Archive for the ‘Blog Stuff’ Category

This week, the New York Times Magazine became ‘Book Review and Magazine’

100 years ago this week, the New York Times combined their previously-separate Magazine and Book Review sections into one larger section on Sundays. If any history buffs or NYT aficionados know why they made this change, please feel free to comment below or send me a message. The Times didn’t seem to explain why anywhere else in the Sunday, June 27, 1920 issue, so far as I can find.

The two sections are distinct these days, so at some point in the past century they were separated once again. I’m not easily finding a record of when that occurred. For all I know, it might have been years or even decades after the 1920 merger.

In the name of consistency, I’m going to continue posting only the most interesting magazine features from 100 years ago to the week, and not the book reviews. There’s a reason this website isn’t titled!

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

June 26th, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Blog Stuff will take three weeks off, because NYT Sunday Magazine did the same in February-March 1920

On February 21, 1920, New York Times readers were greeted with this message:


The magazine’s hiatus didn’t last too long, only three weeks, returning on March 7. Albeit in a diminished form, as the editors warned, with fewer articles than before.

Coming exactly 100 years ago to the week that America’s second-largest newspaper chain McClatchy filed for bankruptcy, it’s a reminder that America’s newspaper industry has often seemed down — but it’s never been out. No, not even in the 2010s and 2020s.

In fact, during the past few years, the largest increase in newspaper and magazine print subscriptions has actually been among Millennials. That left-leaning generation not only sees fact-checking and journalism as a bulwark against Trump and the right, but they’re often into pre-digital throwback technologies, responsible for the 14-consecutive-year increase in vinyl record sales. will resume the week of March 7.

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

February 18th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Blog Stuff will take four months off, because NYT Sunday Magazine did the same in late 1918

Earlier this month, I noticed that the New York Times issues 100 years ago to the week no longer seemed to include a Sunday magazine section. Since the whole premise of this website is to analyze those magazine articles with some historical context and/or contemporary commentary, this presented a problem for me and my readers.

Skipping ahead in the archive, I discovered the answer in the Sunday, January 3, 1919 issue: the magazine section had ceased for four months due to a lack of paper as a result of wartime shortages.

A somewhat-similar situation occurred just a few weeks ago; though it did not involve shortages or war, it did involve an issue with newsprint that proved potentially existential to the newspaper coverage.

The Trump Administration’s Commerce Department announced intended tariffs on Canadian newsprint, the main source of paper for American newspapers — including state and local publications. Some newspapers with the narrowest profit margins even felt such tariffs could put their publications out of business. However, a unanimous 5-0 decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission halted the proposed tariffs in August.

Here is the full January 1919 retroactive announcement, in an article titled The Sunday Magazine Again.

When the conditions of war limited the supply of newsprint paper at the end of last Summer, The New York Times met the situation by a reduction of consumption. Among the changes found necessary was the suspension of the Sunday Magazine Section on Sept. 1.

While that part of the Sunday edition had won a high place in the esteem of our readers, especially in the period during which it had been printed and illustrated by the decorative rotogravure process, it had to give way temporarily; the wartime allowance of paper was not sufficient for the urgent news of the day and the full quota of the Sunday special features at the same time.

The paper scarcity has been relieved with the ending of the war conditions, and after a lapse of four months the Magazine Section will reappear next Sunday.


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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

September 15th, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Blog Stuff

My column in the Daily Beast: “Not Much Passes the 100-Year Test. Will Trump?”

In my time running, it’s become increasingly apparent to me and my readers just how few of the most prominent people, places, and things from 100 years ago are still well remembered tgoday.

What does this insight reveal about who and what from this era might still be well remembered 100 years from now?

My prediction: despite how big the biggest people, places, and things seem to us at the moment, almost nothing and nobody lasts 100 years in the public’s consciousness.

Will Trump? Will Obama? Will 9/11? Will today’s technology? What about the biggest movies or songs?

I tackle these questions in my new opinion column for the Daily Beast: “Not Much Passes the 100-Year Test. Will Trump?”


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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

June 4th, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Blog Stuff

How much WWI took over everyone’s lives

American entry into World War I “started” 100 years ago plus a few months ago, in April 1917. One thing that’s really striking to me is just how much it overtook everything about people’s lives. In working on this week’s entries for Sunday Magazine, here were the magazine headlines from New York Times Sunday Magazine 100 years ago this week, a relatively “typical” week of the conflict:

