American Pie 05.09.02

Delegates to this year’s Asian American Journalists Association get-together found themselves celebrating at the infamous Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, from where Lee Harvey Oswald shot at JFK’s motorcade in 1963. Two floors are now a museum, which is one of the most popular corporate events venues in Texas. Cocktails and canapes are served within feet of the spot from where Oswald fired his fatal shots. The walls are hung with various photographs, including pictures of newsmen who covered the story and original AP teletypes that carried the first bulletins of the assassination. Some delegates were taken aback, some were shocked. "It’s like having a party in a funeral home," said one. The museum says catering for parties is the only way to meet its expenses. But it insists it is sensitive to the sanctity of the site. It won’t accept bookings for weddings – despite getting a lot of requests – and dancing is forbidden.

 

Despite the downturn in advertising, the September issue of US Vogue was so large (567 pages of ads) that it hadÊto be printed as two magazines and bound into a 752-page, 4lb issue – the thickest ever published by Conde Nast.

 

The decision of the NY Times to publish reports on gay weddings has provoked debate, mainly because it is considered a trendsetter and that it is likely to encourage other papers to do the same. But quite a number of US papers have been accepting such reports for years -59 at the last count. Among them are The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. But most say they rarely get requests, possibly because most papers will only accept paid-for ads. The Atlanta Journal says it hasn’t published a report on a same-sex wedding for eight years, the Minneapolis Star Tribune has run only four or five in the past three years and the San Francisco Chronicle, which serves an area with a large gay population, has had little response.

 

Maxim is branching out here – it has struck a deal with Universal Music to create and promote CDs, in its first venture into the music business. The first CD, Maxim Rocks, will hit music stores later this month. It includes tracks by Bon Jovi, Queens of the Stone Age and Stroke 9. Also included is a 24-page mini version of Maxim. "We’re working on lots of other things," said Barry Pincus, who is in charge of brand development at Dennis Publishing.

 

The first redesigned issue of Rolling Stone under new editor Ed Needham (formerly of FHM) has just hit the news-stands. The verdict: it’s snappier and leaner. Gone are the long, page-after-page think-pieces and in are lots more pictures. One of the biggest changes is the number of album reviews. The old Rolling Stone rarely included more than 20 per issue, whereas the new mag has more than 100. This is a clear sign that Needham (and publisher Jann Wenner) are going after Blender, which has been making big inroads and usually runs at least 200 reviews. The redesigned Rolling Stone has 76 ad pages – described by expert commentators as healthy but not staggering. But the test will be the sales.

At the last audit, sales were 1,254,000, but recent news-stand figures have dropped by 16 per cent.

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