American Pie 25.07.02

After years of chasing celebrities, magazine editors here are beginning to wonder whether they are losing some of their magnetism – mainly because most celebrities (or their PR agents) nowadays try to control what’s printed about them. As a result many celebrity interviews these days are bland or insipid Stars rarely let their hair down to reporters. Some even demand the right to review a story about them before it is printed – a trend that most editors are vigorously fighting. If not celebrities what can editors put on their covers?ÊMany magazines such asÊMaxim, Stuff and FHM use lesser known starlets – but usually in a state of semi-undress. That’s not what some of the more up-market mags can do.Ê"Oh for the days of Di." lamented one editor. The Princess of Wales on a cover was almost always a certain big seller.Ê

There is growing unrest among the White House press corps as the heavy-handed control over what’s releasedÊcontinues.ÊMany correspondentsÊare weary ofÊ

fighting forÊaccess to information. The hostility came to a head over inquiries about President Bush’s share dealings when he was in business in Texas. As one long-time correspondent put it: "If the press is treated like an enemy, eventually they become the enemy." Lately there has been a bigger than usual turnover of correspondents at the White House. Newsmen from AP, Reuters, ABC, NBC, the NY Times, USA Today, The Wall Street JournalÊandÊthe LA Times have all left for other assignments. Some had other reasons for doing so, but many have said they were unhappy working the White House beat, once regarded as a prime assignment.

 

Unfazed by criticism of their lack of modesty, the editor and publisher of Maxim gave a lecture to journalism students at Columbia University entitled "Maxim Saves Journalism".ÊThey were only half kidding.ÊKeith Blanchard, the magazine’s 32-year-old editor, insisted: "Journalism is changing fast and Maxim is in the forefront."ÊHe claimed that most editors are trying to impress their fellow editors and talk down to their readers. He even said: "Most magazine editors would feel uncomfortable, even horrified, to be stuck in a room with 15 of their readers." To the comment by GQ editor Art Cooper that Maxim’s readers not onlyÊmove their lips when they read, they drool, he countered with slidesÊshowing how Esquire, Time, Newsweek and even GQ have all jazzed up their graphics and layouts since Maxim’s debut five years ago. Today Maxim has a circulation here of 2,500,000.

 

Playboy’s spread on the "Women of Enron", showing former staff of the bankrupt energy company in the nude, was so successful that a follow-up is planned featuring the women of WorldCom, another company that’s in trouble. On the subject of baring all, Toby Young, the British gadfly journalist, has been photographed nude to promote his tell-all memoir How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. He appeared full frontal in the New York Observer with only his book, cover displayed, to protect him from any charge of indecent exposure.

 

Prize for the worst headline of the week goes to The Trentonian in New Jersey. On a story about a fire at a local mental hospital it ran the headline NUTS ROASTED. After a deluge of protests, the newspaper’s editor apologised – very contritely.

 

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