American Pie 05.12.05

Pie One:

Like to see your picture – or that of your family –
up in lights over New York’s famous Times Square? Alongside all those
electronic billboards advertising the latest drinks and cars or new
Broadway shows. If so, move fast, Time magazine is for the first time
offering to display the pictures of no less than 50,000 of its readers
on a new electronic Times Square billboard.. Of course it’s a promotion
for its Person of the Year issue. Time has invited anyone interested –
and you don’t have to be American – to submit digital headshots of
themselves, their kids, their parents to be projected on a seven-storey
high electronic billboard. To do so you have to log on to
www.impoy.com. And you don’t have to be in Times Square to see your
picture They can be e-mailed and printed later But there isn’t much
time. The promotion ends on December 8, this coming Thursday. That’s
the day Time will announce who will be its Person of the Year. This
years the candidates include Condoleezza Rice, George W Bush, Lance
Armstrong and JK Rowling. And if itsruled eligible: Hurricane Katrina.

Does
America need a Press Complaints Commission? For years most American
journalists have rejected the suggestion. But recent scandals and
allegations of misuse of the Press have resulted in some journalists
seriously re-considering the idea. There is of course the provision in
the American Constitution, the First Amendment, that prohibits the
Government from making any laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of
the press” That’s been the argument against anything like a Press
Council.. But what about self-regulation? That’s the new suggestion.
Publishers and broadcast companies are still, it’s said, firmly against
the idea. Fifty years ago a commission sponsored by Henry Luce
recommended a variety of journalistic reforms. – including a national
news council – but the ideas were all rejected. Similar efforts since
have also met with rejection. Now – in the wake of such scandals as
Jayson Blair’s plagiarism, the CIA agent cover up and now allegations
that Washington has been paying for pro-US stories in the Iraqi press –
the idea has come up again. One suggestion is that one of the big
American foundations – one not associated with the publishing or
broadcast industries – should sponsor a survey of the media , what’s
wrong with it if anything, and perhaps suggest some form of
self-regulation, The chance of that happening? Most journalists I know
here wouldn’t bet on it….But some fear the alternative – should there
be more scandals – might be Government intervention.

After less
than a year in the job, Michael Cooke, a former British newsman, is
giving up his job as editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News. He is
returning to Chicago where he worked as editor-in-chief of The Chicago
Sun Times until he was lured to New York by Mort Zuckerman, owner of
The News. Cooke, who is 53 and spent many years working in Canada,
never took to life in New York, – or so some of his colleagues claim.
Reportedly he clashed many times with his boss, editorial director
Martin Dunn. One of the problems: circulation of The News, during his
tenure, dropped from 729,000 to 688,000 – whereas the circulation of
its big rival the NY Post went up. Cooke also came under fire for
reprinting in The News an article he wrote while he as at the Chicago
Sun Times about a paid-for Press trip he made to Bovey Castle in
England. He is not returning to his old job at the Sun Times .His new
title will be editorial vice-president of the Sun Times News Group
which is part of Hollinger International, which publishes several small
dailies and about 60 suburban weeklies.

America ‘s oldest – and
most legendary – news bureaus is closing down. The Chicago City News
Service, which was the training ground for many of America’s most
famous journalists, is ceasing operations on Jan l. The bureau, started
in 1890 as an unusual joint venture by the city’s five main newspapers
to cover local crime and fire stories, belongs to the city’s Front Page
era – in fact was featured in the famous movie of that name. The
remaining staff of 13 will be found jobs, they have been promised, in
the internet-service of The Chicago Tribune which has been running the
agency – at an increasing loss – for the past six years.

Newspapers
that are launching web-sites are doing well. A new report by the
Newspaper Association of America says that in September over 47 million
people visited newspaper website – the most ever. Up nearly 16 per cent
in a year, and almost 32 per cent of all Internet users. The big
hurricane disasters may, its conceded, have accounted for the upsurge –
but it is also seen as a continuing switch from printed newspapers.
Users spent as much an average of 38 minutes on the websites. The most
popular papers: the NY Times (11 million visitors ) followed by USA
Today , the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. The bad news for
newspapers is that circulation of newspapers in the US in the past six
months has dropped almost 3 per cent – meaning that over a million
people stopped buying a newspaper.

For the first time the New
York Times is printing outside the US. Its now printing part of its
national edition in Toronto, which will facilitate delivery of the
paper in Canada and also cities along the US-Canada border such as
Buffalo, Rochester and Detroit. The paper – although it has suffered a
decline in circulation in the New York area – claims its overall
circulation has gone up half a per cent in the past six months to just
over l,126,000. Until now its circulation in Canada has been just under
6,000, .

Don’t write off Playboy….the former No 1 selling men’s
mag is revitalizing. And looking to making a big comeback. Firstly,
it’s relaunching some of its old Playboy Clubs, even redesigning sexier
costumes for its famous bosomy cotton- tailed Playmates. First will be
in Las Vegas, and then maybe in Shanghai.. It’s also planning to launch
a new men’s magazine in India, which may not use the Playboy name, or
even include it’s trademark nudes, but would be, according to Christie
Hefner, daughter of Hugh Hefner, who now runs the company, its boldest
venture ever. The magazine also wants to return to Italy and Australia,
and its discussing joint ventures with publishers in both countries.
And – big news – is considering launching a British edition. At the
moment only the US edition is sold in the UK.

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