American Pie 21.06.01


After firing six of his top editors, The New York Post’s new editor, Col Allan, said he plans to take the paper in a new direction. What that will be, he hasn’t yet said. But there is speculation it may be back to the days when the Post ran such hard-to-forget headlines as, "Headless Body in Topless Bar". In other words, more sensation, more crime. The new editor, fresh from Australia where he edited Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph, is not that keen, it’s said, on political stories. The story he liked best in recent days was about multiple murders at one of New York’s best-known restaurants, the Carnegie Deli. There is a feeling the Post, under Allan, will start emulating The Sun, which Post staff find unnerving. For years it has been almost a sea of tranquility. True, pay was low and there were few perks, but firings were rare. It was, said one staff man, a "happy shop".


The Post’s rival, the Daily News, has problems with its advertisers. The paper ran an exposŽ, based on health department reports, on poor sanitation and lack of cleanliness at some of New York’s biggest supermarkets. Unfortunately, some statistics were out of date. Outraged, many of the supermarkets pulled their advertising from the News, and in some cases stopped selling it. The cost to the paper is put as high as $100,000 a week. In an attempt to woo back advertising, the News ran a special three-part, 12-page supplement extolling the charity work performed by the city’s supermarkets and pointing out the problems of running food stores in general. Not unexpectedly, the news department was not happy. They fear it will affect future investigative stories. But will the flattery work? Most of the supermarkets were non-committal. One owner said: "I’ll go back if they fire the reporter and his editor."


Other publishers may cut back on perks but not Felix Dennis. While Time and Fortune cancelled their annual editorial trip to Hawaii, and Entertainment Weekly its junket to Puerto Rico, the entire editorial staff of Maxim (and some of the business side) enjoyed a three-day, all-expenses paid trip to Jamaica, discussing future strategy and stories. Between rounds of golf and sessions at the pool, of course.


Remember the debacle over the Florida election results? And how everyone blamed the Voter News Service, a consortium set up by the TV networks and newspapers here, for the miscalls. Well, all seems to have been forgiven. After promising to make changes, the service has been told it will again be used by the networks, and Associated Press, in the 2002 mid-term election and the 2004 presidential election. There is also, of course, an economic reason. According to CNN – despite all the boo-boos – covering the last election cost the consortium $33m (more than £23m).


The number of ethnic minority journalists in the US is declining. A survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors shows that while 596 were hired last year, 698 left the profession, reducing the total to 6,563 – about 12 per cent of US journalists, compared to 31 per cent of the national population. And the numbers may drop lower. About 53 per cent of all journalists polled said they were not happy in their work – their biggest complaint: they are unappreciated. Of those surveyed, 73 per cent of Asians, 59 per cent of blacks and 47 per cent of Hispanics were considering changing careers, compared to 42 per cent of whites.


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