long ago an influx of British journalists was credited with helping the
American supermarket tabloids reach new heights in sales. In some
offices there were more British (and Australian)n accents than
American. Sensational scoops helped send circulations up into the
millions. Even the New York Times, during the trial of OJ Simpson,
acknowledged the many exclusives being scored by the National Enquirer.
But things have changed: circulation of the weekly tabloids has slumped
The Enquirer (which once sold six million a week)
recently dropped to under a million. And that was after the paper’s
management had spent $2.5m on a lavish make-over and even imported a
new batch of British journalists. It seems the tabloids failed to
realise a changing mood – sensationalism is no longer the big seller
and celebrity journalism has taken over. Some of the lured big names
didn’t turn out to be such hot-shots. British journalism
is no longer the elixir it once was.
The effort by American
newspapers to lure younger readers (between 18 and 34) is getting a big
assist from Associated Press. The news agency is to offer news and
features suitable for use not only in print but also in audio, visual
and wireless format. The new service has been named asap (“as soon as
possible”), dating back to the days when wire service news was moved on
ticker machines. Some 20 extra journalists have been hired, most of
whom will work from AP’s New York headquarters. But AP reporters around
the world will also contribute. So far more than 100 papers have signed
up. Many are expected to use the material in their on-line editions.
How much AP is planning to charge papers it hasn’t said but it will
depend on circulation.
There are, so far, no reports that papers will charge readers extra.
the Daily Mail and Daily Express exchanging copies of their front pages
every night even before the presses start rolling. That is what the New
York Times and its biggest rival The Washington Post, it’s revealed,
have been doing secretly for the past 10 years. It began as a courtesy
between respective editors, Joseph Lelyveld and Leonard Downie.
Explains the Post’s editor: “It seemed logical because we would always
try to get a copy of each other’s paper as soon as they came out”.
Initially, each paper faxed the front page to the other; now the pages
move electronically. Before that, both papers had messengers waiting
outside their rival’s offices, often with taxis, to rush copies hot off
the press to their own offices. This, of course, used to happen in
Fleet Street many years ago when virtually everyone’s office – and
presses – were almost within walking distance.
How many times The
Washington Post or the NY Times held out stories, especially
exclusives, from the first edition – as sometimes happened in Fleet
Street – neither paper would say.
Work on the film based on The
Devil Wears Prada, the inside view of the fashion magazine world by
former editorial assistant Lauren Weisberger, who worked for Anna
Wintour at Vogue, has started in New York. The book, a sensation when
it came out, was on the bestseller list for six months. The role of the
editor is being played by Meryl Streep.
Insiders say the editor is not being portrayed as Satan-like as she was
in the book. For one thing she is blonde, not dark-haired, will wear
more colourful clothes and gone will be Wintour’s trademark dark
glasses. The movie is due out next year. A spokeswoman for Vogue
insists that Wintour is looking forward to seeing it. “She supports
anything that supports the fashion industry,” said the spokeswoman.
Fleet Street newswoman Anthea Disney is back at the helm of TV Guide.
She has been recalled to her former job, after leaving the Daily Mail
in New York, because of the resignation of TV Guide’s chief publisher
John Loughlin, who is joining the Hearst Corporation.
Disney will continue as chairwoman of Gemstar TV Guide, until a successor to Loughlin is appointed.