To Take Away the Lollipops of Self Delusion

A related point, and one which I don’t believe I’ve heard discussed among us enough, is that while our competitors in mass communications are mostly in an all-out popularity contest, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING feels called upon fairly frequently to chide some portion of the public, or take away some comforting belief in magic, or directly alienate some sizable group of the misguided.

Television, I suppose, would present the outstanding contrast: Almost all of its offering is predicated upon a least-common-denominator approach, and whenever by inadvertence or the rashness of some momentarily unfettered creative individual it offends even the tiniest fringe group, the entire industry conspires to maintain it could only have been a misunderstanding —or a mistake which will be rectified instantly. Newspapers, by and large, have lost the individuality of attitude which made some of them great and most of them distinguishable from each other. In the same way, many magazines — including the two others in what advertisers insist upon referring to as “our field”—have mostly embarked upon efforts to please and please and please.

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, on the other hand, has for at least fifty years considered it part of its own mission to rub readers’ noses in reality; to take away the lollipops and crutches of self-delusion; to attack, not the man-eating shark or sin itself, with everyone clucking empty pieties together, but the mighty and plausible and significantly damaging beliefs and agencies and persons—those with facilities to hit back, or adherents who can retaliate against us.

This means that in some regards ours is a harder row to hoe; we feel it is also a better one.

The above is an excerpt from an internal memorandum dated March 19, 1961, from Editor Wade Nichols to the editorial and advertising staffs of Good Housekeeping. Its purpose zvas to restate the basic editorial platform of the magazine. Good Housekeeping feels it provides an insight. possibly of public interest, into the magazine’s continuing editorial policies and functions as interpreted by its editor.