PM

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PM was an afternoon tabloid published between 1940 and 1948 by Ralph Ingersoll. A unique effort to revise what people had come to expect from a newspaper, PM took a fresh approach from first to last.

Ingersoll had conceived the idea for PM while managing editor of Time-Life publications, where he had come up with the editorial formula that was responsible for Fortune magazine’s success. Approaching his fortieth birthday with the feeling that everything he was doing he had done before, Ingersoll began to ponder the functions of a daily newspaper in a world where radio (and eventually television) could deliver the facts faster. From these ruminations came PM.

The paper was funded by Marshall Field.[1]

Communist "Mecca"

According to PM staffer and former communist James Wechsler "in the months that preceded publication, PM became the mecca for every communist and fellow traveler journalist within traveling distance of New York. An incredible proportion of them got on the payroll". A document "Communists on PM" circulated around other newsrooms in New York, named 22 PM staffers - 13 as Communist Party members and 9 as communist sympathizers.[2]

Penn Kimball worked briefly at PM magazine, where he chaired the Newspaper Guild grievance committee. When he sought a State Department job after 3 and a half years as a Marine in WW2, he discovered that he had been classified by the Department in 1946 as a "dangerous national security risk". [3]

Anti fascists

Although every member of PM’s staff was profoundly anti-Hitler, the staff was divided into two cliques: the liberals who regarded the Soviet Union as a slave state, devoid of individual rights, and the liberals who regarded the Soviet Union as a living demonstration of a truly humane society. PM’s readers could usually distinguish the news written by either of the two sides.

The late 1930s and the early 1940s were the years when American labor was just beginning to win the right to unionize and bargain collectively, and PM devoted almost six pages every day to news of the American labor front. Leo Huberman, a communist sympathizer, was editor of the labor news, and for a year and a half the paper argued that American workers were entitled to more money and better terms without worrying over whether strikes would help the fascists. But after the German invasion of Russia in July 1941, the party and its sympathizers in the press put labor’s problems on the back shelf, and urged full production to give the Russians some relief.[4]

Writers

PM's sports section headlined two of the city’s best sports writers, Tom Meany and Tom O’Reilly. George F. T. Ryall covered horse racing. Louis Kronenberger, whom many considered the best critic in the city, covered the theater. Elizabeth Hawes, a fashion designer, wrote on fashion; her sister, Charlotte Adams, covered food.

At one time or another articles appeared in PM by Erskine Caldwell; McGeorge Bundy, whose work appeared soon after his graduation from college; James Wechsler, who ultimately became the paper’s editorialist; Penn Kimball, later dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism; Heywood Hale Broun; James Thurber; Dorothy Parker; Ernest Hemingway; I. F. Stone; Eugene Lyons, a onetime communist who devoted himself to exposing communists; Ben Stolberg; and Malcolm Cowley, who wrote a serious attack on the lack of class consciousness in Kronenberger’s reviews. Ben Hecht wrote a more or less regular column that purported to be about New York, but was mainly about the colorful and interesting personalities he encountered.[5]

References

  1. City Journal, Summer 1993 PM: New York's Highbrow Tabloid, Roger Starr
  2. CBS's Don Hollenbeck: an honest reporter in the age of McCarthyism, By Loren Ghiglione, page 48]
  3. CBS's Don Hollenbeck: an honest reporter in the age of McCarthyism, By Loren Ghiglione, page 51]
  4. City Journal, Summer 1993 PM: New York's Highbrow Tabloid, Roger Starr
  5. City Journal, Summer 1993 PM: New York's Highbrow Tabloid, Roger Starr