American Pie 04.01.02

The picture most Americans remember from the Second World War is that of a group of US Marines raising the US flag on Iwo Jima. Now, a similar picture, of three New York City firefighters raising the Stars and Stripes over the debris of the World Trade Center, has become equally famous. The picture was taken by Tom Franklin, a photographer on New Jersey newspaper, the Bergen Record, who happened by just as the firefighters raised the flag on a broken steel beam. Franklin was so intent on getting his picture back to his paper he begged a lift on a police boat across the Hudson River, hitchhiked three miles and then wired his pictures from a local motel. The picture has since become the most requested picture of the Trade Center carnage and has been reproduced on T-shirts, coffee mugs, scores of posters and dozens of magazine covers. Since September, the Record has filed more than 30,000 requests for prints of the photo, all the proceeds of which, totalling almost half a million dollars, have gone to firefighters’ charities. There is now talk of a statue being created based on the picture. And there is every likelihood the picture may be voted Picture of the Year and win Franklin a Pulitzer Prize.    

For the first time in 50 years US television network is planning to start running commercials for hard liquor. Despite criticism from the medical profession, and organisations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, NBC is going ahead with its plan to start accepting ads for Scotch whisky, gin and vodka – and  other networks are expected to follow suit.   This will not be welcome news to many US magazines which are likely to lose a lot of the liquor adverts that have gone to them for several decades. In 2001 liquor companies bought more than 3,000 pages of ads in leading US magazines, at a cost of more than $260m (£180m).


Instead of putting magazines with sexy covers on a high shelf, some stores are now concealing them behind white plastic shields. One store in Florida conceals the covers of Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Redbook, showing just the title. A spokesman for Morality in Media claimed many shoppers are tired of being faced with coverlines such as "99 Hot Things to Do with a Man".


Although Murnia Abu-Jamal, the former journalist who has been on death row in Philadelphia for almost 20 years, has had his death sentence thrown out because of a technicality, it doesn’t mean he will be going free anytime soon – if ever.  Convicted of the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia policeman, Abu-Jamal’s case has been taken up by journalist organisations all over the world, including the NUJ in Britain. But under the new ruling, the state of Pennsylvania has six months in which to reschedule the death-penalty phase of his trial – on the grounds the original sentencing was flawed. Failing a re-hearing, Abu-Jamal will be sentenced automatically to life imprisonment

According to the NY Post, if Conrad Black is indeed interested in taking over Hearst Magazine’s 50 per cent share in Talk magazine, then founder editor Tina Brown may soon be looking for a new job. The Post’s Neil Travis reports that Lord Black is likely to offer the editorship to Vicky Ward, a former executive editor of Talk who now works at Vanity Fair – and just happens to be married to his lordship’s  nephew.


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