"The editor’s indecision is final” is a popular newspaper saying. The quotation has been cited in print since at least 1976 and is often associated with The Observer (London) newspaper when it was being run by David Astor (1912-2001). “The editor’s indecision is final” was used by South African newspapers in the early 1980s; a 1990 book about the film industry was titled My Indecision Is Final: The spectacular rise and fall of Goldcrest Films, the independent studio that challenged Hollywood.
A 2008 source (below) claims that the line is from Bill Mellor (there was a British journalist named William Mellor, 1888-1942, who did not work at The Observer), but there is no other evidence to support this. A 2001 obituary of David Astor in the Telegraph (London) claimed that the saying came from Katharine Whitehorn, who worked at The Observer from 1960 until 1996.
Wikipedia: David Astor
Francis David Langhorne Astor CH (5 March 1912, London – 7 December 2001, London) was an English newspaper publisher and member of the prominent Astor family.
Astor joined the Yorkshire Post newspaper where he worked for a year then joined his father’s newspaper, The Observer where he would serve as editor for 27 years. (...) In 1975, Astor resigned as editor of The Observer but continued as a trustee.
Wikipedia: William Mellor
William Mellor (1888–1942) was a left-wing British journalist.
Wikipedia: Katharine Whitehorn
Katharine Elizabeth Whitehorn (born 1928, Hendon) is a British journalist, writer, and columnist known for her wit and humour and as a keen observer of the changing role of women.
She wrote for Picture Post just before it closed, then worked as a columnist for The Observer in London from 1960 until 1996.
The Press: A U.S. Pipeline to London
Monday, Dec. 06, 1976
Old Boy Network. The Observer has lost much of its vigor in recent years under Editor David Astor, who stepped aside last year. ("The editor’s indecision is final,” an Astor deputy once quipped.)
Show Business: Playing the End Game
Monday, Jul. 30, 1979
In many films, the editor’s indecision is final.
The Future of Broadcasting:
Essays on authority, style and choice
By Richard Hoggart and Janet Morgan
(The editor’s indecision is final.)
By Donald F. Ungurait, Thomas W, Bohn and Ray Eldon Hiebert
New York, NY: Longman
A sign on his office wall reads: THE EDITOR’S INDECISION IS FINAL.
OCLC WorldCat record
My indecision is final : the spectacular rise and fall of Goldcrest Films, the independent studio that challenged Hollywood
Author: Jake Eberts; Terry Ilott
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed
A decade of South African politics
By Ken Owen
Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers
The newspaper editor who urged an abstention in the last referendum—prompting his staff to put up a mocking notice, ‘The editor’s indecision is final’—has found a place in history, but not a happy one.
Conor: a biography of Conor Cruise O’Brien, Volume 1
By Donald H. Akenson
Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press
Just at the time these labor costs were piling up, the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph were cutting into sales, so that advertising revenues were hurt. Under these circumstances, David Astor for the first time became wobbly as an editor. (One inscription in the men’s lavatory of the time read: “The Editor’s indecision is final.")
Travels with black South African reporters
By William Finnegan
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
...posted a notice in the newsroom: “The Editor’s Indecision Is Final.”
OCLC WorldCat record
This indecision is final : 32 management secrets of Albert Einstein, Billie Holiday, and a bunch of other people who never worked 9 to 5
Author: Barry J Gibbons
Publisher: Chicago : Irwin Professional Pub., ©1996.
Edition/Format: Book : English
12:01AM GMT 08 Dec 2001
Katharine Whitehorn, in a moment of exasperation, once remarked that “the editor’s indecision was final”.
The Observer (London)
By Donald Trelford
The Observer, Sunday 9 December 2001
Donald Trelford, who began contributing to The Observer in 1963, was editor for 18 years, succeeding David Astor in 1975.
He was amused when I told him I had once been heard to mutter as I emerged from an interminable conference: ‘The editor’s indecision is final.’
New York (NY) Times
‘Public Editor #1,’ by Daniel Okrent
Eye on The Times
Review by HAROLD EVANS
Published: June 18, 2006
IN my own career as a newspaper editor, I was never persuaded that an ombudsman was a good idea — well, I would say that, wouldn’t I? I was at one with Machiavelli on the dangers of divided authority, especially in an organization given to endless argument — “the editor’s indecision is final.”
Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This:
A Guide to Creating Great Advertising
By Luke Sullivan
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
It was like that famous line from journalist Bill Mellor: “We are sorry. But the editor’s indecision is final.”
New York City • Media/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Tuesday, January 25, 2011 • Permalink