Skip to content

NYT Week In Review, In Review

June 19, 2011

Coming next week.  First, however, take a look back……

When readers opened their New York Times on Sunday, Jan. 27, 1935, they discovered the debut of The News of the Week in Review. Snaking along seven columns of a very gray first page were short items, a few paragraphs each, of unsigned, backstage perspective on the events of the previous week.

The first entry was an account of wrangling between Franklin D. Roosevelt and House Democrats for control (and thus pork-barreling rights) over the president’s $4.8 billion work relief program. The anonymous author seemed to relish his cheeky, slightly un-Timesean kicker, which quoted a Republican on the state of the House: “a supine, subservient, soporific, superfluous, supercilious, pusillanimous body of nitwits.”

Over the ensuing three-quarters of a century, the name has been shortened (to The Week in Review in 1967; to Week in Review, no “The,” in 1994). Those digest items grew into essays and acquired bylines. Designers using photos and graphics and cartoons and creative typography made the section easier on the eye. But the Review remained a place where a writer could do something a little different from the daily news report.

The writers — reporters and news editors, mostly — developed a form that was more analytical and less formulaic than the just-the-facts reports in the rest of the paper, but distinct from the more polemical writing of the opinion pages — the editorials, columnists and invited advocates sequestered in the back pages, after a wall of advertising. The Review proved successful enough to win a special Pulitzer citation in 1953 for providing “enlightenment and intelligent commentary.”

Next Sunday, the Week in Review will make another evolutionary leap. The name will be shortened yet again to Sunday Review, the last vestiges of a weekly summing up replaced by a more general timeliness, and that dividing wall breached, so that argument (which will be labeled Opinion) can appear alongside explanation (which will be labeled News Analysis.)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: