Smith leaves US job after bust-up

Smith’s departure followed a row over a Weekly World News story

Former Express man Martin Smith, recruited by American Media as part of its recent brain drain of British tabloid talent, has left the company following a reported blow-up with CEO David Pecker.

Smith is understood to have been in Florida for less than three months and was previously editor of Richard Desmond-owned magazine Star .

The NY Post reported he left the company’s offices after a confrontation over a story in last week’s Weekly World News which lawyers are said to have questioned. There has been no official comment from American Media.

Smith was behind the American Media campaign launched in August to lure Fleet Street staff to the US.As editorial director of supermarket-style tabloids The Globe, Sun, National Examiner and Weekly World News, Smith held one of the most important jobs in American tabloids.

The confrontation with Pecker was said to be over a story about Christmas in which youngsters were depicted with a chemistry kit described as “their first meth set”. There was a fear it appeared to endorse the use of drugs and was in questionable taste. About 150,000 to 200,000 copies of the tabloid were reportedly recalled.

It is understood that 17 further British tabloid journalists are waiting on visas to join American Media – including former News of the World reporter Alex Hitchen.

By Jeffrey Blyth in New York

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