American Pie 16.01.06

By Jeffrey Blyth, New York

In an attempt to snare younger
readers, many American papers have started to run more comic strips.
No, not Peanuts, Blondie or the other old favourites. The newest trend
is comic strips from Japan. Known there as manga. The most popular is
one called Peach Fuzz. Papers like the LA Times and the Seattle Post
Intelligencer, have signed up to run the strip – which is about a
nine-year-old girl called Amanda who has fantasies of becoming a
princess. She has a pet parrot called Peach. Sounds childish but papers
that have started running the strip claim it is pulling in young
readers, the audience most papers are seeking. At the LA Times a
spokeswoman, Sherry Stern, said, “Nobody knows the magic answer, but
comics are one way to reach people. That how a lot of people, including
myself first started reading newspapers” Actually newspapers are not
the first to click on to the new Japanese strips . CosmoGirl magazine
was one of the first to run a manga strip. There are predictions that
manga, although not yet as well known in the US as in Japan, will soon
be as popular as sushi..

Although its printed on salmon-pink
paper like the FT, the NY Observer has hardly been the same sort of
money maker. In fact its been a big financial drain to publisher Arthur
Carter, a former Wall Street buy-out pioneer, who has invested close to
$40 million in the weekly since he bought it in l987. Although it gets
a lot of attention, because it provocatively (some would say snarkily)
covers the New York society and journalism scene, The Observer still
sells only about 45,000 copies a week.. Some of the city’s best-known
journalists have worked for it, among them Graydon Carter, now the
editor of Vanity Fair, but most have moved on to other papers. Among
the writers it helped launch was Candace Bushnell whose column ” Sex
and the City” first ran in The Observer. Now Carter, who is more
interested these days in art (he designs and produces very modern metal
sculptures) has decided to put the paper on the market. Will it find a
buyer, even though its loses so much money? . There are reports the
owner of New York Magazine, Bruce Wasserstein, is interested.. Also
Reed Elsevier, the trade-magazine publishing company. Carter – even
though his paper has been described by the NY Times as a ” pink money
pit” – is said to be optimistic.

Medical and scientific
journals, in the wake of some recent scandals, including the revelation
that a noted South Korean scientist faked his reports on stem-cell
research, are tightening up their rules. They are taking a closer look
at some of the claims – and the background of some of the scientists
who submit reports for publication. The victim of the phony stem cell
research was Science,, which is considered one of the world’s premier
scientific journals. Investigation shows the editors were fooled by
stem cell researcher Hwang Woo Suk, whose scientific claims have now
been labeled fraudulent. ,. Other noted journals such as The Annals of
Internal Medicine, Nature and even The Lancet have also,, it’s claimed,
been taken in lately Some have had to apologise to their readers,. Now
Science magazine has said it will try to improve the ways it vets
articles. In the past the editors of science journals have taken the
position that it’s hard to detect fabrications. Now the science
journals are expected to demand more evidence that research is genuine
and the authors have genuinely contributed to the research.. Donald
Kennedy, editor of Science, admits the new system is not perfect – and
cannot be relied on to detect fraud. But it’s a step forward, he
claimed.

It’s what everyone anticipated and feared: advertising
in American magazines climbed a mere half a per cent last year, An
almost insignificant click of the clock. The only magazines that did
well were the weekly tabloid The Star, up 3.0 per cent, and People
Magazine, up around six percent. The only advertising that increased at
all was financial, insurance and real estate which together climbed
about l2 per cent. The rest all way down….

The cost of ensuring
celebrity scoops is climbing. For its exclusive cover story that
Angelina Jolie is pregnant (with Brad Pitt’s baby) People magazine,
it’s reported, paid a whopping $400,000 – that’s close to 250,000
pounds. For that the magazine got not only confirmation of her
pregnancy but a cover photo of the star with a very visible bump.
Actually the star didn’t herself get the money It was paid it’s claimed
to a charity, the Yele Haiti Foundation, a relief organization with
which she is associated. But it helped generate a record l7,600,000
page log-ons to the People website, a new one-day record. So the
magazine presumably wasn’t unhappy over the price it paid.

You
can’t keep some women down.. Martha Stewart, whose back in charge of
her publishing empire after her stint in jail for illegal Wall Street
share- trading, is planning to launch yet another magazine This one is
aimed at women between the ages of 25 and 45 who are still at a time of
their life when they are interested in decorating, fashion, beauty and
travel. It will be called Blueprint, and is expected on the news stands
here in May. It will be aimed at the market now dominated by Time Inc’s
Real Simple and Conde Nast’s Domino. Also planning a come-back in the
magazine world: former TV talk-show comedienne Rosie O’Donnell. She is
lending her name, once again, to a new magazine even though her first
venture into publishing, the magazine Rosie (formerly McCall’s) lasted
just a little over a year and folded in 2002.

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