words

Reading time: Less than a minute

I read as much of the New Yorker my time will allow each week. Not infrequently, I am way behind. As a former journalist, articles about newspapers, magazines and non-fiction writers frequently grab my eye.

Thus, I recently read a story about journalist Dwight Macdonald in the Sept. 5/11 issue with particular interest. Like many writers in the 1930s, Macdonald was deeply affected by the Depression and it radicalized him. He resigned as an associate editor of Fortune Magazine in 1936 following a dispute over editing of a harshly written four-part series he’d produced about US Steel.

The New Yorker piece, by Louis Menard, contained much interesting background (particularly for those who follow writers) and it also had my sentence of the week.

A person whose financial requirements are modest and whose curiosity, skepticism, and indifference to reputation are outsized is a person at risk of becoming a journalist.

I like balance of  truth and humour in this sentence. Curiosity, skepticism and indifference to reputation were certainly requirements of journalism in the 1930s. (Mostly true today, except, for the latter attribute, which reversed 180 degrees following Watergate.) But I LOVE the phrase “at risk” modifying “becoming a journalist.”

So true. So funny.

Scroll to Top