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Renowned Nation Editor Navasky to Lecture Nov. 6

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November 1, 2006 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Victor Navasky -- the renowned editor of The Nation from 1978 to 1995 and its publisher and editorial director from 1995 to 2005 -- will deliver this academic year's first Gertrude and G.D. Crain Jr. Lecture Monday, Nov. 6, at Northwestern University. 

His free, public lecture, titled “A Matter of Opinion” (also the title of his book published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2005) will take place at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, on Northwestern's Evanston campus. Navasky will reflect on his long career in journalism, the state of opinion journals such as The Nation, and American politics.

A legendary figure in American journalism, Navasky manages, in the words of Time Magazine, “to deliver a regular helping of unfashionably liberal journalism printed on gray butcher paper, lightened only by pencil drawings and the mordant poetry of Calvin Trillin.” The “weekly magazine of leftist opinion” saw its circulation soar 96 percent (to a whooping 184,000) after the election of George W. Bush in 2000 and celebrated its best year ever in 2004 when the magazine turned a $251,000 profit after years of losses.

Navasky arrived at The Nation after serving as an editor at The New York Times Magazine and a columnist at the New York Times Book Review writing about the publishing business. He founded and worked for the Monocle, a satirical magazine published irregularly in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s.

In reviewing “A Matter of Opinion,” The New Yorker quoted Navasky as saying that “journals of opinion are not by themselves going to save the world.” The magazine noted, however, that in nearly three decades Navasky “remains a tireless evangelist for the idea that the world as we know it - liberal, democratic, and enlightened - won't be saved without them.”

Now publisher emeritus of The Nation, Navasky also is director of the George Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia University. He is the author of “Kennedy Justice” and “Naming Names,” a book about the McCarthy era that earned him the American Book Award. He is co-author with Christopher Cerf of “The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Information” and a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Marketplace show.

As novelist E. L. Doctorow put it, Navasky's passion for magazines and the country “has got to be the kinkiest love story of our time -- a man in love with a magazine and the two of them in love with a nation.” Put more discreetly by Bill Moyers, “Navasky is that most valuable of journalists: the subversive patriot, who loves his country too much to see it become a plaything for plutocrats, scalawags and scoundrels.”

Organized by Northwestern's Medill School, the Crain Lecture Series features journalists and newsmakers discussing current events and the news business. Check the Medill Web site at http://www.medill.northwestern.edu or call (847) 491-5401 for up-to-date information.