American Pie 18.03.05

Are
“bloggers” true journalists, and therefore entitled to the same
protection and privileges under American law as journalists who work
for the mainstream media? That’s the question before the courts here.

But
the White House seems to have made up its mind already. It has issued
its first Press pass to a “blogger”, 23-year-old Garrett Graff who
writes for a web site called FishbowlDC, that specialises in covering
news about the media. He applied for a pass to attend White House press
briefings after a recent controversy about an erstwhile journalist who
had been granted a “daily pass”, managed to ask President Bush several
questions and then was revealed to have used a phony identity. Despite
the furore, Graff, who wanted to test for a story about how easy it was
to get into a White House briefing, was issued with a pass within a
week of asking. And what did Graff think about his history-making visit
to the White House briefing room? He found the surroundings somewhat
cramped and dilapidated. The whole morning, he reported, was
“remarkably uneventful”.

Encouraged no doubt by the success of
women’s weeklies in Europe, and particularly Britain, more American
publishers are launching what’s referred to here as “down-market
women’s titles” On the newsstands soon will be a new Hearst magazine
called Quick and Simple. It’s expected to be similar to Time Inc’s
recently launched All You, which is sold here only in Wal-Mart stores.
Both are similar to Bauer’s Women’s World which has been around for
almost 20 years and still leads the pack, with sales of more than
l,500,000 a week.

On the male magazine front. things are not
looking so rosy. Publishers here fear a shake-out is coming, There are
too many titles, it’s said, for all to survive. Michael Provus,
recently appointed publisher of Giant (he was formerly publisher of
Stuff) predicts the fall-out will come in the next few years. Who may
fall by the wayside? Will it be magazines like Stuff? Or the smaller
titles? Chris Mitchell, publisher of Details, thinks it will be the
small, recently-launched, magazines. In the past year there has been a
plethora, including Cargo from Condé Nast, Sync from Ziff Davis, Giant,
launched by former Dennis Publishing executive Jamie Hooper, and
Fairchild’s Vitals for Men. Yet another one, American Media’s Sly, hit
the newsstands only last week.

One of America’s best known
magazine titles is coming back. Look, which along with Life, was once
one of the top picture magazines, is being revived. It’s coming back as
a movie magazine.It will be a sister to Time Inc’s popular
Entertainment Weekly. As an experiment, a test issue of the new Look
was sent last week to many of Entertainment Weekly’s almost two million
subscribers. Time Inc says research has shown a strong interest in more
movie coverage, But with TV ratings of the Oscars and other film award
shows noticeably down, there are some doubts. Dennis Publishing tried
two cinema-oriented special magazines in 2003 called Maxim Goes to the
Movies. But they didn’t go down well with the popcorn set and the idea
was dropped.

Newsweek, bowing to the protests about the
“manipulation” of its cover photo of Martha Stewart leaving prison
(Press Gazette 11 March), is changing its photo-credit policy.

In
future, credits for photos and illustrations on the cover will appear
directly on the cover, instead of inside the magazine. Although the
magazine insists its cover illustration of the famous American
“domestic diva” – which used her face on a model’s body – was not
deliberately deceptive, many readers called to protest. Admitting it
may have been a “dumb error,” editor Mark Whitaker promises it won’t happen again.

Tina
Brown is hitting the typewriter keys again (or perhaps more accurately
her computer keyboard) She has just signed a deal in New York to write
a book about Princess Diana and her impact on the monarchy and the
media. The book is scheduled to come out in 2007, to coincide with the
10th anniversary of Di’s death.

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