American Pie 10.06.05

It sounds, for some journalists anyway, a dream assignment: to visit
1,000 bars in 12 months and have a drink in each one. That’s the way
Dan Freeman, a 60-year-old retired computer consultant from Brooklyn,
is spending 2005. He writes a few paragraphs about each for a website
he now runs. Since 1 January he has visited 550 different bars around
New York. In most he has just one drink. Lately he has been accompanied
on his rounds by a TV crew and was interviewed the other day in
Langan’s, the New York newspaper people’s bar, by Steve Dunleavy of the
New York Post. When possible he walks from bar to bar – a feat that
Dunleavy, who was knocked over by a snowplough on leaving Elaine’s late
one winter night, says he doesn’t intend to emulate. One bar owner who
doubts Freeman will complete his task has promised him 100 free beers
if he does. Dunleavy, in his report, confessed he had never been to
1,000 different bars in one year, But he has been, he admitted, to one
bar 1,000 times in one year. He means Langan’s, of course.

 

In an attempt to cut costs – and save newsprint – some newspapers here have decided to stop running stock price tables.

One
of the first, the Chicago Sun Times, claims that stock market tables
are redundant now that investors go to the web for market information.
Anyway, the paper will provide the prices on its website.

Admitting
the paper might lose some readers, publisher John Cruickshank promised
it would devote more space to business news stories. They will get as
much business news for their money, he promised. Other papers, while
not eliminating stock prices altogether, have started cutting down the
space devoted to them.

 

In
another economy move, the NY Times is eliminating 190 jobs – about two
per cent of its payroll. Most are on the business and administrative
side.

The newsroom will only lose about 20 positions, it is promised. There is also a move to cut down on expenses.

Reporters
have been told they should not pay more than $42 (just over £20)n when
they take a contact out to lunch, unless they have special permission.
One reporter anonymously complained: “That’s barely enough to buy a
couple of hamburgers at McDonald’s.”

 

In
the wake of the turmoil over its story about guards at Guantanamo
flushing a Koran down a toilet (Press Gazette, 20 May), Newsweek has
promised it is tightening its rules about the use of anonymous sources.
Editor Richard Smith said the phrase “sources said” will be barred from
all future stories in Newsweek. Unnamed sources are not banned
altogether, but will be limited.

The story about the desecration
was followed by riots in Pakistan, in which around 17 people died –
although some say the riots had already been planned.

 

When
Meredith, the mid-Western publishing house, bought the magazine stable
of Gruner + Jahr (Press Gazette, 3 June), it did not commit itself to
buy two of its business magazines, Fast Company and Inc. The two mags
that G + J wanted to include in the deal originally cost the German
company more than $500m. Today they are considered almost worthless.
Their decline reflects the loss of interest here in business titles,
once the queens of the magazine world. Magazines such as Red Herring,
which were once the size of a telephone directory, are now little more
than pamphlets. Even long-established magazines such as Fortune, Forbes
and Business Week are feeling the bite. All three are suffering a drop
in ads. Last year the big three carried just over 10,000 ad pages,
compared to the 18,000 they sold four years ago.

 

In
an attempt to bolster the public image of journalism, five of America’s
leading journalism schools are getting together to elevate its
standing, pledging $6m on a programme. The plan involves the Columbia
School of Journalism in New York, the University of California, the
University of Southern California, Harvard University and North Western
University. A spokesman for the University of California said:
“Journalism is clearly in a crisis.” Programmes to improve the quality
of journalism are now regarded as essential.

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