I am throughly enjoying David Halberstam’s book, The Powers That Be, focusing on the successes and failures of CBS Television, Time magazine, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, Halberstam paints a portrait of the era when large, powerful mainstream media sources emerged as a force, showing how they shifted from simply reporting the news to becoming a part of it. By examining landmark events such as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s masterful use of the radio and the unprecedented coverage of the Watergate break-in, Halberstam demonstrates how print and broadcast media as a whole became a player in society and helped shape public policy.
In 1936, Time publisher Henry Luce bought Life, only wanting its title: he greatly re-made the publication. Life (now stylized in all caps) became the first all-photographic American news magazine, and it dominated the market for several decades, with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week at one point. Possibly the best-known image published in the magazine was Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph of a nurse in a sailor’s arms, taken on August 14, 1945 during a VJ-Day celebration in New York’s Times Square. The magazine’s role in the history of photojournalism is considered its most important contribution to publishing. Its profile was such that the memoirs of President Harry S. Truman, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and General Douglas MacArthur were all serialized in its pages.
I remember well the magazines that Henry Luce created. I can see my mother reading Sports Illustrated always with admiration for the writing. Life Magazine, with its photos opened up a world I was discovering. I could write more about the book, but the purpose for this blog post is a Life Magazine approach to tell a story with photographs. Photos of Rocky Mount residential architecture; stars in Rocky Mount’s crown.
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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