American Pie 03.06.04

The admission by The New York Times that it had been guilty of sloppy reporting in the build-up to the war in Iraq, received a mixed reaction. Although many journalists here praised the paper for coming clean, others felt it was a long way from full disclosure – especially for not naming or punishing the one reporter whose stories about Iraq’s so-called weapons of mass destruction turned out to be far from accurate. The reporter, Judith Miller, regarded as a Middle East terrorism expert, had in many cases failed to identify her sources – but was never challenged by editors at the Times. To compound the problem, at least 300 newspapers in the US subscribe to the Times News Service and also ran many of the questionable stories. The only response from the Times’s new editor Bill Keller (his predecessor resigned over the Jayson Blair scandal) was that the statement published in the paper was “an explanation, not an apology”.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is “firing on all cylinders”, says Business Week magazine.

After more than a decade of financial problems, the company is showing growth in all its seven major divisions, including newspapers and cable TV. Even its Hollywood studio is doing better. In the past nine months, revenue jumped 20 per cent to $15.4bn (£8.4bn) and earnings increased 84 per cent to $1.20bn (£653m). There is now a report that it plans to launch one cable TV channel a year. Meanwhile, in addition to his financial political contributions in Britain, including a reported £19,000 donation to the Conservative Party, Murdoch heads (along with George Hearst of the Hearst Corp) the list of newspaper proprietors who have made contributions towards the US election campaign. Since December, Murdoch has donated $5,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and $2,000 (the maximum allowed) to four individual candidates. His wife Wendi has also chipped in $2,000 to three Republican candidates.

Despite the debacle over her first venture into magazine journalism, former US TV talkshow host Rosie O’Donnell is planning to try again.

This time she is talking of launching a magazine for gay and lesbian parents. Expected to debut later this year (there is already a call out for lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples willing to appear in a prototype issue), the magazine will be published and distributed by LPI Media, which already publishes gay magazines The Advocate and Out.

It seemed like a good idea to send out a magazine with the subscriber’s own home pictured on the cover. Thanks to space-age photography, the publisher of Californiabased Reason magazine was able to print on the cover of this month’s issue, a computergenerated telescope-like picture of 40,000 subscribers’ homes. It was meant to show how much privacy has deteriorated. Some readers were intrigued, others freaked out. Reason, which describes itself as a Libertarian magazine, is not likely to do it again. Not because of the complaints, but because it took too much time and money.

It’s been reported here that Dennis Publishing is looking for a new editor-in-chief to replace Keith Blanchard at Maxim, its flagship monthly.

Blanchard has been Maxim’s top editor for almost four years. Although its total circulation is still around 2.5 million,Maxim’s news-stand sales have dropped off almost 15 per cent lately. No one at Dennis Publishing would comment on the report, which ran in trade journal Mediaweek.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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