American Pie 18.10.01

 The anthrax scare didn’t stop the publication of The Sun and her sister tabloids, the National Enquirer, Star, Globe and Weekly World News. They hit the news-stands and supermarket checkouts as usual, but there was a noticeable dip in sales. Despite assurances that the tabloids are printed at eight different plants around the country, and none of them in Florida, many readers were nevertheless wary of picking up a copy, fearing contamination. There are now fears that the tabloids’ editorial offices in Boca Raton may be closed for many weeks while investigations continue. There are even reports the building might be condemned.


Tina Brown’s Talk has snapped up the rights to a book by an Afghan woman, now in London, who spent her teenage years living under the Taliban regime. The magazine will start serialising My Hidden Face in the next issue.


One unusual result of the post-disaster coverage by The New York Times is an upside-down sports section. After the NY attacks, it introduced a special disaster news section, including mini-obits, which it intends to run for the foreseeable future. But there is a problem. The Times printing plant can only handle four late-news sections at a time. This month saw the start of a new sports season in the US, which demands extra space for late results. The solution: print local news and sports in the same section – but differentiate them by printing sports news upside down. The Times has dubbed it "Flip-Over Sports".


The guard who found the bomb when terrorists struck at the Atlanta Olympics has failed in his libel action against the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He sued after it ran a story claiming he was under suspicion of having planted the bomb himself. A Georgia court has thrown out his case on the grounds that by giving a TV interview after the incident he had become a "public figure" and public figures in the US cannot sue for libel unless they can prove the publication knew the story was untrue.


The US’s 9,000 daily and weekly papers, faced with a major drop off in ad income this year, have had an unexpected temporary reprieve. They are benefiting from the hundreds of "condolence ads" being run in papers – some placed by major corporations, others by foreign governments, or religious organisations. "They may not make up all the ad losses this year, but they are certainly helping" said Steve Howe, ad director of the Wall Street Journal which has run more than 100 of the ads since 11 September, at a cost for a full page of $162,000 (£112,000).


Could Superman or Spiderman have saved the World Trade Center? That will be answered when the next batch of Marvel comics hit the news-stands. Artists have been working around the clock illustrating the new adventures, which will tell the story of what happened from the viewpoint of the superheroes. The publishers insist it isn’t crass commercialism. They will be paying homage to the heroes who are still working in the ruins. They will be shown helping the firefighters and police digging through the debris. They plan to give a percentage of the proceeds to the charities helping survivors and families of the victims. One thing has been ruled out: Superman will not be asked to hunt down Osama bin Laden.


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