American History

Party like it's 1999!

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Cravat-clad music icon Prince was not the only one celebrating 1999. Janet Ward, then editor of American City & County, was hosting her own party – for the 90th anniversary of the magazine.

Established in 1909 as The American City (“County” was not added until the 1970s), early issues broke what, by the 1990s at least, were considered political and journalistic norms. As Ward points out, modern American City & County readership counted on short news “leads,” articles about limiting government size and advertisements for the latest in government-oriented technologies; however, pre-World War I subscribers often found themselves reading miles-long leads, articles begging for increased government intervention and advertisements for everything from hotel recommendations to “crude oil” tonics for hair loss.

But whether the leads are short and snappy or long and lugubrious – whether readership wants more government or less – whether ad space goes to wastewater management or snakeoil science – one thing hasn’t changed: In 1999, Ward made what she called “the most important observation” – a statement that applies to every contributor in the 100+ year history of the publication.

“I’m proud to be part of this magazine,” she said.
Hey Ms. Ward? Guess what? I am too.

—Erin Greer

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Mar 2, 2015

I do not think I ever encouraged short news “leads,” articles about limiting government size. I think you may have misread something I wrote. I have never been a fan of "short news leads" or of anything regarding limiting government size.You may have been quoting a quote I put in one of my articles.
Janet Ward

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What's American History?

It highlights the development of U.S. local and state government.

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Erin Greer

While most journalism graduates would jump at a chance to chase down the latest story, Erin Greer ran, screaming, from the opportunity. A long-time performer and PR professional, Erin was used to...
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