What you see at right is an editor caught in the act of being intrigued. The woman is Pia Zadora. The man is Senior Editor James Seymore, who is in charge of PEOPLE’S TV and movie coverage and helps pick our cover subjects. Pia didn’t make it.
PEOPLE has a goal—to bring you and the 43 million other readers of this issue “journalism as intriguing as the whole human race.” We coined that slogan in 1981, but for nine years now that has been the weekly job of the 200 people who produce PEOPLE. These uncelebrated professionals are as varied as the magazine itself. They include a onetime electrician, two salmon fishermen, a shoe salesman, a champion fencer and even a go-go dancer.
This year, with their help, we reported the news and we made news. In September PEOPLE assembled a staff of 100 to tell the tragic stories behind the statistics of handgun deaths in one 24-hour period. It was a strenuous undertaking, but the response from readers indicated that our point had been well made. In July our probe of medical malpractice revealed that a protective professional community was doing too little to police its own members. Soon after, a stalled investigation of a physician in Boston was renewed.
PEOPLE aims to give news a special perspective. Early this year Polish-born Krystyna Bittenek returned to her homeland posing as a tourist to report on life under martial law. Photojournalist Terry Smith flew 13 agonizing hours on a canvas seat in a frigid plane to bring out the first report for an American magazine on Falklands family life after the islands’ 74-day war. Associate Editor John Saar was twice dispatched to El Salvador to witness the violence and the pathos there. He rode with then President José Napoleón Duarte in his official “limousine”—an armored jeep stocked with machine guns.
PEOPLE strives to bring you the intimate, human details that make a story live. Henry Kissinger described for us the determination that brought him through heart surgery and was astounded by the on-the-street comments he received from PEOPLE readers. Comedienne Geri Jewell recounted, with infectious humor, the courageous ways she deals with cerebral palsy.
But 1982 had lighthearted moments too. We went in search of America’s premier pizza (sending Associate Editor Jeff Jarvis to eat 54 pizzas and gain eight pounds). Senior Writer Chet Flippo touched down on Grand Cayman with model Christie Brinkley (and found himself eating guacamole off her shin). Associate Editor Richard Oulahan got the cushiest job of all: sailing first-class on the QE2 on her return to civilian duty following the Falklands war. Oulahan was soon brought back to reality: He was sent to Denver to stand with the nation’s unemployed on a breadline.
How do all these stories get in the magazine? The trail begins with our 75 correspondents around the world, who transmit 10 million words a year to PEOPLE’S Manhattan headquarters. Among them is a former candidate for Governor of Louisiana, David Chandler, and Bess Truman’s nephew, David Wallace, who wrote a touching tribute to her.
Once a story comes into the building, it goes to a writer and an editor. What do they do when they get off work? What else? They write. Senior Writer Peter Carlson has a biography of labor militant Big Bill Haywood coming out next April. The title: Roughneck. Senior Editor Christopher Andersen’s fourth book, about father-child relationships, will appear in the fall. And Assistant Managing Editor Landon Jones was nominated for an American Book Award last winter for his biography of the baby boom generation, Great Expectations.
Next, a researcher checks the facts in each story. Among their number is Gay Daly, a Ph.D. in English who’s working on a heady biography of the exotically beautiful women in Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Then the story goes through a grammar exam under the red pencil of copy editors like Patricia Roberts, whose first novel, Tender Prey, will be an August Literary Guild selection from Doubleday, and Peter Rugile, who produced the disco hit Shoot Me With Your Love.
Meanwhile, melding pictures to prose is an art staff that includes Bernard Waber, known to millions of kids as the creator of 25 children’s books (his latest: Bernard).
With another year’s work behind us, I would like to raise a toast of thanks to all the PEOPLE people, and wish you, our readers, joy this holiday season.