Michael C. Janeway, a former editor of The Boston Globe and executive editor of The Atlantic Monthly who wrote two books chronicling what he saw as the intertwined decline of democracy and journalism in the United States, died on Thursday at his home in Lakeville, Conn. He was 73.
The cause was cancer, said his wife, Barbara Maltby.
Mr. Janeway joined The Globe in 1978 as the Sunday magazine editor and worked his way up the ranks during the end of the era of its influential and much-loved editor Thomas Winship. He served three years as managing editor before being appointed in 1985 to succeed Mr. Winship, who was retiring.
Mr. Janeway’s tenure was brief. His analytical style contrasted sharply with Mr. Winship’s hale-and-hearty approach to the newsroom. He encountered resistance from newsroom lieutenants who had been rivals for the top job. Mr. Janeway left the newspaper in 1986.
He was named dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., in 1989, and held that post until 1996, when he was named head of the arts journalism program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. At the same time, he began writing books.
The first, “Republic of Denial: Press, Politics, and Public Life” (1999), was a dark vision of a near future in which journalists and politicians, having lost touch with their essential roles as binders of the social fabric, help splinter society and promote its disintegration by pandering to people’s lowest instincts. The process of “public alienation from politics and government, and the erosion of optimism and belief in progress,” which was already underway, he wrote, amounted to “a contemporary democratic crisis.”
The second book, “The Fall of the House of Roosevelt: Brokers of Ideas and Power From FDR to LBJ,” published in 2004, measured some of the ideas in his first book against the history of the New Deal. It focused on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inner circle of advisers, a group of political operatives and thinkers often called Roosevelt’s “brain trust,” who helped conceive ideas like the minimum wage, Social Security and federal bank deposit insurance.
Source: The New York Times | PAUL VITELLO