American Pie 26.04.01

Although Anne Robinson took a drubbing from many US critics, another British import got a much warmer welcome. The first issue of the US edition of The Week was described as a handy way of catching up on the week’s news without the pretensions of some established news weeklies. "It’s a Plain Jane little thing that isn’t likely to win any editorial awards. Even though Harry Evans is involved," said Inside Magazine. But it predicted The Week would become compulsive reading and make scads of money for Felix Dennis. One reason it may do well, even though it’s sparse in pages and the printing is not that hot, is that Time, Newsweek and US News are going through a difficult time. The Week starts with a print run of 100,000 – but hopes to hit 500,000 by the end of the year.

Some magazines are getting smaller (or skinnier) but not Family Circle. For decades the queen of the supermarket women’s service magazines, with a circulation of over 5,000,000, Family Circle changed little over the years. But now German owners Gruner + Jahr have given it a redesign which includes more pages, glossier paper and, going against the trend, it will be an inch wider. But it won’t be giving up such true and tried features as How to Hunt for Bargains. Editor Susan Ungaro doesn’t believe in going the sexy route with coverlines such as a recent one in Glamour, "50 Tricks for Outstanding Orgasms". She claims sexy coverlines bother and turn off more female buyers than they attract – 39 per cent versus 9 per cent, she says.

President Bush feels it’s matey to give regular White House correspondents a nickname. During the election campaign he gave NBC’s David Gregory, who is 6ft 5in, the nickname ‘Stretch’. But then along came Washington Times correspondent Bill Sammon who is 6ft 7in. Bush has dubbed him ‘Superstretch’.

The world’s most famous collection of photographs is going underground. The Bettmann Archive is being moved to nuclear-safe, humidity-controlled storage in an old limestone mine outside Pittsburgh. Dating back to the Thirties, when Otto Bettmann sneaked two trunks of his pictures out of Nazi Germany, the collection is now owned by Bill Gates of Microsoft. The collection of some 17 million photographs is moving from a warehouse in New York, where the pictures were found to be rapidly deteriorating. But not everyone is happy. Picture editors complain they won’t be able to scour the files for the rare illustration they need. Pittsburgh is a long drive from New York. "It’s in the boondocks," said one. Although it is promised that ultimately all the pictures will be computerised, that doesn’t appease photo historian Gail Buckland who used the Bettmann collection to illustrate Harold Evans’ book The American Century. "With a computer you don’t stumble on the rare picture, the hidden gem," she says. Some, like her, believe the pictures are being consigned to a virtual tomb.

Is this a sign of the times? The Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota (circulation 47,000) is to start charging for access to its online edition. At the moment the paper’s website has 5,000 visitors a week. Starting this month – except for those who have a subscription to the paper – visitors will have to pay $60 (roughly £40) a year. The American Journalism Review predicts that by the end of the year more and more newspapers, tired of losing money on their sites, will follow the Post-Bulletin’s lead.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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