American Pie 08.08.02

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Some magazine companies here, faced with increasingly fierce competition from British lads’ mags, are doing just that. Maxim, for example, is the fastest-growing magazine in the US at the moment, with a circulation of more than 2,500,000. Stuff is selling well over a million, and FHM is pulling close. Having missed the boat earlier, US publishers are now racing to launch their own lads’ mags. Time Inc is investigating the possibility of launching its own and has even called in Mark Grolin, a former editor of Maxim, to help. Alternatively, it is thinking of launching US versions of of its subsidiary’s British titles, possibly Loaded. Rolling Stone has, of course, hired the former editor of the American FHM to give it a new touch.


First it was a drop-off in ads. Now it’s a surge in the price of newsprint. Several paper companies including the biggest, Abitibi, have announced they are putting up the price of newsprint by $50 (£32) to $430 (£274) a tonne. It means a whopping increase in costs for most of US newspaper chains.

The price increase could cost Gannett an extra $60m (£38m) a year.


One of the unusual traditions of US journalism has been the interviewing of jurors after a major trial. They can even say how they voted, if they want to. But now that right – or maybe it’s just a privilege – is under question. Four reporters working for the Philadelphia Inquirer have been fined $1,000 (£637) each and three of them sentenced to community service for ignoring a judge’s order barring them from contacting or naming jurors after a well-publicised murder trial last year. The judge, whose order was unprecedented and made a common newsgathering technique into a crime, scolded the reporters in court. She described their defiance of her ruling as anarchy. One of America’s most famous lawyers and an expert in press law, Floyd Abrams, called the ban on publishing a juror’s name after a trial unprecedented. He said it was contrary to the rules adopted by courts all over the US. The Philadelphia Inquirer is appealing against the decision. Said the paper’s editor: "I am stunned that a reporter would be sentenced to jail for asking a question."

One of the oldest tactics of US gossip writers is the "blind item", such as "Which famous Hollywood star and his girl friend made fools of themselves in the Ritz Bar the other night?" It’s a way of avoiding a libel suit – although it mostly leads readers to an unsatisfying guessing game. Now there is a website that takes the guessing out of the game. The site [www.dreamwater.

net/age/blinditems/mainpage.html] prints the gossip item and then lets those in the know append the mystery names. Or make a guess. One NY columnist, Michael Musto of The Village Voice, says he was surprised at how accurate the guesses are. "In future I may have to make my items even more obscure,"he admitted.


It’s the Silly Season again and some columnists have been inviting readers to name their most memorable (or silliest) headline. Not unexpectedly the NY Post’s famous "Headless Body in Topless Bar" is still a favourite. A new contender is "Mama Osama Prays for Her Little Monster" on an interview with Bin Laden’s mother. Still one of the most famous is the headline in the London Times ,which back in the Twenties declared: "Small Earthquake in Chile; Not Many Dead".

No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *