FINDING THE BOOK ( A.Woolcott: his life & his world)
Wolcott Gibbs (March 15, 1902 – August 16, 1958) was an American editor, humorist, theatre critic, playwright and author of short stories, who worked for The New Yorker magazine from 1927 until his death.
St. Clair McKelway (February 13, 1905 – January 10, 1980) was a writer and editor for The New Yorker magazine beginning in 1933.0
In his biography of Woolcott (A. Woollcott: His Life and His World, New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1945), Samuel Hopkins Adams, a journalist who knew both men fairly well, describes Ross’s editorial style:
His salient characteristic was a passion for facts. The slightest doubt on any point, however unimportant, roused him to marginal inquiry, often profane. He always numbered these comments and expected of his writers satisfactory replies corresponding to the numerals. On one three-part series, his final notation was numbered 147. This was approximately a question to every three sentences.
Out of this grew The New Yorker’s storied fact-checking process, one that continues to influence magazine reporting and that has even had an impact on how newspapers edit their stories today.
Ross did not edit Woollcott’s contributions himself, handing that thankless task over to one of the magaine’s senior editors, Katharine White, wife of writer E. B. White. After all:
Between Ross, with his sleuth-hound nose for facts and Woollcott, with his airy insensibility to such minor considerations, friction was bound to arise. One page particle brought eighteen factual queries from the editor, many of which the author could not satisfy without further research, which he was loath to incur
“The Forgotten Gibbs” by Robert Watts Lamon
From Alexander Woolcott to “Fake News by Aaron Barlow