Cover image for The last editor : how I saved the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times from dullness and complacency
The last editor : how I saved the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times from dullness and complacency
Bellows, James G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Kansas City : Andrews McMeel, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 349 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN4874.B3699 A3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Last Editor is the memoir of Jim Bellows, the editor whose David-and-Goliath battles changed the face of the newspaper business. Bellows struggled to save major competitors of America's three most powerful newspapers: the New York Times , the Washington Post , and the Los Angeles Times . In doing so, he developed major talent from rough cuts and brought a new generation of writers to the mainstream press.

The Last Editor is a unique memoir of a man who loved a fight--highlighted with commentary from his colleagues in letters and sidebars from the biggest names in media. Sidebars from Wolfe, Ben Bradlee, Art Buchwald, Katherine Graham, Mary McGrory, William Safire, just to name a few, and 16 pages of black-and-white photos, provide behind-the-scenes insights to the triumphs and controversies of the man who shaped the industry.

Author Notes

James G. Bellows was born in Detroit, Michigan on November 12, 1922. During World War II, he served as an aviator in the Navy. He received a degree in philosophy from Kenyon College and went into the journalism field because a professor suggested it. During a 34-year career, he worked at eight newspapers and was editor-in-chief of The New York Herald Tribune, The Washington Star, and The Los Angeles Herald Examiner. In 2002, he published a memoir entitled The Last Editor: How I Saved the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times from Dullness and Complacency. He also worked in television as managing editor of Entertainment Tonight and executive editor of World News Tonight on ABC. He died from Alzheimer's disease on March 6, 2009 at the age of 86.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Although the subtitle sounds immodest, Bellows' memoir is generously sprinkled with notes and letters written by colleagues--from the likes of Tom Wolfe and Jimmy Breslin--attesting to his prowess as an editor and fellow journalist. Because he spent his career working for the number-two paper in major markets, he raised the hackles of as many prominent journalists and editors as politicians. Among Bellows' recollections are accounts of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee's ire when he and Sally Quinn were often the subject of the well-read gossip column, The Ear, started by Bellows and later adopted by his rival. This is a lively, engaging recollection of the glory days of newspapers with amusing stories of the fabled men and women of journalism at a time when many American cities supported at least two newspapers. The notes and commentaries of others provide a flavor of the aggressive newsgathering and fast friendships that developed within the cauldron of deadlines and heated competition. Vanessa Bush.

Publisher's Weekly Review

The subtitle of this irreverent memoir carries a special meaning for those who know about Bellows's journalism career he did not "save" the three first-rate newspapers by working for them. Rather, he influenced their content by working against them at the New York Herald Tribune, the Washington Star and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, now all defunct. Bellows typifies the notion of editor as idea factory: he pioneered a literary style of journalism, with Tom Wolfe and Jimmy Breslin as the youthful exemplars; he launched a celebrated political gossip column Diana McLellan's The Ear at the Star; and he began treating the world of entertainment as front-page news in Los Angeles. Now in his eighth decade, Bellows tells of his early years in a well-to-do Ohio family, his WWII service, and his almost random choice of a journalism career, which brought him not only to newspapers but also to television and the Internet. Every chapter is filled with boxed asides that some readers will relish William Shawn's letter to Trib publisher "Jock" Whitney in response to Tom Wolfe's infamous lambasting of the New Yorker, for example but too many are tributes to Bellows from the likes of Willie Morris, Gail Sheehy and Art Buchwald. Sometimes witty, other times simply self-congratulatory, the book is not great literature, but the writing is filled with verve. Bellows obviously enjoyed himself at the office. Journalists, especially those of Bellows's generation or those who recall his legendary reputation, are quite likely to read this memoir all the way through; and young journalists might learn a thing or two from his war stories, but it's hard to see a larger audience being drawn to these reminiscences.B&w photos. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Resumep. xi
Introductionp. xiii
1. Tom Wolfe and The New Yorkerp. 1
2. Ben Bradlee and The Earp. 15
3. The Klan, Mr. Hoover, and Mep. 35
4. The Maggot Also Risesp. 47
5. Early Mentorsp. 63
6. The Shining Momentp. 81
7. Maggie Changed Mep. 107
8. Decline and Fallp. 117
9. East Is East and West Is Westp. 133
10. Good Times, Bad Timesp. 153
11. Joe Allbrittonp. 169
12. Oh, Kay!p. 193
13. Mary Not Contraryp. 207
14. Citizen Bellowsp. 221
15. Big Storiesp. 233
16. E.T. and ABCp. 249
17. On to the Internetp. 265
18. USA Today and TV Guidep. 279
19. The Geezer and the Kidsp. 293
20. Last Word, and the Towersp. 309
Acknowledgmentsp. 321
Indexp. 323