American Pie 21.02.02

One of America’s oldest dailies, the 135-year-old Jersey Journal, is suffering from a new malady. There are fewer and fewer people in the town where it is published who can read English. Since 1990 the Latino population of Jersey City has increased 32 per cent and the Asian population by 56 per cent. One result is that the circulation of the Jersey Journal in 25 years has slipped from 150,000 to under 40,000. Although the paper is owned by the Newhouse family, one of the richest in the US, and owners of such publications as Vanity Fair, Vogue and the New Yorker, the losses, said to be more than $5m (£3.5m) a year, became unacceptable. Last month the decision was made to close the paper. The last issue was running off the presses when the paper had an 11th hour reprieve, after workers agreed to pay cuts and layoffs to keep the paper going. But for how long?

Another indication of the change in US newspaper readership: three years ago, as an experiment, Newsday, the Long Island daily,  decided to start a Spanish-language daily. Many executives were dubious. Today Hoy, as the spin-off was called, is the fastest-growing Spanish- language paper in the country. It has already overtaken the long-established El Diario, which for years was regarded as the leading Spanish-language paper in the US. Hoy’s circulation is now over 66,000 – more than 10,000 ahead of El Diario – and expected to go higher.

Are US journalists becoming more religious? The question is prompted by the increasing number of journalists turning up for prayer-breakfasts and similar meetings. And not just to find a story. In Washington the  dinner that precedes the  annual National Prayer Breakfast this year attracted more than 200 guests, 10 times more than when it started 10 years ago. More than half were journalists. A number of well-known news correspondents and television celebrities, including ABC’s Sam Donaldson, have turned up for the meetings. Among guest speakers lately have been the two US missionaries  imprisoned in Afghanistan for almost three months, who thanked journalists for keeping their plight in the news.     Salt Lake City is a prudish city. Which may explain why a Canadian journalist covering the Winter Olympics shocked the staff of his hotel when he walked up to the front desk at 4am  completely naked. Except for a newspaper covering his front and rear. Fran?ois Gagnon of Quebec’s Le Soleil explained he left his room briefly to pick up his newspaper when the door closed behind him – leaving him naked in the corridor. So he crept downstairs to ask for a duplicate key for his room. Hotel officials did not find the incident funny and called the police. He was ordered to pack his things and  leave at once. He found another hotel – but it cost him almost twice as much.

The largest-ever collection of Pulitzer prize-winning photographs is being put together. It will include AP cameraman Joe Rosenthal’s WW2 picture of US Marines raising the US flag on Mount Suribichi and the photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of the Dallas Police headquarters in 1964. The exhibition will be seen first at another famous news spot: the top floor of the Texas Book Depository in Dallas from which Oswald shot President Kennedy.

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