American Pie 02.10.03

Despite the ad slump, more magazines have been launched in the US this year than in any of the past five. They range from titles for young mothers, high rollers in Las Vegas to shopping guides for men. “All of a sudden, everybody and their cousins are putting out new magazines,” says Samir Husni, a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi.

There have been, he says, 450 launches in the past six months, 100 more than in the same period last year. New technology has made launches easier. But the survival rate is not encouraging. Instead of a one-year survival rate of 50 per cent, the death rate has climbed to six out of 10. “To start a new magazine in these times is certainly very brave and very ambitious,” says Marlene Kahan, executive director of the American Society of Magazine Editors. Some new magazines are piggy-backing on existing titles. Out Traveler, aimed at the gay men’s market, is being poly-bagged this month with two already published gay mags, Out and The Advocate, giving it an instant circulation of 180,000. Ultra-rich travellers are the target of Town & Country Travel which Hearst is coupling with its existing Town & Country and will also be given away in luxury hotels. The biggest launch is Sports Illustrated on Campus, a new Time Inc magazine for students which is being inserted inside 74 college newspapers, giving it an instant circulation of over a million.

Despite the success of the lads’ mags, sex magazines are beginning to fold. One of the first to go is Screw, the weekly launched by Al Goldstein back in the Seventies. It was evicted from its offices for non-payment of rent and employees pay cheques started to bounce. At least two issues of Screw have failed to appear on the news-stands. Another porn-publisher, Bob Guccione of Penthouse, recently filed for bankruptcy.

After more than a century, the weekly Editor & Publisher magazine, the US equivalent of Press Gazette, is switching to monthly publication. It plans to beef up its news coverage on its website, but create a fatter, more featureoriented magazine. E&P editor Greg Mitchell insists: “We will continue to focus on print.”

Can Martin Dunn inject new life into the ailing New York Daily News? Staff are hoping so, after watching sales of the rival NY Post climb steadily while circulation of the News has stagnated. Dunn, who worked for the Daily News from 1993 to 1996, after a brief stint editing Rupert Murdoch’s Boston Herald, is returning to the News as editorial director. Dunn is expected to arrive here in a few days, having been wooed by Newsowner Mort Zuckerman, with whom he clashed back in 1996. The relationship has obviously been mended. During his previous tenure at the News, Dunn was known for his aggressive coverage of New York politics and his investigative stories.

Now we know!

In an interview with Fox News, President Bush confesses he rarely reads more than the headlines in his morning papers. “I just glance at them, just to know what’s going on,” he reveals. He says he gets the real news from his staff, who he says know what’s really going on and are objective. “A lot of the time there is opinion mixed in with the news.”

According to Women’s Wear Daily, Tina Brown is negotiating to write a column for The Washington Post. If the deal goes through, as expected, it will mean Brown will probably no longer write for The Times. Her column, however, is expected to continue running on the website Salon.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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