American Pie 07.11.02

It’s a replay of the old Chicago newspaper wars. The city’s two leading papers, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, have both launched mini-newspapers aimed at 18- to 34-year-old readers. Both are tabloids. One is called Red Air, the other Red Streak. With their own readership ageing and declining, both papers hope to lure new readers with snappier, easy-to-read newspapers costing only 25 cents. One oddity is that the Trib is a broadsheet and always in the past eschewed the idea of going tabloid. The Sun-Times, a tabloid, is owned by Hollinger International, which also owns The Daily Telegraph. As for the names of the new mini-papers, Red Streak is a name steeped in Chicago newspaper lore. It goes back to the days when Chicago newspapers put out as many as eight editions a day, each with its own name. The Blue Streak was the early-morning edition, the Red Streak was the last. It got its name from the red stripe on the horse blankets of the delivery wagons. Now the rival papers are being delivered in red vans.

 

Also going after a younger audience is CNN. In a bid to broaden its appeal, the news network has told its reporters and headline writers to "get jiggy". That means using more street language. For example, instead of using the word "style" they should say "flava", the hip-hop equivalent. Newsrooms have even been supplied with dictionaries of slang. Among the phrases listed are "jimmy hat" which means condom, "fly" for sexually attractive, and "ill" meaning to act badly.

 

No response yet, but the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox TV network has asked the United Nations for permission to send reporters and camera crews in with the weapons inspectors if they go to Iraq. It would, a spokesman claimed, reassure the world that Saddam Hussein is not hiding anything – if that is what the inspectors discover. Although the cost might run to many millions of dollars, Fox is prepared to share the footage with other legitimate news organisations. Of course, Saddam Hussein, or even the UN, might veto the idea, but Fox News chairman Roger Ailes says: "If Iraq is serious that it doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction, there is no better way to demonstrate that than to open up the inspections to cameras."

 

The Village Voice, America’s first hippie paper, has caused consternation in the publishing world by filing a lawsuit to stop a paper in New England calling itself The Cape Cod Voice. The Village Voice claims it owns the copyright on the word "Voice" in a newspaper title. The Cape Cod paper is planning to fight the case. Its lawyer points out there are numerous papers in the US with "Voice" on their mastheads, including the Irish Voice, which has been publishing in New York for more than 15 years.

 

Although he has yet to sell his Manhattan mansion, London-born publisher Robert Guccione is already selling some of its contents. A lot of the paintings, among them at least one Chagall, a Renoir and a Picasso, are going on the auction block here this month. Guccione, who started Penthouse in London nearly 40 years ago, is hoping to raise at least $15m (£9.6m) from the sale. The house has 16 bedrooms, a ballroom, marble floors and a swimming pool, and costs $37m (£24m). Since the Eighties, Penthouse sales have dropped from five million to little more than 650,000, and it was disclosed recently that the company is more than $10m (£6.4m) in debt.

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