Channeling Harold Hayes

The reader demands more than a mirror. The reader wants to be surprised, entertained, challenged, informed, tantalized, even seduced. This takes sophisticated editorial skills, imaginative narrative strategies. The fact is, the best editor is his own average reader, someone savvy enough to live under the skin of the times. What excites such an editor (if he or she is any good) excites the reader by definition. This is what used to be called “editorial vision.”

Harold believed a magazine was defined by the wit and power of its  editorial voice. He resisted the market rule that says a magazine should seek a tight concept that subtly erases the boundaries between advertising and editorial in order to pitch directly to the lifestyle of the core demographic.

“You can’t run a magazine or a country with surveys,” Harold grumbled over the meatloaf. And for a moment we both felt Western civilization descend to hell with fanfare of trumpets and spreadsheets. Thank god the waiter arrived with the Cabernet. Lunch, if not life, was back on course.

—From the Afterword, by Tom Hedley, to the book, It Wasn’t Pretty, Folks, But Didn’t We Have Fun, by Carol Polsgrove, about Esquire magazine in the 1960s when it was edited by Harold Hayes.

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