According to David Halberstam’s The Powers That Be book, in the early 1940s Time magazine:
“did not hire Jews. Jews were very much a they, they were not yet in the mainstream of American letters, let alone Luceian letters; indeed, for another fifteen years it would be difficult for Jews to join the foreign staff of Time. They could be hired and they could work as stringers, but whether they could go on the masthead if their names were too Semitic was another thing. For the Luce publications, like Luce in those early days, were Waspy and old-school; until the very end of his life Luce was still capable of turning to a Jewish editor and asking, `And what do our Jewish friends think of that?’”
Luce’s Time Inc. employment police in relation to African-American and women journalists also left much to be desired in the 1950s and 1960s. As late as seven years after the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawed legal segregation, for instance, only about 2 percent of all employees at Time Inc. were African-American and not one of the 50 African-American employees at Time Inc. held a major editorial job. The Black Media Committee criticized a special 1970 Time magazine issue on “Black America” by describing it as “a ghettoized supplement.” As late as the early 1970s, African-Americans held only 1 percent of the jobs at Fortune magazine, only 2.5 percent of the jobs at Life magazine and Sports Illustrated and only 4 percent of the jobs at Time magazine.
In 1970 Time magazine’s research chief, Marylois Vega, had also confessed: “Any fair observer of Time over the past 25 years would admit that there has been a prejudice against women in the editorial department of this magazine…” Time Inc.’s practice since the 1920s had been to track the women it hired into the lower-paying clerical, secretarial and researcher jobs and to reserve the higher-paying writer or editor slots for the men it hired. Time magazine’s editor-in-chief in 1979, Henry Grunwald, had said in 1969: “I must add in candor that I have not met many women who seem to have the physical and mental energy required for Time senior editing.”
One-hundred-and-forty-seven women members of Time Inc.’s editorial staff subsequently signed a formal complaint of sex discrimination by Time Inc. management which was presented to the New York State Division of Human Rights. On May 4, 1970, New York State Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz filed the complaint which specifically charged Time, Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Time-Life Books with sex discrimination. The New York Civil Rights Bureau Chief also charged Time Inc. management with gender discrimination.
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