THANKS A BILLION
PEOPLE was the first of its kind when it arrived on newsstands a decade ago. Inside was an eclectic mix of stories, a mélange we maintain still as we report on show business and sports, music and Main Street, politics and parties, plus art, books, crime, discoveries and more. What these stories have in common is as obvious as the name of the magazine: people. Each week we go home with newsmakers and interview them in their kitchens, out jogging, in their hot tubs and sometimes even in bed (see page 152). We have in a sense created, or reinvented, a kind of journalism that seeks primarily to inform but also to entertain and touch our readers—sometimes with a sassy phrase, sometimes with a poignant profile.
Tom Wolfe labeled the ’70s the Me Decade. But as PEOPLE’S first managing editor, Dick Stolley, says, it was the You Decade. People were interested in other people, in what made them succeed (and fail), in their profound thoughts and trivial pursuits. A magazine called PEOPLE was first proposed in 1935. TIME founder Henry Luce judged that it was a magazine whose moment had not come. But 1974 was the moment. There was profound social change in the country, an exciting but uneasy search for new directions. This led individuals to talk with surprising candor about their lives and loves, their ideas and ideals.
After only 18 months, guided by Stolley and founding publisher Dick Durrell, PEOPLE was a popular success. Today among magazines it ranks second in newsstand sales, third in readership (with 22 million adults and seven million teenagers each week) and fifth in circulation and advertising revenue. Our approach to personalities has been copied on television and by virtually every major newspaper in the U.S. Though the magazine is distributed only in North America, it has an audience abroad as well. Last December Beijing’s China Daily quoted our story about writer Ding Ling, and just last month Pravda commented acidly on PEOPLE’S latest interview with President Reagan.
Columnist Joseph Kraft recently listed PEOPLE as one of the 10 top American institutions, among the likes of Harvard, McDonald’s and IBM. Kraft explained that each of these could be counted on to deliver what it promised. To our readers, who have bought a billion copies of PEOPLE in our first 10 years, we promise to keep on delivering.