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Guide to the Time Inc. Corporate Editorial Records
1944-2003 (bulk 1959-1994)
 MS 3009-RG 6

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Holly Deakyne

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 28, 2021
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical Note

The office of Editor-in-Chief did not exist at the formation of Time Inc. since the company initially had only Time as its major publication. Cofounders Henry R. Luce and Briton Hadden were both listed on the  Time masthead as editors from 1923 through Hadden's death in 1929. Though both were listed, their agreement in practice was to swap positions as the heads of editorial and business.

After Hadden's death, John S. Martin became the managing editor of Time with Luce listed above him as editor. According to Robert T. Elson, writer of the authorized history of Time Inc., Luce was using the title of editor-in-chief in 1938 when he resigned as Time Inc.'s president and chief operating officer, but retained his roles as board chairman and editor-in-chief.

According to Time Inc.'s history on the company intranet, Luce restructured the management of the magazines in 1937, giving each a publisher, a managing editor, and an advertising director. This restructuring established the separation of the business side from the editorial side, respectively referred to as church and state by staff. Luce formalized these roles and the importance of separating them in a 1938 memo entitled "The Principles, Policies, Attitudes Etc. Which Govern and Motivate Time Inc." It is possible this restructuring is when Luce took on the title Editor-in-Chief although he isn't listed as such on magazine mastheads or in the annual reports until the 1940s. According to the intranet, Luce wrote a note to Hedley Donovan, his pick for next editor-in-chief, in 1962 reiterating the necessity of the independence of the office.

Editor-in-Chief was the top editorial position at Time Inc., overseeing editorial policies and standards for all titles and divisions including magazines, books and newspapers. The entire editorial side reported up to this position, and the editor-in-chief reported directly to the board. The publishing/business side reported up to top business executive which became the chief executive officer around 1960. In 1978, shortly before his retirement, Donovan presented a statement to the board to precisely define the role of editor-in-chief so that the office would be preserved for future holders. This statement was formally adopted as company policy in December 1978. In April 1986, succeeding Editor-in-Chief Henry Grunwald further updated the definition of the title in a statement to the board, a copy of which is in Ray Cave's files.

After the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications in 1990 when the magazine and books divisions became subsidiaries, the editor-in-chief began reporting to the head of Time Warner blurring the editorial and publishing/business separation. In 2014 when Time Inc. disaffiliated from Time Warner, the editor-in-chief was replaced by the chief content officer reporting to the chief executive officer which removed the separation altogether.

Citations:

Bill Hooper, email to Holly Deakyne, 10 June 2016.

Bill Hooper, email to Holly Deakyne, 8 May 2017.

Prendergast, Curtis, and Geoffrey Colvin. 1986. The World of Time Inc.: The Intimate History of a Changing Enterprise, 1960-1980. New York: Atheneum.