American Pie 14.10.05

The big lay-off of journalists continues. From newspapers it has
spread to magazines. Latest to be hit: US News and World Report,
America’s third largest news weekly. At least ten of its top writers
and editors – out of a staff of 160 – have been given notice. The areas
they covered included science, health and culture.. Two of the writers
got their notice while they were on maternity leave. One of them, Sarah
Sklaroff, who covered cultural news was told her department was being
completely eliminated. A spokesman explained it is part of a
“re-positioning” of the magazine, which is owned by wealthy real-estate
developer Mort Zuckerman, who also owns the New York Daily News. Last
month the magazine – which has a circulation of just over 2 million
(compared to Time magazine’s four million and Newsweek’s three million)
– revealed that that it plans to focus less on routine newsgathering
and news features. It also plans to significantly increase its
investment in its website. Also it plans to consolidate the sales and
marketing staffs . “We are trying to be a more fluid responsive news
organization because that’s what the times demand” said the spokesman.
To which Zuckerman added that the layoffs are part of a strategic
editorial shift. Editor Brian Duffy explained there will be a different
emphasis on the stories the magazine will cover. There will, for
example, be a lot less “chasing news” Meanwhile at least one other big
US newspaper is cutting editorial staff. The Baltimore Sun is closing
its London and Beijing bureaus.

The new anti-paparazzi law that
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed is aimed at making
life more difficult – and more expensive – for free -lance
photographers who operate in Hollywood. It triples the amount of
damages celebrities can claim if they can prove they have been
assaulted or injured by a photographer, The law was proposed by a women
member of the California Assembly, Cindy Montanez, who said she hoped
it would curb dangerous behaviour by paparazzi – by cutting into the
“outrageous” profits that she claimed some photographers have been
making. Despite the objections of the California Newspaper Publishers’
Association, Schwarzwenegger endorsed the bill. Back in 1998, in the
days when he made movies, the actor turned politician once testified in
court against two photographers accused of harassing he and his wife
Maria Shriver. At the time he urged the setting up of “buffer zones”
between celebrities and photographers. Although the new anti-paparazzi
law doesn’t officially take effect until next year, it is seen as
already encouraging a crackdown by California police who have twice
been called in lately to investigate accidents involving celebrities
and photographers. Meanwhile some Hollywood photographers are waging a
battle of their own – in this case against Richard Desmond. . Kevin
Smith, who runs the British-oriented Splash, says his agency is
planning to file suit against the Express and The Star who, he claims,
are as much as five months behind in their payments. Although it got
mixed reviews, Men’s Vogue (Press Gazette ) has been given the go-ahead
as a regular publication.. Conde Nast claims the test issue was
successful with both readers and advertisers. The next issue will be
out in April, and the third is scheduled for next September, After that
Men’s Vogue will come out every second month. The trial issue carried
164 pages of ads, more than most other premiere issues of other Conde
Nast publications., In addition, and just as important, 150,000 people
presumably mostly men shelled out just under $5 for news- stand copies
– well over what was considered the “green light” figure,. Although
many skeptics believe the title, in many minds, is associated with
women’s Vogue, edited by Anna Wintour, Tom Florio, the magazine’s
publishing director,,believes there is a place for a “mature men’s
magazine” and predicts ultimately sales of over 300,000. Another
publication that has been given the “green light” is Radar, a Vanity
Fair style magazine that was first launched two years ago, then
vanished after just two issues, , Then was relaunched this past Spring.
Its first new issue – with President Bush and Paris Hilton on the cover
– its claimed sold “encouragingly well.”

Maybe the three months
in jail will finally pay off for New York Times reporter Judith Miller
(Press Gazette ) She is reported to be negotiating a deal to write a
book about her experience. The fee: a handsome $l,300,000 Also hitting
the keys: Norman Pearlstine, editor in chief of Time Inc, one of whose
reporters Matthew Cooper was also threatened with jail for refusing to
reveal the name of one of his sources in the same case. Pearlstine said
his book will be about the most difficult decision in his 37 years as a
newsman – turning over Cooper’s notes to a grand jury. He says he will
donate the proceeds of his book to organizations that support
journalists.

After almost 20 years covering the United States,
former Fleet Street newsman Charles Laurence has become an American
citizen. Coincidently, after most of his career with the Daily and
Sunday Telegraph he has also switched papers – to the Daily Mail. He
has signed up as a special feature writer, working (as The Mail no
longer has a bureau in New York) from his new home in upstate New York.
One of his first features was how he decided to become a US citizen, or
as he puts it – why he switched flags A lengthy process (these days it
can take well over a year) involving not just medical tests but also a
knowledge of American history . (sample question: What do the stars in
the American flag represent ?) and proof one can not only understand
but also write English In his case he simply wrote The Cat sat on the
Mat. A big jump in literary style he admits from the days when he
covered the Falkland War writing dispatches for The Telegraph. But the
Immigration Service Inspector seemed satisfied. – and once he had
reassured he wasn’t plotting to blow up the United States ( a requisite
question these days) he was, as he recounted in the Mail, welcomed as a
New American..

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