In the early sixties, in the heyday of group journalism, I spent a year as one of the writers in Time Edit. I’d previously spent a year as a reporter (or “correspondent,” as the masthead had it) in the Atlanta bureau, covering the civil rights struggle in the South, and six months in the New York bureau—a misfit operation in the group-journalism scheme of things, staffed by two or three reporters who sometimes compared themselves to Transit Authority policemen assigned to the tunnels. For half of that year in Time Edit, I was what we called a floater—a utility infielder who was brought in to a section when, say, the person who wrote Sport was home with the flu, or when one of the World writers was on vacation. Since writers were listed on the masthead as associate or assistant editors, I’ve assumed ever since that I could justifiably refer to myself, on occasions when credentials are called out to add weight to a point of view, as the former Art editor of Time (four or five weeks, at various times) or even the former Medicine editor of Time (two consecutive weeks, although I must admit that the section was killed both weeks).
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