Thursday, November 6, 2008

`Time' Magazine's `March of Time' Link In Great Depression--Part 1

After Time magazine began publishing its initial weekly issue in March 1923, its Big Media executives were able to increase the magazine’s circulation by utilizing U.S. radio and movie theatres around the world to promote both Time magazine and the politics of the special U.S. corporate interests which Time Inc. served. According to The March of Time, 1935-1951, “As early as 1924, former Time Inc. Vice-Chairman Roy Larsen had brought Time into the infant radio business with the broadcast of a 15-minute sustaining quiz show, entitled `Pop Question,’ which survived until 1925.” Then, according to the same book, ‘In 1928…Larsen undertook the weekly broadcast of a 10-minute program series of brief news summaries, drawn from current issues of Time magazine…which was originally broadcast over 33 stations throughout the United States.”

Time Inc. executives next arranged for a 30-minute radio program, titled The March of Time, to be broadcast over CBS radio, beginning on March 6, 1931. Each week, its The March of Time radio program presented a dramatization of the week’s news for its listeners. As a result of this radio program, Time magazine was brought “to the attention of millions previously unaware of its existence,” according to Time Inc.: The Intimate History Of A Publishing Enterprise 1923-1941, and this led to an increased circulation of the magazine during the 1930s. Between 1931 and 1937, The March of Time radio program was broadcast over CBS radio and between 1937 and 1945 it was broadcast over NBC radio—except for the 1939 to 1941 period when it was not aired.

In 1934, The March of Time Inc. film production corporation—separate from, but under the control and ownership of Time Inc.—was established. As president and treasurer of The March of Time Inc., former Time Inc. Vice-Chairman Larsen “chose subjects” and “assisted in the editing and in the marketing of the 13 two-reel issues of The March of Time” films issued each year, according to the 1950 edition of Current Biography. A then-35-year-old filmmaker named Louis de Rochemont was hired by Time Inc. to make these March of Time film newsreels, which dramatized news events on film. The first March of Time newsreel was released in February 1935.

In his book, Propaganda On Film: A Nation At War, Richard Maynard described The March of Time as “a popular, journalistic, short-subject series on contemporary news events which lasted throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Often, the reporting of these episodes was slanted towards the views of Time-Life Inc. (moderate liberal, Republican, internationalist, etc.)” Prior to the release of the first March of Time film short, The March of Time was heavily promoted by Time Inc.’s Time and Fortune magazines. (end of part 1)

( Downtown 1/29/92)

Next: `Time’ Magazine’s `March of Time’ Link In Great Depression—Part 2

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