THE masthead in this issue of The Atlantic Monthly is the first one in seventeen years that does not bear -- "boast" would be a better word -- the name James Fallows under the title Washington editor. Fallows this month becomes the editor of the newsmagazine . In terms of corporate taxonomy the move is a familial one: the owner and chairman of The Atlantic, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, is also the owner and editor-in-chief of U.S. News. Fallows's new position brings great editorial and administrative challenges. Perhaps just as daunting will be the necessary adjustments in the lifestyle of a long-standing writer, radio commentator, computer hacker, and tennis bum.
James Fallows's first article for The Atlantic, in 1975, was a biographical piece about Senator Lloyd Bentsen, of Texas, who at the time was also a plausible candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency -- part of a large pack that would ultimately be winnowed to Jimmy Carter. "I don't think I've ever been as excited by anything I've done in journalism as the first time I did a freelance piece for The Atlantic," Fallows recalls. "Having seen the magazine all my conscious life, I could hardly believe that my own name was in it." Fallows, a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar who had been an editor at The Washington Monthly and at Texas Monthly, went to work for candidate Carter as a speechwriter, and followed him to the White House. He was invited by Robert Manning, then the editor of The Atlantic, to join the staff in 1979. All told, Fallows has contributed almost 120 articles to The Atlantic. Some of them, such as "Defense, Taxes, and the Budget" (August, 1981), "Immigration" (November, 1983), "The Three Fiscal Crises" (September, 1985), and "Containing Japan" (May, 1989), have helped to shape debate that continues to this day over the future of national defense, over the uncontrolled growth of entitlements, over our trading relationships, over the very complexion of American society. Through it all he has written several books, most recently Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine Democracy (1996).
Fallows will continue to appear on our masthead, as a contributing editor, and thus we will continue to solicit his advice -- and, from time to time, his byline. -- THE EDITORS
The Atlantic Monthly; October 1996; 77 North Washington Street; Volume 278, No. 4; page 6.