American Pie 28.03.02

The advertising recession – the worst in the US since the Depression – appears to be over. Adverts are coming back on radio, television and in magazines. Newspapers, however, are still suffering and many are cutting their size and dropping features. The most noticeable trend is the elimination of Wall Street stock prices. A staple of most papers for over a century, the tables are either being shrunk or dropped altogether. The columns of tiny type fill pages of expensive newsprint and rarely draw ads. Publishers are gambling they won’t lose too many readers because they believe most people who read the tables are over 55, the group that is most loyal to newspapers, and also most serious investors buy financial papers. Not that there haven’t been some complaints. When three California dailies dropped the tables they were bombarded with letters, e-mails and telephone calls. But they got more calls when they cut the size of their comics.

 

The Sun is due to rise next month as New York’s first new newspaper for decades hits the streets here on 16 April. Backed by a group of financiers, among them Lord Black who has a 12 per cent interest, the daily New York Sun will be a broadsheet with 12 to 18 pages of colour. Although the staff is small, only around 25, a sizeable list of contributors and columnists has been named. Among them Peggy Noonan, who wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan, Emmett Tyrrell Jnr, former editor-in-chief of the American Spectator, as well as several writers for the National Review. The Sun will also carry a column by Amity Schlaes, the wife of Sun editor Seth Lipsky, who writes for the Financial Times, and a column by The Daily Telegraph’s Barbara Amiel, wife of Lord Black. It will have a press run of around 60,000 and will cost 50c (about 35p).

 

Cosmopolitan may have its coffee shops, but Seventeen – the most popular teenage magazine in the US – is going into the beauty spa business exclusively for teenagers. The first is due to open soon in Dallas. It will have the usual spa facilities, plus a shop selling beauty products. Within five years, the magazine hopes to have a chain of 60 across the US.

 

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, beset as he is by the Middle East turmoil, found time to complain about an interview he supposedly gave to the Arab-language newspaper al-Wasat that has ended up in Penthouse, sandwiched between an article entitled "A Pimp’s Confession" and a feature on "Sex, Blood and Videotape". And just a page-turn from the Pet of the Month. A spokesman for the UN chief said they had no intimation that the original article – based on a Q and A about terrorism – would appear in the raunchy men’s mag. "If we had we would have said no," said spokesman Fred Eckhard.

 

The longest article ever published? The Guinness Book of Records will probably be receiving a claim soon from The Atlantic Monthly. This summer it plans to run a feature entitled "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center" – about last September’s terror attack and the aftermath – which will run to 60,000 words. It’s so long it will run in three consecutive issues. The author is William Langewiesche, a staff writer who devoted the past six months to the project. The series beats by several thousand words an article entitled "Massacre at El Mazote" which Tina Brown ran when she was editor of The New Yorker.

 

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