A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 25, 2011
“The editor’s indecision is final”

"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.

Time magazine
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.)

Time magazine
Show Business: Playing the End Game
Monday, Jul. 30, 1979
In many films, the editor’s indecision is final.

Google Books
The Future of Broadcasting:
Essays on authority, style and choice

By Richard Hoggart and Janet Morgan
London: Macmillan
1982
Pg. 50:
(The editor’s indecision is final.)

Google Books
Media Now
By Donald F. Ungurait, Thomas W, Bohn and Ray Eldon Hiebert
New York, NY: Longman
1985
Pg. 74:
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

Google Books
These Times:
A decade of South African politics

By Ken Owen
Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers
1992
Pg. 228:
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.

Google Books
Conor: a biography of Conor Cruise O’Brien, Volume 1
By Donald H. Akenson
Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press
1994
Pg. 441:
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.")

Google Books
Dateline Soweto:
Travels with black South African reporters

By William Finnegan
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
1995
Pg. 208:
...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

Telegraph (London)
David Astor
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)
Astor’s legacy
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.”

Google Books
Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This:
A Guide to Creating Great Advertising

By Luke Sullivan
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
2008
Pg. 212:
It was like that famous line from journalist Bill Mellor: “We are sorry. But the editor’s indecision is final.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Tuesday, January 25, 2011 • Permalink