American Pie 23.09.04

At first it was just sniping at each other. Now a real war has broken out between the New York Daily News and its tabloid rival the New York Post. Next month, the News is launching a colour magazine called 25 Hours, which it is hoped will add some sizzle to the Sunday edition. The News has also relaunched a bingolike ‘scratch off the numbers’, contest with prizes of up to $100,000 (£55,000). It’s also going to include in its Sunday issue a revived version of Life magazine. Plus, for its Hispanic readers, it’s launching the free Hora Hispana. Over the past four years, the Rupert Murdoch-owned Post has made big inroads into the News’s circulation, by reducing its price to 25 cents, investing $250m in new colour presses and consistently scoring scoops. Taking a lesson from Fleet Street, it’s even started giving away books – hardcover versions of US classics such as Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. As a result, the gap between the two papers has dwindled to less than 70,000 copies a day (678,000 v 747,000).

It’s a big – and expensive – gamble, but The Wall Street Journal has finally decided it will start publishing six days a week. It will be the first time for more than 50 years the WSJ has published on a Saturday. The last time was in 1953 – the year Wall Street stopped trading on a Saturday. The main reason for a return to a Saturday edition is that Fridays have become big news days. Subscribers will get the extra issue free. The paper plans to hire 150 extra staff – most of them editorial.

Conrad Black faces a torrent of books about his problems. Three Canadian publishers have signed up authors to produce books about the beleaguered publisher and his alleged financial misdeeds. One of them, Shades of Black: Conrad Black – His Rise and Fall, is by Richard Siklos, the New York-based correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph. But Black is hitting back. He has filed a $2m lawsuit against Toronto Life for a story it ran in July describing him as “so irretrievably evil that he should be consigned to Hell”. The magazine claims the article – titled “A Toast to Lord Black on his arrival in Hell” – was satire.

Who were the three burly men who kept close watch on Vogue editor Anna Wintour during New York Fashion Week? According to the New York Post, they were ex-Navy SEALs hired to be her bodyguards during the fashion shows – specifically to protect her from the animal rights group that has been hounding her for months because she refuses to ban ads for fur in her magazine.

Jayson Blair, the reporter whose plagiarism and made-up stories provoked last year’s big New York Times scandal, upset many students at the Winston-Salem State University when it was disclosed he was being paid $3,000 to give a lecture there. Nevertheless, the lecture went ahead, with about 200 students listening to his 45-minute talk, which ranged from mental illness in America (Blair acknowledges he had problems in his teens), betrayal of newspaper readers’ trust and his views on journalism as a calling. Asked if he felt ashamed after making it more difficult for black journalists to succeed in the business, he insisted he didn’t feel he had destroyed opportunities for black journalists. He blamed his slide down “the slippery slope” to his nervousness under deadline.

Fairchild Publications is so happy with its new men’s shopping magazine, Vitals, that it is to publish a spin-off, also called Vitals, for women. Fairchild claims it is the first time a magazine has split its name and editorial

By Jeffrey Blyth

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