Reflections before advancing in new publishing directions
December 1, 2011
by Joseph P. Tartaro
This is my last Hindsight column for Gun Week, so it may be a combination of reminiscences and predictions of what is to come in the future.
While the door is closing on the long and often illustrious history of Gun Week since it was launched by Amos Press in the fall of 1963, a new door will be opening of “Gun Week the next generation,” as they say in the Hollywood promos, which will be known as TheGunMag.com.
I have been in the newspaper/magazine editing business for more years than I like to think about. Even before I got into editing for the military as part of the US Army’s Troop Information and Education effort, I had worked the streets as a reporter for local news weeklies. Most editors don’t start out as editors but as reporters, and writers. However, I did a serious stint as an editor for the military’s Pacific Stars & Stripes; more proofreading (with non-English-speaking typesetters), copyediting, headline writing and page make-up.
By the way, when I started laying out newspaper pages, the type was still being set in metal, the photos were engraved in metal and the metal trays with type and photo “cuts” were assembled on waist-high, wheeled carts called turtles.
Slowly, like so many of my generation, we progressed through several technological eras in a very short time, and we all had to learn new skills and how to deal with the amazing capabilities of computers.
Since I was always a “gunny” of sorts from my pre-teen and teen years, it was not surprising that when I wasn’t editing for a while, I was writing gun articles for other publications, including Gun Week, under Amos Press ownership, and for publications of the National Rifle Association.
There is some difference between editing and reporting. An editor is dealing daily with a broader canvas than a reporter. Editors must have a vision. Editors have a bigger space to fill, a broader perspective of what constitutes news and must have some sense of what their readers really want in order to produce a publication that is entertaining as well as educational. Some information can be difficult to deal with even if it is important to the reader, so editors have to strike a balance between visual appeal and the intensely interesting written word.
Now editors couldn’t deal with such large canvases and mostly achieve their intended goals without the help of a lot of other people, including sources, writers, photographers, proofreaders and supporting or ancillary staff. Most of the writing that has appeared in the pages of Gun Week may have been directed by, certainly selected, by various editors.
Throughout its history, Gun Week was blessed by editors and contributing writers who were as deeply committed to the right to keep and bear arms and the shooting sports as any of their readers. With the exception of some temporary editors for short periods, “the newspaper of the gun lobby” as The New York Post first called Gun Week had only three editors: Neal Knox, James C. “Jim” Schneider and myself. Regrettably, Knox and Schneider are no longer with us, but they left their mark on me as well as this newspaper and its readers.
Because of the publication Gun Week had always been, and because of the efforts of Knox, Schneider and, to a lesser extent, myself our readers have been treated to some of the finest work in the gun writing field. Some of those people later went on to other publishing pursuits and greater reputations. Some are still alive and writing, while others may have gone to their deserved rewards. But all contributed to the legacy of Gun Week.
Most reader of modern times will know the names of those who have been writing for us in recent months and years. There is no need to summon their names; many of them appear in the masthead on Page 4.
However, it would not be proper to close the pages of Gun Week with mentioning some of those whose works have not appeared in recent years, and some of whom are no longer living. Fortunately, in many cases, you still can find and enjoy some of the books and articles they had written for these and other pages.
Without checking our records and not intending to skip by any I do not mentioned, I would like to mention some of those former Gun Week writers. Some had specialties, some were more general.
For instance, Don Zutz wrote great reloading columns, while Don Davis was long a weekly contributor on muzzleloading. Others including those still working who come quickly to mind may surprise more recent readers.
John Wootters and Gary Anderson also were once contributors to Gun Week. So were R.L. Wallack, Jerry Ahern, Massad Ayoob, David I. Caplan, Gene Crum, Joe Maciewitz, Max Vickery, George C. Nonte, Glen Voorhees and many, many others. I need to thank these people for their contributions and what they offered our readers.
I also need to thank our sources, those readers and friends, in and out of politics, who provided tips on news stories, or who submitted news clippings and other information. The work of editors and writers is often dependent on the valuable help of people who we like to refer to as “sources.”
Naturally, I have to thank all of the subscribers who always had faith in Gun Week which they backed with their hard-earned money, as well as all the advertisers who supported both the publication and its readership with their investment.
Looking into some ancient back issues of Gun Week, it is interesting to note that many brands that now are major advertisers and forces in the firearms industry once started with some pretty small ads in our pages.
Needless to say, I have to thank my wife, Pat, who has helped, tolerated and often inspired me for so many years, as well as the rest of my family and friends.
I saved one thank you for last. That’s for Alan Gottlieb. When we both had problems in 1984 and ’85, he was there to help me, my late partner-brother Vincent and Gun Week.
While the two of us were having lunch during the NRA meetings and exhibits this year, we agreed that our getting together was the best thing we had ever done.
Now, as our next joint publication effort will be TheGunMag.com, both print and online editionsboth due in January, I hope I can honestly say, you haven’t seen anything like what is coming for our readers and the gun community.