American Pie 12.08.04

The line between editorial and advertising is getting hazier. So many magazines here are openly linking stories and ads that there is even a new name for them: mag-a-logs, a cross between magazine and catalogue. The latest is called Shopping Etc. Launched by the Hearst Corp, it includes articles about fashion, beauty and home products. Conde Nast, encouraged by the success of Lucky, a shopping mag for women, has launched a version for men called Cargo, to be followed next year by one devoted to home furnishing, Domino. Fairchild is jumping in with yet another mag-a-log called Vitals. Although purists are aghast, advertisers are jumping on the bandwagon and many publishers see shopping mags as a new cheap way of putting out magazines with mass appeal. The new mags are putting pressure on older established women’s titles, many of which are trying to be more “shopping friendly”. Even business magazines are succumbing to the trend. The web site of Forbes has started linking news stories and ads, raising eyebrows in the business world.

Buoyed by the surging sales and improving profits of The New Yorker, which has just achieved sales of a million for the first time, Condé Nast is planning a new and very different magazine from the multitude it already publishes. This one targets art, not shoes or handbags. It has no name yet, but does have an editor: James Truman, the company’s chief editorial director, who hopes to have the new magazine on the news-stands within two years. The 46- yearold is fortunate, he admits, that the owner of the company, S.I. Newhouse Jnr, shares his interest in art. After several dummy runs, Newhouse gave Truman the green light. He believes the time is right to give Gauguin and his modern-day counterparts a little celebrity treatment.

It’s an idea that goes back to Charles Dickens’ days: running books in serial form in a newspaper. Now the New York Times has revived it. It has been printing serial versions of celebrated books, a day at a time, in The Great Summer Read programme. The first book to be serialised in six instalments was The Great Gatsby, followed by Like Water For Chocolate. This week it is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Although an odd mixture, the programme has been a success, claims the NY Times, which is now considering a winter series.

It was claimed as the biggest-ever meeting of American journalists – 7,000 members of organisations representing Hispanic, African-American, Asian and Native American journalists. After an opening ceremony marked by Cherokee hoop dancers, African drummers and a Philipino musical troupe, delegates protested the slow pace of integration in American papers and news organisations. “We didn’t come here to celebrate,” declared Herbert Lowe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Black journalists don’t get the most coveted beats, he claimed. For example, reporters who write about the White House and Congress are overwhelmingly white. They make up 90 per cent of reporters and editors in Washington bureaux, although less than 70 per cent of the US population is white. The result? America’s national newspapers, he claimed, do only a fair-to-poor job of covering race-related issues. The Washington Post admitted: “Our staff diversity is not nearly where it should be.” The figure? Just nine per cent.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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