“Where political careers are built on favors and rewards, recriminations and reprisals, it is natural that the political career should attach only secondary importance to the merits of issues.”
I don’t just create magazines. I also collect old ones, and for many reasons.
For starters, a lot of people put hundreds of hours of work into some of these pubs. A dusty issue of The Nation, or the Boston Phoenix, or even a shameless rag like Maxim can be a fantastic throwback design specimen, if not a critical editorial resource and portal.
Having published in various mediums myself, I know first-hand the hierarchy of the written word. Inform someone that you have a new book out, and they say, Oh, I absolutely must read it. They rarely mean it, but at least they have the decency to pretend.
Tell a stranger or even a relative that you published in a newspaper or magazine, however, and witness indifference incarnate. It’s not like you emailed them a link to a blog post you wrote which they can simply ignore; rather, some friends may even grow angry in response to the print proposition, like you’re assigning them homework. And in a way I am. So I apologize for that, but I swear I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t truly believe that the Dig is worth consuming, or if our crew didn’t grind to produce a compelling IRL product (in addition to our online reporting), or if I didn’t pay the same respect to other writers. Which brings me back to those old magazines …
More than anything else, besides having much love for stiff and buried journalists, I obsess over yellow pages because they offer a deeper truth about the world, including the state of disparity around here. And so with a heated local election season upon us, I thought this excerpt from the 1961 Atlantic essay, Poisoned Politics: The Real Tragedy of Massachusetts, by former US attorney for Mass Elliot L. Richardson was appropriate:
Where political careers are built on favors and rewards, recriminations and reprisals, it is natural that the political career should attach only secondary importance to the merits of issues. Instead of expertness in municipal finance or public transportation, he is more apt to acquire expertness in determining whether a given back calls for scratching or the knife.
And, Corruption is a weed that grows naturally in such an atmosphere. Where things are done for the wrong reasons that are not unproper or unlawful, it is easy to do them for the wrong reasons that are both improper and unlawful. The lines are blurred between the reward of loyalty, the return of a favor, and the exaction of a quid pro quo. If nobody complains, or even seems surprised, when official action is used to help friends or hurt enemies, nobody is likely to notice when it is turned to the service of personal gain.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF