July 21, 2014

Robert Stein, an editor at magazines such as McCall’s and Redbook, died last week at age 90. In its obituary, the Times points out that McCall’s (known as a “women’s magazine”) evolved rapidly under Stein’s innovative leadership: “He led in-depth coverage of the civil rights movement in its early days, interviewed President John F. Kennedy on nuclear weapons, polled seminarians in 1961 on their religious beliefs.” Stein brought a number of boldface names to his magazines: Gloria Steinam, Margaret Mead, Harper Lee, and Martin Luther King Jr. He not only hired Pauline Kael, but also fired her.

Judith Butler

Judith Butler

At the LRB, Judith Butler reviews a new book based on Jacques Derrida’s seminar on the death penalty.

The Times public editor Margaret Sullivan writes about The Upshot, the paper’s newish blog (which also appears in print) that uses Nate Silver–style number-crunching to convey “what the evidence tells us” about policy issues. But, Sullivan reports, some readers are confused and angry at the way the site sometimes blurs the line between reporting and opinion. Sullivan writes, “editors have some kinks to work out as the clear-cut boundaries long associated with print newspapers become murkier on the web. I would like to see its work better labeled and explained, especially in print. Transparency with readers, when it’s done with directness, is the answer to many new-media issues.”

At the New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson has posted a long-view analysis of the Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists. “One of the games being played in the region is an old and dangerous one: the proxy war. For a power that wants to meddle in another country, the great thing about fielding surrogates is that they give you deniability. The bad thing is that you can’t ever fully control them.”

“We get to see director’s cuts of our favorite movies. Why not an ‘author’s cut’ for books?”

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