Although not yet officially in the shops here, a new book about Harry Evans and Tina Brown is already heading up the best-seller list – and the publisher has ordered a second printing. Tina and Harry Come to America is by veteran Washington newswoman Judy Bachrach, a regular contributor to Vanity Fair, which Brown once edited. What has heightened interest is that the author claims Evans tried several times to have it, or sections of it, killed. She claims the former Sunday Times editor wrote at least four times to the publisher complaining about the way she interviewed the couple’s friends and colleagues. A spokesman for Tina and Harry said it was not an attempt to kill the book – merely to point out inaccuracies. One chapter goes into an alleged extramarital affair by Evans while he was editing CondÅ½ Nast Traveler. Another catalogues Tina’s tyrannical management style. Yet another claims Evans, while editorial director at the New York Daily News, rewrote stories to flatter such Hollywood moguls as Michael Eisner of Disney who, with Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, is part-owner of Talk, the magazine edited by wife Tina.
For years, an old-fashioned kitchen wringer with wooden rollers stood incongruously in the corner of the office of Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, who died unexpectedly after a fall at a media conference in Colorado. It was a gift from her staff, after former US Attorney General John Mitchell warned during the Watergate scandal that if the Post printed a story about President Nixon’s involvement in Watergate then "Kay Graham would get her tits caught in a big, fat wringer". Of course, the Post went on to print the story, which ultimately contributed to Nixon’s resignation. And helped cement the Post into the top rank of US newspapers. What will happen to the wringer now? There is talk of it going on display in the Newsmuseum in Washington.
Rupert Murdoch, still battling to expand his US cable market, is getting out of the magazine business here. Just two years after launching Maximum Golf, Lachlan Murdoch, in charge of News Corp’s US magazine division, has announced the magazine is up for sale. A spokesman added that in the light of the problems besetting magazines at the moment, the company did not feel it worth maintaining a division to publish just one magazine. There are two possible purchasers: Dennis Publishing and AOL Time Warner, which already publishes Golf Magazine. Pundits on Wall Street say things are going to get much worse in publishing before they get better. Where they once said advertising this year might go up at least 2.5 per cent, they now predict a decline of 0.7 per cent. If so, it will be the first decline for a decade. Magazines are expected to do worse than papers. Their ad decline is expected to be as much as 4 per cent, compared to 3 per cent among newspapers. And the gloom is expected to spread. Ad spend in Europe is also slowing down, an analyst for Merrill Lynch warned.
The only good news for US publishers is that the rules about counting circulations have changed. For example, newspapers that also publish online can now count e-sales as paid circulation – as long as there is a charge of some sort. And magazine circulations can now include copies sold at cut price. Until now, no copy could be counted if it sold for less than 50 per cent of the price on the cover. Now copies at any price can be counted.