December 24 – Isidor Feinstein Stone

Happy Birthday Izzy Stone!

I.F. Stone

Isidor Feinstein Stone, born December 24, 1907 – journalist, newsletter publisher – I.F. Stone’s Weekly (newsletter)

Read I.F. Stone’s biography here and here

Read Stone’s autobiographical essay:

[In 1953] I decided to launch a four-page weekly newsletter of my own.  For a remarkably small investment, in two advance mailings, I was able to get 5,000 subscribers at $5.00 each. I was my own biggest investor, but several friends helped me with loans and gifts. The existence of these highly selective mailing lists made it possible to reach what would otherwise appear to be needles in a haystack—a scattered tiny minority of liberals and radicals unafraid in McCarthy’s heyday to support, and go on the mailing lists of, a new radical publication from Washington.

My idea was to make the Weekly radical in viewpoint but conservative in format. I picked a beautiful type face, Garamond, for my main body type, and eschewed sensational headlines. I also sought to give the Weekly a personal flavor to add humor wit and good writing to the Weekly report. I felt that if one were able enough and had sufficient vision one could distill meaning, truth and even beauty from the swiftly flowing debris of the week’s news. I sought in political reporting what Galsworthy in another context called “the significant trifle”—the bit of dialogue, the overlooked fact, the buried observation which illuminated the realities of the situation.

In the worst days of the witch hunt and cold war, I felt like a guerilla warrior, swooping down in surprise attack on a stuffy bureaucracy where it least expected independent inquiry. The bureaucracies put out so much that they cannot help letting the truth slip from time to time. The town is open. One can always ask questions, as one can see from one of my “coups”—forcing the Atomic Energy Commission to admit that its first underground test was detected not 200 miles away—as it claimed—but 2600 miles away.

The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. It is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news.Their main concern is advertising. The main interest of our society is merchandising. All the so-called communications industries are primarily concerned not with communications, but with selling.

In the darkest days of McCarthy, when I often was made to feel a pariah, I was heartened by the thought that I was preserving and carrying forward the best in America’s traditions, that in my humble way I stood in a line that reached back to Jefferson.

Excerpt from:

Watch a 1973 interview of Izzy Stone

“People are led to do evil in spite of themselves by the nature of the institutions in which they are trapped.” (Minute 5:10)

Watch a 1973 documentary about I.F. Stone’s Weekly

[At minute 33:37 Carl Bernstein says anybody who goes into investigative reporting can’t help but be influenced by Stone and his newsletter.]

Watch a CSpan roundtable discussion of Stone in honor of his 100th birthday (aired in 2008)

Public Interest founder and former reporter for I.F. Stone’s Weekly Peter Osnos said at minute 28:30:
“Izzy was someone whose belief in a story was matched by the integrity and the passion of his values.”


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