American Pie 01.08.02

Should journalism schools just teach the nuts and bolts of journalism or should students be given a broader curriculum? That’s the question facing the Columbia School of Journalism in New York. It has halted its search for a new dean until it has reviewed its options. "We have to rethink our mission," said the assistant dean. Letters, phone calls and e-mails from former students and journalists are about evenly split between those who believe journalism schools should be dedicated to teaching basic skills and those who favour a more academic approach. "Writing, reporting, interviewing and editing will remain the pillars of our programme," the school’s alumni have been promised. "To act otherwise would contravene the bedrock principles upon which the school was built." One professor summed it up: "This should not be a stupid debate about hard-drinking hacks versus pencil-pushing intellectuals."

 

Asked how she felt on learning she is to receive a million dollars in settlement of her contract as editor-in-chief of the now defunct Talk magazine, Tina Brown told the NY Daily News: "It was great rock’n’roll." She has had lots of offers, she said, in both publishing and television. But first she plans to go hang-gliding in Corsica with husband Harry Evans and spend the rest of the summer with her children.

 

Celebrities are not only not selling magazines these days, they are also causing problems for their staff. Rosie O’Donnell, the former talkshow hostess who has a magazine named after her, was upset when she learned, on vacation, that the magazine’s publisher, Gruner + Jahr, had appointed a new editor in her absence. She hurried back to New York for a confrontation and reportedly told the staff: "I’m in charge here." Her agent said: "She considers the magazine her artistic canvas." One reason for the change of editor was that sales of the magazine (formerly called McCalls) were slumping. They dropped after O’Donnell confirmed reports of her lesbian relations.

 

The White House, angry over several leaks in recent weeks, has hinted it may resort to lie-detector tests to find out who is responsible. The FBI has even been called in. Recently, the State Department detained and questioned a reporter it thought was in possession of a secret document relating to the illegal issue of visas at an overseas consulate. It turned out he didn’t have it. Many experts believe investigating leaks in Washington will be a frustrating and fruitless undertaking, mainly because too many people have access to secrets.

 

With stock markets in turmoil, this is probably the right moment to launch a new magazine for the frugal. Budget Living’s motto is "Spend smart, think rich" and is aimed at readers wanting to save money without compromising on lifestyle — whether in cars, clothes, travel or food and drink. The magazine claims it will be a mix of Martha Stewart Living, Elle Decor, Lucky and Money. The first issue will include an article on how to throw a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 for less than $100 (£60).

 

Gadfly British journalist Anthony Haden-Guest has been looking for a good dentist. Still proud of his boxing ability, even at 65, he went into the ring at a charity event to fight former Golden Gloves champion Domenico Monaco. Although their gloves barely touched, Haden-Guest reportedly lost four teeth. But he did get the verdict.

 

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