When I was in college, I wanted to be editor of REASON when I grew up. It was an impractical ambition, especially since the magazine was located in Santa Barbara, way off any journalist’s normal career path. So, being the practical product of the economically stressful 1970s, I became a business journalist, working for The Wall Street Journal and Inc.
Then, through an amazing coincidence, my husband got a job in Los Angeles just as REASON moved here in 1986. I went to work at the magazine, and in July 1989 I got my wish.
Four months later, the Berlin Wall fell, and nothing in political life has been the same since. It has been a fascinating decade, and REASON has been on the cutting edge of many of its most important stories.
In 1990 alone, REASON delved into the ideology of the resurgent green movement, ran the first national article on the excesses of the anti-date-rape crusade on college campuses, and exposed the ACLU’s dwindling interest in free speech, helping to turn that organization around.
Our January 1991 cover story explored the threat of Internet regulation, explaining what the Net was and why it mattered.
Through the 1990s, REASON was a voice of "dissident feminism," upholding the equal dignity of both sexes and supporting the rights of individuals against a government that had gone mad over sexual harassment. We opposed the expansion of law enforcement powers during the Bush and Clinton administrations. By the end of the decade, Waco and Monica had drawn many Americans to our side.
Back then, the political classes were pushing a plethora of schemes–to manage high-tech businesses with industrial policy, to stop corporate restructuring, to block immigration, to nationalize health insurance–that would have made today’s prosperity impossible. By December 1995, those schemes had mostly failed, and we could run Michael Cox and Richard Alm’s cover story, "The Good Old Days Are Now."
In the second half of the decade, we’ve concentrated more on big-picture thinking, running articles like Brink Lindsey’s February 1996 essay on the evolution of the workplace, Lynn Scarlett’s May 1996 brief for a new environmentalism, numerous explorations of artistic and cultural dynamism, and various articles derived from my book, The Future and Its Enemies. We’ve beefed up our science coverage, taking it in more philosophical and future-oriented directions.
Over the past 10 years, REASON has won recognition and converts, from television journalist John Stossel to high-tech CEO T.J. Rodgers. We’ve been a four-time finalist for National Magazine Awards, the industry’s highest honors. We opened a Washington office, established an intern program, created a rich online presence, supported editors’ books and outside articles, and learned to operate as a "virtual" organization with staff around the country.
It’s been a great decade. But as the new century dawns–and I turn 40–I’m stepping down as editor to write full-time. REASON has generously created the position of editor-at-large for me, and I will continue to write a column in the magazine. Beginning with our April issue, however, Nick Gillespie will succeed me as editor-in-chief. Nick is brilliant, talented, and dedicated to the magazine and its larger cause. I’m confident that REASON can look forward to even better days ahead.