American Pie 14.10.04

There is a new newspaper war in New York- the battle of the giveaways. Every morning dozens of ‘newsboys’ (most of them men and young women) meet commuters at the city’s railway and subway stations and at ferry landings, handing our free copies of Metro and amNewYork . The hawkers sing such ditties as “Nobody’s got papers like I got papers”. The idea is to get rid of their quota as quickly as possible and then go home. Between them the rivals deploy between 200 and 300 hawkers. Conflict sometimes breaks out. Rivals have been known to kick over or hide bundles of the other paper. Against orders, some give away two or three at a time or get angry when a rival claims a favoured spot. One reporter here has dubbed it “bellow journalism”.

YM, once the biggest seller of the young women’s magazines has, as predicted ( Press Gazette 8 Oct), been sold. The US subsidiary of Gruner+Jahr has sold the title to Condé Nast for a reported $15 million, plus assumption of themagazine’s monthly $10 million liabilities. However, it doesn’t mean that the magazine has long to live. With the title goes the subscription list of 1,200,000 names. The end of the year issue will be the magazine’s last, then subscribers will receive Condé Nast’s Teen Vogue . Around 70 staffers will lose their jobs.

Another once-popular (one might say ‘highflying’) magazine having problems is High Times , the pot-smokers’ journal. The title, some say, is in dire financial straits. “The magazine hasn’t yet filed for bankruptcy,” one insider told the NY Daily News “but the staff have started looking for new jobs. Most of them spend the day smoking pot on the back patio.” But with a new crackdown by the government on the sale of drug paraphernalia, advertising has dried up. Started 30 years ago at the height of the pot craze, the monthly has a circulation of around 130,000. Last year it made news when it hired Norman Mailer’s son John Buffalo Mailer as executive editor.

The new reincarnated Life magazine ( Press Gazette, 1 Oct) is having teething trouble. Although given away weekly by 72 American national papers, giving it an automatic 12,000,000 circulation, it’s having difficulty finding adverts. The latest issue has only three pages of ads, aside from a full-page house ad for its sister publication Time. The first issue had 18 pages. No-one is hitting the panic button yet, insists publisher Peter Bauer.

Red faces again at The NY Times . It reported on page one the discovery of an unpublished story by Ernest Hemingway, a tale of a bullfight that he wrote 80 years ago-even before his famous bullfighting novel The Sun Also Rises . Supposedly, the manuscript had been languishing in the files of an old friend, who died 14 years ago in Rome and it was only discovered recently by the friend’s son. The document, the Times said, was expected to fetch at least $12,000 at auction. Now it turns out at least two copies of the unpublished script have been in the archives of the John F Kennedy Library since 1982. It is claimed that scholars have been aware of the document for years.

For its 50th anniversary issue, Sports Illustrated ran a colourful fold-out take-off of the Cistine Chapel ceiling with a reimaged sports theme, featuring many famous sports celebrities including Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Sonny Liston and Joe Louis.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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