American Pie 31.10.02

Has The New York Times set its sights on producing a truly international newspaper? That’s the belief in the aftermath of the break-up of the joint ownership by the Times and The Washington Post of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune – a partnership that goes back almost 35 years. It’s been an unhappy divorce. Talks had been going on for months behind the scenes – with offers and counter-offers. At one time, The Washington Post offered to buy out the Times, which reportedly countered with a threat to launch its own independent international edition. In the end, the Post accepted $70m (£45m) for its share in the Trib (which started as an offshoot of James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald 115 years ago). Relations between the two papers have been strained since the death last year of Katharine Graham, owner of the Post, who negotiated the original deal. Ideologically, the two have grown apart in recent years. Of the two, the Post is the more conservative. The Times also upset the Post by providing English-language supplements, with the Times logo, to Le Monde and other European papers – which was regarded as under-cutting the sales (and prestige) of the Trib. With a circulation of only 264,000, the Trib has never been a money-maker. It does, however, sell in more than 180 countries – and the belief is that the Times plans to expand on this base to compete with, for example, the Financial Times and the international editions of The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal, published in Europe, Asia and Latin America, with its parent edition, claims the largest newspaper circulation in the world. That’s a title The NY Times would love to take over.

 

More kudos for Dennis Publishing. The award for best new magazine of the year has gone to Blender, the music magazine which in just over a year has achieved a circulation in the US of 350,000. Advertising Age, the trade paper that hands out the annual awards, also named Stephen Colvin, the Irish-born US publisher of Maxim and Stuff, as publishing executive of the year. Maxim, which Colvin helped launch in 1996, today has a circulation of well over 2.5 million, while its sibling Stuff, launched in 1999, has a circulation of 1,170,000. Colvin, 39, joined Dennis in 1988 as a salesman.

 

It’s belt-tightening time at Time Inc. After closing down Sports Illustrated for Women and business magazine Mutual Funds, the management has decided to cancel its celebrated – and lavish – Christmas parties. It’s estimated it will save the company at least $1m (£644,000). At the same time, the company has been having a clean-out of its offices, holding what’s turned into a giant rummage sale, the proceeds of which are going to charity. The company’s new CEO, Ann Moore, says she donated more than 2,000 books from the chairman’s office. She also discovered, she says, a veritable graveyard of Selectric typewriters.

 

Rosie O’Donnell is fighting back. The former talk-show hostess is counter-sueing Gruner+Jahr, the German publisher and her former partner in the ill-fated Rosie magazine venture, for $125m (£80m) damages to her reputation for criticising her ability and for its hostility when the magazine’s circulation took a downturn. There is no indication of what will happen to Rosie, which was once known as McCalls.

 

Some second thoughts by Tina Brown. She told a New York interviewer that if she ever started Talk again she would do it as a website.

Jeffrey Blyth

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