1940-2014: Michael Janeway, former editor of The Boston Globe, The Atlantic Monthly

The Boston Globe | The Atlantic

Michael Janeway, former editor of The Boston Globe and executive editor of The Atlantic Monthly, died Thursday at his home in Lakeville, Conn., at age 73.

The Globe’s Joseph P. Kahn quoted author Todd Gitlin on Janeway’s career:

“When Mike saw journalism slipping off the edge into inconsequence or superficiality, he was on the case,” Gitlin said. “He recognized it was a matter of moment to the political life of democracy. I see him as a standard-bearer for professional journalism, a connoisseur of the nobility of intellectual life and journalism’s responsibility to honor it.”


James Fallows wrote in a tribune for The Atlantic:

Mike Janeway is known in journalism for a series of influential roles: at the Globe, where he fostered talent and invented or revitalized sections before a stormy period as head editor; then as a book editor at Houghton Mifflin; then as dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, where he foresaw and discussed many of the trends all of journalism is now coping with; then as a professor at Columbia Journalism School; and as an author, including of a history-memoir of the New Deal-and-afterwards policy intelligentsia.

Janeway was born in 1940 to economist Eliot Janeway and novelist Elizabeth Janeway. He graduated from Harvard in 1962, and worked briefly at Newsday, Newsweek and The New Leader Magazine. He joined The Atlantic Monthly in 1967, rising to executive editor, and served as a special assistant to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance during President Jimmy Carter’s administration. He joined the Globe in 1978.

The Globe’s Joseph P. Kahn said Janeway was credited with several achievements at the newspaper, including a Pulitzer Prize won by a team he led that produced a special section on the nuclear arms race. But as successor to long-time editor Thomas Winship, Janeway’s tenure went less well, Kahn wrote: “For Mr. Janeway, often described as aloof and cerebral, an ‘outsider’ in an old-school newsroom culture, the challenge proved formidable.”

He left the Globe in 1986, was named an editor at Houghton Mifflin, and eventually served as dean of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism from 1989 to 1997. He went on to Columbia University to teach and run a program on cultural and arts reporting, retiring in 2011. He edited and contributed to several books on politics, the press and international affairs, including “The Republic of Denial: Press, Politics, and Public Life.”

Fallows said: “I am sorry that I did not think to tell him directly how much he had meant to his profession, and to this magazine, and to me, but I wanted to say it to his family members now.”

Janeway is survived by his wife, Barbara Matlby, children from his first marriage, stepchildren, and a brother, among other family members. A memorial service is planned later this year.

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