In the mid-1930s the editor Henry Luce was more than pleased with the way his magazine, TIME, was covering the world's news. "Nevertheless," he felt, "people are missing relatively more of what the camera can tell than of what the reporter writes. With more or less success they 'follow' the news--i.e., the written news. They scarcely realize how fascinating it can be to 'follow' pictures--to be for the first time pictorially well-informed."
Luce recorded those notions in "A Prospectus For A New Magazine." He intended to call this imagined periodical SCOPE: THE SHOW-BOOK OF THE WORLD. For Rockefeller Center, at least, which today has no Time & Scope Building at the corner of 50th Street and 6th Avenue, it's a good thing that Luce and his colleague editors eventually settled upon LIFE--no subtitle, no embroidery.
"To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud...To see and to show is the mission now, for the first time, undertaken by a new kind of publication." So Luce promised in his prospectus and so he delivered on Nov. 23, 1936, when the first sellout issue of LIFE kick-started a publishing phenomenon unlike any in the 20th century. For 64 years, in weekly and monthly editions as well as in specials and books, LIFE chronicled the world in pictures, proving time and again, even as video technologies exploded and our ideas of sensory experience expanded, that there was what Luce called "a dynamic power" in the still image. A photograph could command attention and demand contemplation--it could evoke or provoke an emotion--in a way that words, standing alone, simply could not.
As we see in Luce's prospectus, LIFE was, from the very first, TIME's sister. For decades they have shared rooms in their eponymous tower in Rock Center, and they have shared other things too: a beat--the news of the world--and an instinct for lively, incisive journalism. They are not twins by any means; they have always looked at things differently. But they have always understood one another well.
And now they go into business together. LIFE will carry on in the new century as a series of regularly published books and special-issue magazines. The issue in your hands, THE YEAR IN PICTURES 2000, is the first brought to you by the editors of TIME, more than a couple of whom have served tours of duty at LIFE. (There has been, through the years, a great deal of back and forth between the magazines, with managing editors, photographers, reporters and mailroom clerks shuttling between elevator banks and mastheads with regularity and ease.) If the TIME sensibility informs the structure of the issue, we hope you will agree that the Life perspective--a picture really is worth a thousand words--flavors each page.
We wonder what the old boss, Luce, would have thought of this ultimate sister act. We figure he might be proud, as we are, to see his children stepping out together.