Abelson was a fearless Barron’s editor
Kate Welling of Barron’s profiles former editor in chief Alan Abelson, who was feared by stock hucksters.
Welling reports, “Up & Down Wall Street was an unqualified hit from its first appearance in January 1966. Alan’s deft analysis of what made stocks tick—and his stiletto dissection of hype—attracted legions of new subscribers to Barron’s. Reading his columns became a sacred Saturday-morning ritual for Barron’s subscribers. Former colleague Rhonda Brammer perhaps best described what Alan called his ‘scribblings’ when she wrote, ‘Biting and brilliant, his columns mixed borscht-belt humor and Shakespearean allusions with zingers from Twain, Mencken, and Wilde—though Alan’s own one-liners often trumped them all.’
“Yet Alan never used his considerable literary firepower haphazardly or merely to preen. A quintessential newsman (or, as he preferred, ‘ink-stained wretch’), Alan was blessed with razor-sharp journalistic instincts, congenital skepticism, a Renaissance intellect, and a preternatural felicity with the mother tongue, which sent many readers of his column to dictionaries as they read. But Alan was also gifted with a rare ability to actually listen—an ingrained empathy for others, especially the proverbial little guy, down-on-their-luck freelancers, and writers suffering deadline paralysis.
“Alan’s mission in his column was quite specific, and, as Barron’s editor, he strove to inculcate it into the very fabric of the magazine—first slowly, during his tenure as managing editor, from 1965 to 1981, and then full-throttle during his dozen years of editorship. Alan not only shepherded his writers through market-shaking exposés but also wrought huge changes in Barron’s tone, contents, and look. He added art and blessed white space, while filling the ‘news hole’ with exhaustive investigative pieces, topical financial analysis, and in-depth interviews.”
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