American Pie 15.08.02

Americans who, in the aftermath of last year’s terrorism attacks, began to think well of their press, are once again back to being critical. Many think the US media has lost its patriotism. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that more than one in three Americans believe their media is too critical of the country. A majority believes news organisations do not care about the people they report on, while the public’s assessments of the news media’s morality, fairness and accuracy have all returned to last year’s pre-September level. More than half think most news organisations are inaccurate in their reporting, only 35 per cent think they get the facts straight. CNN still ranks highest in credibility among TV networks, while The Wall Street Journal gets the top rating among newspapers.

It was like the running of the bulls in Pamplona. That’s how one journalist described the British media’s descent on the little California town of Santa Ana for the court case against Alastair Irvine, the Lord Chancellor’s son, after the Daily Mail broke the story of his arrest. "I’ve never seen anything like this," a spokeswoman for the local district attorney was quoted as saying in the LA Times. Some papers were reported to have offered up to $25,000 (£16,300) for an interview with the 19-year-old tanning salon worker whom Irvine was accused of stalking. Peter Sheridan, a stringer for the Mail, was quoted telling local newsmen: "When the British press gets going, the competition is ferocious." In the end, the local District Attorney appealed to the British press to show more decorum.

 

Save the stamps. That’s the advice to PR firms from one of the country’s leading media research companies. A survey shows that 46 per cent of US journalists now prefer to get press releases via e-mail rather than through the post. Nevertheless, 27 per cent of the journalists polled said they still receive releases by what some called "snail mail".

 

New editor of Us magazine, Bonnie Fuller, is a round-the-clock workaholic. Or at least, expects her staff to be. The magazine closes each week on Tuesday morning when copy goes off to the printers. But since Fuller took over five months ago, staff have been working all through the night to put the magazine to bed. The result: at least half a dozen resignations, including the art editor and managing editor. Although there has been criticism that in its bid to overtake, or at least catch up with, People magazine, Us has become too tabloid-ish, the new formula (and the all-night shifts) seems to be paying off. News-stand sales are claimed to be up 40 per cent while People’s are reportedly down 2 per cent – but that’s blamed on an increase in price.

 

On the sick list is Bill Mauldin, the Second World War cartoonist whose drawings of US soldiers Willie and Joe won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1945. Now 80, he is in a nursing home in California, reportedly in poor physical and mental health. Meanwhile, in intensive care in a New York hospital is New York Post columnist Neal Travis. Battling cancer, he has persuaded the hospital to install a fax machine by his bed, plus a tiny fridge where he hides the bottles of wine friends smuggle in and his illicit "ciggies". New York restaurant Le Cirque sends in care packages, while Langhams, the Manhattan hangout of Post staffers, sends a daily shipment of its famous Chinese dim sums.

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