The Editor's Desk

In the Spring of 1986, Pat Wingert joined NEWSWEEK's Washington bureau after nearly a decade of reporting for two Chicago newspapers. Her first assignment was to work with a new writer in New York, Barbara Kantrowitz, on a story about how more American families were reacting to fears about airline terrorism by taking old-fashioned car vacations. In those days, writers in New York, where we are headquartered, were largely enveloped in an Olympian mist, spending much of the week awaiting what were called "files" of actual reporting from our bureaus. But Pat did a radical thing: she picked up the phone and called Barbara, herself a veteran big-city newspaper reporter, to talk about the story. They hit it off from the start. At the end of that opening conversation, Barbara said, "We're going to get along just fine."

And how. In the ensuing 20 years, Pat and Barbara have worked together on hundreds of NEWSWEEK stories, including dozens of covers. Their first such outing, in 1986, was "No Baby on Board," a cover story about the rise of married couples without children. Work, though, was not all Pat and Barbara would come to share.

At NEWSWEEK, as elsewhere, our professional lives are intertwined with our personal ones; we tend to become permanent parts of one another's worlds. That happened with Pat and Barbara in 1988, when Barbara showed up at the intensive-care nursery of Georgetown University Medical Center, where Pat's first son had struggled to survive after being born 16 weeks prematurely. (Thankfully, he did; Danny, now 19, is a college student who is training to be a paramedic.) The crisis ultimately led the two to a cover story on premature births, and to an epiphany: "We realized that many of the most important stories we would do would be inspired by our own lives as women, wives and mothers," Pat says.

Which, along with their interest in health and medicine, brought them first to their column, Her Body, and now to the publication of their new book on menopause, "Is It Hot in Here? Or Is It Me?" which we excerpt this week as part of our Health for Life series. The package, edited by David Noonan and including offerings from our partners at Harvard Medical School , is an example of a kind of journalism that is central to our mission: bringing readers important stories not only about the life of the nation but about their own lives.

Elsewhere, Scott Johnson breaks news from Iraq, where, amid plans for a "surge" in troops and a shuffle in the high command, American officials are struggling to win the propaganda war. A document obtained by NEWSWEEK details American concerns about the consequences of getting the message wrong. Susannah Meadows sits down with Reade Seligmann, one of the lacrosse players embroiled in the rape scandal at Duke, to talk about life since that disastrous party last year.

There is much news, too, in the cover, which touches on the lives of roughly 37 million women in America. "Our hope is that, like us, readers will realize that midlife is about more than hormones," Pat says. "It's a crucial juncture. Making smart choices about how to deal with these changes can help you lead a longer, healthier life and allow you to be there for all the important people in your life"--which is, as Pat and Barbara's own friendship shows, perhaps the most crucial thing of all.