American Pie 19.08.05

Those magazine advertising inserts that many readers tear out and
throw away are getting jazzier – and harder to ignore. Upcoming issues
of Rolling Stone and US Weekly will feature an ad in which the
headlights of a car will flicker on and off as music plays and
soundbites from a new TV programme will seemingly emanate from the
page. “It’s something that won’t just sit on your coffee table,” suggested
Lew Goldstein, one of the heads of marketing at Time Warner, which has
put together the offbeat ad. Another marketing expert, Tim Clegg, who
helped devise the ad, said: “Ink and paper no longer cuts it, not in
the age of cell phones and internet games”. It’s all part of a new
effort to get readers to stop in their tracks. A recent issue of People
magazine featured a miniature version of a new sparkling water being
marketed by Pepsi. Other items found inside magazines here lately
include beer coasters, while one movie magazine, Premiere, is toying
with the idea of including bags of popcorn in each issue. But at one
magazine the idea of including a small vial of baby oil was turned down
as potentially too dangerous, especially as the majority of US
magazines are delivered by the Post Office. It was feared that oiling
or smelling up everyone else’s mail could lead to lawsuits.

The
jailing of NY Times reporter Judith Miller, now serving her sixth week
in prison, is having repercussions around the world. Since the
newswoman’s arrest, at least three other countries have harassed and
even jailed journalists for refusing to reveal sources. In Burundi,
according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the authorities
jailed a journalist for a story questioning the health of the country’s
president. In Nepal police demanded that a newspaper editor reveal his
sources for a story of fighting between the government and Maoist
rebels. There have been similar incidents in Serbia and Montenegro. The
feeling is that the jailing of Judith Miller has encouraged other
countries to take action against journalists. As Ann Cooper, executive
director of CPJ, put it: “Journalists in other countries are alarmed
that if the US, which has the free-est press in the world, is going to
imprison journalists, then it’s fair game for everyone else.”

Cosmo
is celebrating its 40th birthday – at least the version we know today
is. Founded in 1886 as “the magazine for the whole family”, it was on
the verge of folding when Helen Gurley Brown, a former advertising
agency copy writer, flushed with the success of her book Sex and The
Single Girl, persuaded the Hearst Corp to let her try and reinvent the
magazine. She changed the image of women’s magazines – turning Cosmo
into one of the biggest-selling magazines in the world. It still sells
close to 3m copies a month, has more than 50 editions in 31 languages
and several spin-offs. It’s said to be the most profitable monthly
magazine in America. Helen Gurley Brown stayed as editor for 31 years
(she is still, at 83, editorin- chief of the international editions)
and made sex in women’s magazines acceptable. A sample cover line from
the early days reads: “What a REAL orgasm feels like – Maybe You are
Being Cheated”. (For many years husband David Brown, a Hollywood
producer, wrote the cover lines). The magazine’s credo in those days
was: Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere. Today the
magazine is edited by Kate White who thought up a new (some would say
less audacious) slogan: Fun, Fearless and Female. Perhaps more
suitable, some say, for a magazine approaching middle age…

Jann Wenner, head of
the company that puts out Rolling Stone and US Weekly, is contemplating
a new venture – a reality TV show modeled on Donald Trump’s popular
show The Apprentice. Instead of testing recruits for the business world
as Donald Trump does, Wenner’s show will feature young journalists.

They
will be sent out to cover stories that hopefully will end up in one of
Wenner’s magazines. The prize for the winner: a full-time editor’s job
on one of these magazines.

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