Honoring two mag legends

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The magazine business delivered its highest honors Feb. 1 to Lewis Lapham, who led Harper's as editor in two stretches totaling nearly three decades, and Thomas O. Ryder, the Reader's Digest Association chairman who previously led American Express Publishing and CBS Magazines.

Mr. Ryder, who was introduced by restaurateur Danny Meyer and good friend and former colleague Gary Rich, good-naturedly accepted the many jibes at his waistline and mischievous nature. When he got up to accept his award, he told the crowd he was going to admit to something "unseemly": actually wanting and longing for just such an honor.

"I have waited for so long to be on this podium one day as the recipient of this award," Mr. Ryder said as he accepted the Henry Johnson Fisher Award in front of hundreds of industry executives, staffers and observers. "Magazines made my life, and I'd like to think that my being here means I gave a little something back."

With only one brief detour, Mr. Ryder has worked in magazines since a job offer from Life brought him to New York after college. "I never had a day-not a day-when I didn't realize just how lucky I was," he told the audience. "When you're done, I hope you feel the same way."

For his part, Mr. Lapham acted his expected, restrained self as he was inducted into the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame. He recounted the first advice he got upon being first named editor of Harper's in 1976, which boiled down to one word: "Steal."

"Stand on the back of talent," he added. "Ride the surfboard of genius." He then told the crowd he had done just that, acknowledging the many young editors he has worked with through the years.

Although he is "retired," Mr. Lapham is developing a historical journal, Lapham's Quarterly. "I look forward to the continued exploration," he said.
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