You may wonder how this magazine chooses opening stories in the issue each week. And well you might, since in recent months those articles have dealt with rape, national-anthem singers, weddings, famine and a duck threatened with eviction from its Illinois home. News, variety and good photographs are highly prized ingredients in planning the UP FRONT section.
What is consistent in the eclectic mix is the team of writers, reporters and researchers who produce the material, working under Senior Editor James Seymore, 42, and Associate Editor John Saar, 46. Articles by these staffers often spill over into other sections of the magazine. This week, for instance, a report on the U.S. Navy spy scandal appears under KIN (p. 55), and the story of how a $659 ashtray caused a highly distinguished combat admiral to be relieved of his command is told in LOSERS (p. 92). A major reporting effort was turned in by Writer-at-Large Michael Ryan, whose interview with Alexander von Auersperg and Ala Kneissl, stepchildren of Claus von Bülow, accused of trying to murder his wife, provides insights into the sundering of a family that seemed to have everything (see COVER, p. 108).
And then there is a subject that by its very gravity and importance demands attention—AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), the deadly disease that threatens to become a national plague (p. 42). To assemble material for the eight-page lead, a dozen correspondents in New York, Washington, Chicago, Palm Beach, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Los Angeles were queried. Assisting Seymore and Saar in preparing the report, as well as the other stories, were writers Alan Richman, Peter Carlson, William Plummer, Montgomery Brower, reporters Denise Lynch, Ann Guerin, Jane Sugden, Kimberly Hubbard and photo researcher Wendy Speight.
Seymore, a Princeton graduate (’66) and licensed private pilot, joined PEOPLE in 1977 after stints as night city editor on Virginia’s Richmond Times-Dispatch and as an editor at Washingtonian magazine. He often finds the hours long but relishes the impact that a PEOPLE news feature can have. One sign is that so far in 1985, 10 of his section’s stories have been sought by TV networks or Hollywood studios. “We look for a mix of known and unknown people,” says Seymore, “but they all must have one thing in common. They must have compelling stories.”