American Pie 24.07.03

Maxim is expanding – to the maximum. The men’s magazine, which was a big hit when it first came to the US but whose sales have started slowing down, is expanding into other fields. Maxim cosmetics for men, Maxim cellphone games, even Maxim sheets and pillowcases. In fact, the magazine is following the route that Martha Stewart took – that is, expanding the publishing empire into all sorts of domestic products. Most US magazines, in the past, have been leery about lending their names to products of other companies – worried in some cases it might cheapen their image or upset regular advertisers. But Dennis Publishing is taking the risk. In addition to producing posters and calendars, Maxim is licensing its name to a company that programs games for cellphones, a company that produces CDs, and even a company that makes hair dyes and other men’s grooming products. Some other publishers look down on the idea. A spokesman for Time Inc suggested there was no product that could outperform a magazine: “It’s not worth it.” CondŽ Nast, publisher of Vogue and Vanity Fair, has consistently refused to license the names of any of its magazines. Dennis Publishing insists it is careful not to get involved with products that might cheapen its name. It drew the line, for example, at licensingÊÊ a brand of Maxim toilet paper.

The latest on Bonnie Fuller: the “wonder editor”, in her first week as supreme chief of America’s supermarket tabloids, missed her first deadline. Because she wanted to change the front page of The Star, to make way for a late-breaking story, the original layouts had to be scrapped. At a cost of $20,000 (£12,500) to remake the plates. Publisher David Pecker did not seem to be too fazed. “We allow for these sort of changes,” he said. At the same time the 46-year-old Canadian newswoman, who is reportedly being paid $3m (£1.9m) in her new job, has told staff that “chequebook journalism” at The Star will soon be coming to an end. Whether the edict will apply to the other tabloids such as The National Enquirer or The Globe she didn’t reveal. Meanwhile, as anticipated, Steve Coz, editorial director of the tabloids, has decided to resign. He turned down an offer of a job overseeing “special projects”. Leaving with him is his wife, Valerie, who was the Enquirer’s assistant executive editor.

The Washington Post is planning to launch a weekday tabloid called The Express to be given away at railway stations and bus stops. It’s said the move is intended to forestall Metro International, the publisher of similar giveaways in Europe, which is reported to have been showing interest in the Washington area. The freebie, with an initial press run of 125,000, is intended to appeal to readers aged between 18 and 34, many of whom these days get their news from the internet. It will, it’s said, mainly feature wire-service reports and entertainment news. Other big city US dailies that have recently launched similar free papers to drum up interest among younger readers include, notably, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Neither so far has been a resounding success.

There is a renewed debate here over what to call newspaper journalists. Among the suggestions: hacks, newshounds, newsies, journos (which may be Italian-sounding but is very popular I’m told in Australia). And then, of course, there is “ink-stained wretches”. That’s the one I like.

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