A Matter Of Opinion
Review by Willard Manus
of opinion don't have many readers, but they make a difference, believes
Victor S. Navasky, author of A MATTER OF OPINION, a memoir of the years
he spent in the trenches, fighting to keep alive The Nation magazine.
The weekly was first published in 1865, when it supported the Abolitionist
cause in the battle over slavery, but despite its long, courageous history
the magazine never made money--not until Navasky became its editor/publisher
thirty years ago and came up with a business plan that put it in the black
(by a couple of hundred thousand dollars, petty cash for Time or Newsweek).
The same cannot be said for the U.S. government, fronted by the IRS. Apply for non-profit status and the IRS will crack down on a journal of opinion with a vengeance (especially if it's on the left). As one editor quoted by Navasky said, "if you are in the for-profit world you will be censored by corporations"--refusal to take out ads--"and if you work in the nonprofit world, you'll be censored by government."
There are many upsetting revelations like that in A MATTER OF OPINION, but there are also ample amusing and colorful stories, thanks to Navasky's warm and witty recollections of a life spent on the intellectual left. (Picador, $15 ppbk).