Certain aspects of writing for TIME magazine–which I did from 2010-2014–were spectacular. But it was the history and mystique that mattered as much as the day-to-day work, in part because Time Warner had pigeonholed the 21st-century Time Inc. as a print-media company in a way that was unhealthy for everyone involved. Though I never felt like I was employed by a concern that had figured out the internet, I loved working someplace that had mattered to so many people for so long. I’m just sorry that my TIME-obsessed Grandmother didn’t live to see my name on the masthead.
The company I worked at no longer exists; Meredith acquired it in January, instantly pulled down the Time Inc. sign at headquarters, and is now in the process of auctioning off Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and Money. But I still enjoy reading about the storied Time Inc. that I, as a tail-ender, never got to experience in the first place. And Sridhar Pappu and Jay Stone’s new oral history in the New York Times is a doozy full of details:
Early on, I recall a very formal luncheon inside the Time Inc building with Fidel Castro. I don’t think he ate a single bite of food or took one sip of water, but he told some amazing tales. Equally memorable, many years later, was a visit from Steve Jobs, when he handed us each an astonishing new device – the Ipad – which felt, that day, like a preview of our future. All of the titles had the power to draw attention from newsmakers, so you never knew who to expect.
I missed the era of Steve Jobs calling on TIME. But I did get to sit in on Tim Cook’s first visit. Like I said, working there could be spectacular.
The photos in the Times piece may be even better than the actual oral history–I got a little chill from the one depicting Henry Luce and JFK striding through the Time & Life Building in 1960.