  • New Board of Seven: Frank A. Scott, Chairman, Talks of His Committee—Second Great Industrial Phase of War Task
  • Realistic Training at Base Camp Near Front: Outline of British Methods Shows How the American Soldiers Are Being Taught—Trenches Flooded With Gas for Practice
  • Kerensky’s Intimate Talks to Men at the Front: Weak-Kneed Soldier, Who Interrupted Him with Plea for Speedy Peace, Was Ordered to Go Home in Disgrace
  • Labor’s Part in War’s Successful Prosecution: True Source of Military Power Is United Energy of a Nation’s People, Yet the Whole World Is Continuing Class Struggles Labor’s Part in War’s Successful Prosecution
  • Allied Relief and Rid Cross Near Agreement: Expect Soon to Smooth Over Difficulties Created by Plan to Take from Donations to War Sufferers Their Individual Character
  • Battling an Africa Far from War’s Limelight: How a Plucky Band of Englishmen Hauled Boats Over Mountains and Wrested Control of Lake Tanganyika from Germans
  • America Reconciled to Sacrifices of the War: History Teaches Lesson That Individuals Do Not Count—Victory Over Germany Will Be a Mere Incident in Uplifting the World
  • Mayor’s Grandfather Prophesied This War When Germans Were Winning in 1870-71
  • History of the War in American Cartoons: Art at Home and Abroad
  • Women Striving for Efficiency in War Work: Ida Tarbell, of Woman’s Committee of Council of National Defense, Describes Co-ordination in Work of Many Organizations
  • Sailor Tells of U.S. Fleet’s Brush with U-Boat: First Torpedo, Which Missed American Ship Only Thirty Yards, Was Followed by Two Others While the Deck Guns Boomed
  • Women at the Beaches Only Knit, Knit, Knit: Other Pleasures and Labors Are Abandoned for the Wartime Craze, Which Reaches Its Climax at Atlantic City
Even the article about knitting contained a subheading tying it into the war!
My grandparents talk about WWII just consumed everything about their lives. It’s fascinating to me just how all-consuming a true all-out war can be. Let us hope we never see one again.

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 6th, 2017 at 10:06 am

Posted in Blog Stuff

Sunday Magazine has resumed after a nearly five-year hiatus!

David Friedman created this website in March 2010 and ran it until September 2011 until he had a child and couldn’t keep this up with his busy schedule anymore. I’m not David Friedman. I’m Jesse Rifkin and I have David’s permission to take over this blog for a while, posting every week with interesting articles published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine section from precisely 100 years ago to the week.

Sometimes the articles will be serious, sometimes they’ll be funny, sometimes they’ll be strange, sometimes they’ll be nostalgic, but they’ll always be fascinating and engaging. I’ll try to post only the most interesting content with some context, modern parallels, and maybe an occasional aside or two from my own life. And I’ll try to do as good a job with this website as my predecessor David did — if that’s possible.

A quick bit about me. I’m a 24-year-old journalist living in Washington, D.C., where I work as a congressional reporter for GovTrack Insider and a box office analyst for Boxoffice Media. You can read a fun Daily Beast article I published from just earlier this week in which I interviewed the country’s top Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders impersonators.

So come along with me as we crank up the time machine, push the DeLorean to 88 miles per hour, and take a trip back every week to what made the “newspaper of record” a century ago. Let’s begin… again!

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

June 24th, 2016 at 9:05 am

Posted in Blog Stuff Is Going On Hiatus

Hi, everyone. I’m afraid I have some bad news: is going on hiatus.

The time requirements to maintain all my projects and take care of my new child have spread me a little too thin, so I had to pick something to take a break from, and SundayMagazine lost the coin toss.

If anyone out there has a similar passion for the work I’ve been doing here, and wants to pitch in to research, prep the graphics, and/or write the posts, let me know. Maybe there’s a way I can hand the reigns over or collaborate and keep the site going.

If not, let’s just consider it hibernating for now. I’ll keep the archives up; there’s some good stuff in there to explore if you came to the blog late.

Thanks everyone for reading.

Aside: to make up for this loss, I hope to get back to updating Ironic Sans more often than I have been lately. I have a backlog of posts to write there.


Written by David

September 26th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Blog Stuff

Important Note About’s Future

I have two important notes about this blog’s future.

1) Due to a minor change in the RSS feed, some of you who read this blog via RSS may need to resubscribe. If you are currently subscribed to the feed at please redirect your RSS Reader to or just click here. The old feed will not work for much longer.

2) I’m expecting a baby in the very near future, and won’t have as much time for as I used to. I’ll be queuing up as many articles to post as I can for paternity leave, but I won’t be able to write as much about each one. Some may have to be just a sentence or less. Please feel free to pick up the slack by adding your own comments on the articles.

Thanks for reading!


Written by David

May 2nd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Blog Stuff

SundayMagazine on

I wrote a piece about SundayMagazine for that just went online today. If you’re discovering this site for the first time via Slate, welcome! A good place to start is with my roundup of favorite articles from 1910. If you’re a regular reader who’s never read Slate, start with my article!

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Written by David

March 30th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Blog Stuff

Mixing things up a little

Based on feedback I’ve received from readers, I’m going to experiment a little bit over the next few weeks with the timing of posts. When an issue of the Sunday Magazine has several especially interesting or long articles, or when there are just a lot of articles to publish that week, I will post some of them early instead of lumping them all together on Fridays.

So keep an eye out for two articles today. One is about the development of a city landmark, and one is a true crime murder mystery.

Two more articles will go up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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Written by David

January 13th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in Blog Stuff