The surprise sale of The Washington Post to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has been the buzz of the media world this week. The news prompted me to recall Peter Drucker’s brief involvement with the newspaper in the late 1930s, soon after he came to the United States from Europe.
Peter Drucker, Claremont Graduate University; Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management
The Austrian-born Drucker was in his late twenties when he did a brief stint as a freelance foreign correspondent for the Post, during a return visit to Europe in the spring of 1938. This is recounted in Drucker’s charming memoir originally published in 1978, Adventures of a Bystander.
He notes that he cold-called the foreign editor, Barnet Nover, walked into his office, and left two hours later with an advance for the first two pieces. In describing the paper in those days, Drucker writes that the Post, “… under its new owner, Eugene Meyer, was rapidly becoming the leading paper in Washington and the “house organ” of the government bureaucracy.” Drucker also writes that he “… joined the Foreign Press Association and got a press card (which, incidentally, I never once was asked to show).”
If your library has the ProQuest Historical Newspapers ™ database, you can freely access these articles in full text, as they looked on the page 75 years ago. I found five from 1938 under his byline (“By Peter F. Drucker, Special Correspondent of The Post”):
“Chamberlain’s Stock Sags in Great Britain” (Dateline: London; April 10, 1938)
“Under Germany’s Shadow: Populations Bordering on Nazi Empire in Danger” (Dateline: Zurich, April 16, 1938)
“Rome Letter: Anglo-Italian Agreement Stirs Pride of People But Not Enough to Counteract Uneasiness Over Business Outlook” (Dateline: Rome; May 5, 1938)
“Paris Letter: France Found Disillusioned By Failure of Daladier Government to Restore Confidence Overnight” (Dateline: Paris; May 13, 1938)
“Europe in Shadow: Correspondent Finds Tension And Fears Prevalent Everywhere With Old Bases of Politics Destroyed” (No dateline; May 18, 1938)
The database also includes some pieces from many years later, including one from September 4, 1966, “Our Destination – Or a Whistle Stop?” excerpted from a paper he gave at a faculty seminar on the Great Society at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. These articles add to the significant treasure trove of Drucker material available in the digital age, an unthinkable notion in his foreign correspondent days 75 years ago.