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AFTERWORD Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A. Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer

days as 17,000 newspaper workers walked out. Over the next few years, most of the papers went out-ofbusiness. Of particular importance was the closure of the upper crust New York Herald Tribune—a direct competitor to The New York Times with a Republican tilt to its editorial pages. When the Herald Tribune disappeared in 1970 it had repercussions in my home. My mother didn’t like the font of The New York Times so we subscribed to the Herald-Tribune, New York Post,

Newark Evening-News, Somerset Messenger-Gazette, and Jewish Standard. With the disappearance of the Herald-Tribune, the leadership of the Times felt they had an obligation to break a longstanding newspaper tradition of the only writing which appeared on the editorial page and the facing page was produced by employees of the paper, including paid opinion columnists.

The New York Times deserves credit for the invention of the “op-ed” in 1970. As a child growing up in the New York metropolitan area in the 1950s and 60s, years before that first op-ed was published, I was accustomed to a world full of morning and afternoon daily newspapers. They were The New York Times, New

York Herald Tribune, New York Journal-American, New York World-Telegram and Sun, New York Mirror, New York Daily News, and New York Post. Two Long Island papers, the Star Journal and Daily Press, were counted among those serving the metropolitan area.

Across the Hudson River there was the dignified Newark Evening News, “the paper which made governors quake and brought the state legislature to its knees” and the far less dignified Newark Star-Ledger. The Village Voice began appearing as a weekly in 1955 and covered what we called, at that time, “the counter culture” or “beatnik” worlds. There was a vigorous group of black newspapers led by the New York Amsterdam-News. Then there were the non-English language daily newspapers in Spanish (El Diario La Prensa), Yiddish

(Forverts, Der Tog, Morgen Zshumal, Morgen Freiheit) German (New Yorker Staats-Zeitung), and Italian (Il Progresso Italo-Americano). There was also, of course, The Wall Street Journal but I didn’t know anyone who read it unless they were required to do so by their professor for their freshman college economics course. Among my enduring childhood memories, I recall my parents walking around the house looking for today’s copy of one of the papers they had not yet read. “Ruth, did you see today’s Post?” Then came the crushing strike of 1962, shuttering all of New York’s English language daily papers for 114


Instead the Times created the idea of an “opposite to the editorial page” or “op-ed” wherein previously unheard voices could express themselves. Thus, the oped was born and 50 years later with the transformation of much of journalism from print to electronic formats, the op-ed as a means of expression lives on. Why do people bother to write op-eds? A few, I suppose, are motivated by the desire to see their names in print. Most, however, feel that they have something useful to say and hope to cajole, persuade, or influence others to either agree with them or, at least, continue the dialogue about issues of public concern. Why do people read them? Because they want to get different points of view and be entertained by good writing—as long as that good writing doesn’t exceed approximately 750 words. You have to wonder how historians will describe the ways we as individuals, our institutions, and our society responded to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps some historian will come upon this collection of op-eds and opinion columns and use them to understand how we came to grasp what was happening to us and how to respond to it. We can, at the very least, take pride in the fact that the views and voices of the faculty of the New York Medical College were expressed and, we hope, made a positive contribution to dealing with the pandemic. I hope you have enjoyed reading this collection of essays, columns, and op-eds and, just maybe, think about things a little differently than you did before you read them.