April 29, 2001 - RPCS Charlie Peters retires as "Washington Monthly" Editor

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By Admin1 (Admin) on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 2:11 pm: Edit Post

RPCS Charlie Peters retires as "Washington Monthly" Editor

In 1960, during his successful campaign for the House of Delegates, Peters met Jack Kennedy, who was running in the West Virginia presidential primary. Despite Peters's dubious advice about Kennedy's wife, the two men became friends. When Kennedy was elected president, he hired Peters to work at the Peace Corps.

His job was to travel around the world evaluating Peace Corps programs. He loved it. He enjoyed figuring out why some programs worked and some didn't. Soon he had a whole staff of evaluators working for him. The best ones, he found, were journalists.

"They were skilled observers," Peters wrote in his 1988 autobiography, "who could report what they had seen in prose that was readable."

In 1968, Peters got an idea: Why not start a magazine that would evaluate all kinds of government agencies the way his staff evaluated Peace Corps programs?

He raised some money -- from financier Warren Buffett and future senator Jay Rockefeller, among others -- and began publishing the Washington Monthly in January 1969. It was a wonderful magazine -- smart, savvy, provocative and sometimes delightfully funny. Naturally, it lost money -- a half million in the first five years.

After that, Peters figured out a successful formula: "I applied the Peace Corps principle -- find bright young people and pay them miserably, but only make them work for a short period of time."

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