S5-EP6: Jane Brody on Life and Lessons from a Half Century at The New York Times
Debbie interviews “High Priestess of Health” Jane Brody on her 57-year career as a columnist for The New York Times.
Today, Debbie talks to Jane Brody, the renowned New York Times columnist who until last year wrote the popular weekly Personal Health column.
In this episode, she reflects on her 57-year career at the Times. They talk about how she moved from biochemistry to journalism and how she got hired by the Times at age 24.
Instead of wilting under discouraging words from the editor who was interviewing her for a job, she responded, “Mr. Rosenthal, if I didn’t think I could do this job, I wouldn’t be here.” Abe Rosenthal was the managing editor and later the legendary executive editor of The New York Times.
Jane applied her no-nonsense style to reporting, writing with a distinctive mix of personal anecdotes, interviews with experts and scientific fact.
She started the Personal Health column in 1976 (right when Debbie was starting work as a reporter). She invented the topic of personal health with the goal of teaching readers how to lead better, healthier lives. The column covered everything from common diseases to cancers to death and dying, as well as wellness, exercise, and nutrition.
Jane talks about what it was like to be a woman in an almost all-male newsroom and how squeamish editors wouldn’t let her use the words sexual intercourse or penis. She changed that.
She also tells us why she decided to retire at age 80 and what her new retired life looks like.
Debbie hopes you’ll enjoy listening to this episode as much as she did recording it. Jane Brody does not disappoint on the topic of making the most of growing older.
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- Jane on Wikipedia
- Jane’s Website
- Jane’s NYT page
- Jane’s books on Amazon
- Jane Brody and Dr. Anthony Fauci on Staying Fit and Focused at 80 (Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, May 20, 2021)
Articles by Jane Brody
- Personal Health; With more help available for impotence, few men seek it (The New York Times, Aug. 2, 1995)
- Surgical Implants Correct Impotence (The New York Times, June 12, 1979)
- Female Orgasmic Theory Challenged (The New York Times, September 21, 1972)
- Farewell column: Farewell, Readers, It’s Been a Remarkable Ride (The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2022)
- Column about her husband’s death: When the Only Hope Is a Peaceful Ending (The New York Times, March 15, 2010)
- Column about her 80th birthday: A Jane Brody Birthday Milestone: 80! (The New York Times, May 17, 2021)
Articles about Jane:
- Thanks, Jane Brody, for Nudging Us to Be Better (Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, Feb. 24, 2022)
- After Decades as the Nation’s Leading Health Columnist, Jane Brody Retires (Cornell Alumni Magazine, 2022)
Mentioned writers and editors:
- Human Sexual Response by Masters and Johnson (first published in 1966)
- Walter Sullivan
- Clifton Daniel, a Managing Editor Who Set a Writerly, Courtly Tone In Shaping The Times, Dies at 87 (The New York Times, Feb. 22, 2000)
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Our Media Partners:
- CoGenerate (formerly Encore.org)
- MEA and with thanks to Chip Conley
- Next For Me (former media partner and in memory of Jeff Tidwell)
Thanks to our media partners
Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.
Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.
Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."