Journalist and Blogger Robert Stein Dies At 90

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Sad word came out today that journalist and blogger Robert Stein died earlier this week. The two of us have both blogged at one time or another at The Moderate Voice and The Democratic Daily. He is on the far left in the above picture (via The Moderate Voice), taken at an event with John F. Kennedy when Stein was editor of Redbook.  His final blog posts were entered on March 31 of this year. His son posted the following announcement today at Bob’s blog, Connecting the Dots:

Robert Stein: March 1924 – July 2014

My father Robert Stein passed away Wednesday morning July 9th at my Connecticut home under hospice care from kidney issues related to his several month battle with multiple myeloma cancer. All and all, it was blessing as he had spent the last month in the hospital and was adamant about wanting to die at home in his sleep which he did. Needless to say it’s been a grueling few months for our family but we are relieved that he did not suffer at the end.

As per his wishes we have no plans for services. I will post links to his obituaries as they are published. While we are fortunate that his eight years of blogging has served as a chronicle of his life, he also wrote several hundred pages of memoirs which I hope to post in the near future on this site along with some more photos for anyone interested.

My family would like to thank every one of his blog followers. He enjoyed writing immensely and greatly appreciated that he had faithful readers to inspire him in his 90s.

Following is from Bob’s information on himself from the blog:

Robert Stein, editor, publisher, media critic and journalism teacher, is a former Chairman of the American Society of Magazine Editors, and author of “Media Power: Who Is Shaping Your Picture of the World?” Before the war in Iraq, he wrote in The New York Times: “I see a generation gap in the debate over going to war in Iraq. Those of us who fought in World War II know there was no instant or easy glory in being part of ‘The Greatest Generation,’ just as we knew in the 1990s that stock-market booms don’t last forever. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to spare our children and grandchildren from being slaughtered by politicians with a video-game mentality.” This is not meant to extol geezer wisdom but suggest that, even in our age of 24/7 hot flashes, something can be said for perspective. The Web is a wide space for spreading news, but it can also be a deep well of collective memory to help us understand today’s world. In olden days, tribes kept village elders around to remind them with which foot to begin the ritual dance. Start the music.
Update: More at The New York Times

Robert Stein, who helped expand the scope of women’s magazines as editor in chief of McCall’s and Redbook in the early stages of the modern women’s movement, publishing articles about race and politics and introducing readers to the nascent writings of feminist leaders like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, died on July 9 in Westport, Conn. He was 90.

His son Keith said the cause was cancer.

Mr. Stein edited Redbook from 1958 to 1965, and ran its sister publication, McCall’s, in two stints, 1965 to 1967 and 1972 to 1986 — a three-decade period of radical change for women that coincided with a steady decline in circulation for women’s magazines.

Along with a handful of other innovative editors in women’s magazines, Mr. Stein sought to recover his audience by supplementing the traditional fare of dress patterns, consumer advice and dinner recipes with food for thought.

He led in-depth coverage of the civil rights movement in its early days, interviewed President John F. Kennedy on nuclear weapons, polled seminarians in 1961 on their religious beliefs (only 29 percent believed in an actual heaven and hell, the Redbook article said) and built star-studded stables of writers at McCall’s and Redbook.

Among them were Ms. Freidan and Ms. Steinem, as well as Margaret Mead, Rachel Carson, Harper Lee, Barbara Tuchman and Pauline Kael, whom he fired from McCall’s for unremittingly critical reviews of popular movies like “Born Free” and “The Sound of Music.”

“Women are interested in thinking — civil rights, peace,” Mr. Stein said in a 1966 interview with The Christian Science Monitor. “They are interested in people, but on a more sophisticated basis. They want substance they can relate to their own lives.”

As an associate editor at Redbook, he commissioned a profile of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1956, one of the first of the civil rights leader in a national publication.

Redbook became a showcase for columnists. (Dr. King contributed several columns in the 1960s.) Ms. Mead, the anthropologist, wrote about family life; Ms. Carson, the environmentalist, about pesticides in the food chain. To weigh in on child care, Dr. Benjamin Spock, the influential baby doctor, was hired away from Ladies’ Home Journal.

At McCall’s, besides hiring Ms. Kael to write about movies and Ms. Steinem to chronicle sexism in the world at large, he hired President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 22-year-old daughter, Lynda Bird Johnson, to write about “young Americans.” He published articles there on teenage pregnancy, birth control and breast cancer research, as well as fiction by writers like Anne Tyler and Kurt Vonnegut…

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