Joe Morgenstern Recalls His Contributions to 1966 Newsweek Cover Story

On this #tbt, a monumental and super-fun 50th anniversary Newsweek package.

NewsweekMarch211966CoverNot long after Joe Morgenstern joined Newsweek as a film critic, he was enlisted to help research a March 21, 1966 issue cover story about American teenagers. In this week’s very fun 50th anniversary look-back at the issue and where the main participants wound up all these years later, there is also an article for which key contributors were interviewed.

Photographer Julian Wasser explains how he found California cover girl and future actress Jan Smithers (Bailey Quarters in WKRP in Cincinnati); reporter David Morberg retraces his interview process; and Morgenstern plows back into an ancient slice of data journalism:

“I went through this couple of days thinking, ‘My god, what have I gotten myself into?!’ Those were the days of far-flung bureaus with reporting just pouring in, and much of it very good and vivid. I remember long days and nights and, gosh, I think it was three weeks it took us to turn that thing out. My wife didn’t see much of me, and I was pretty much stuck in [the Newsweek office at] 444 Madison like a mad professor coping with this rising tide of reporting material…”

“It’s almost impossible now to think of teenagers without social networks. [In 1966], the social networks were called friends. Then I thought, it’s almost impossible to think we did that kind of data-intensive, information-dense journalism without the Internet and without computers.”

Another one of the fun anniversary pieces involves Christopher Reed, at the time of “The Teen-agers” a privileged Upper East Side 17-year-old and now… Well, you’ll have to read to find out.