American Pie 27.03.03

British journalist Christopher Hitchens tops the list of writers in this year’s National Magazine Awards. No fewer than seven pieces he wrote last year for the Atlantic Monthly and Vanity Fair have been nominated. It’s probably a record. His pieces ranged from On the Frontier of Apocalypse, Europe Light and Dark and Jewish Power/ Jewish Peril- which he wrote for Vanity Fair – to three reviews for The Atlantic Monthly. The magazine nominated for most awards this year is The New Yorker with nine nominations, followed by Atlantic Monthly with seven and Harper’s Magazine and Vanity Fair with five. The awards will be presented by the American Society of Magazine Editors in May.

The TV series that Tina Brown was going to do for CNBC was cancelled on the eve of the attack on Baghdad. The first of her series was to be about the Oscars and Hollywood movies. But she wanted to change the subject to something more topical and suggested The Challenges of Leadership. Whether the series will be rescheduled has not been disclosed. 

A poll by Editor and Publisher of America’s top 50 papers found that of 44 that ran eve-of-war editorials, a third were strongly pro-war, among them The Wall Street Journal and the NY Post. A third of them, including the LA Times, were opposed and the rest, including The New York Times, were sitting on the fence. A poll of the 50 smallest papers, many of them in Kansas, Oklahoma and other pro-Bush states in the mid-west, revealed that few even ran editorials on the war. One count showed only five expressed hard and fast opinions, and most said they don’t even have an editorial page.

Was CNN founder Ted Turner serious when he said he was willing to go to Iraq to cover the war for the news network? He insists he was, pointing out he is getting on in years (he is 64) and has been pretty well financially wiped out by the decline in AOL stock in the past l8 months.

After Iraq the most dangerous place for journalists is still Colombia. The slaying of 27-year-old radio and TV newsman Luis Parada outside his office in Arauca was the second murder of a journalist in the past year. The gunmen were believed to be right-wing militarists. Parada’s murder brings to 114 the number of journalists murdered in Colombia in the past 14 years.

With many states and cities here going through hard financial times there is talk once again of imposing a tax on advertising and on newspapers and magazines. Florida attempted this some years ago but abandoned it because there were so many protests. Now Connecticut and Kansas, both facing a shortfall in tax revenues, have instituted a 3 per cent tax on ads in print, and on radio and TV. Connecticut has also re-imposed a tax on newspapers and periodicals. It is feared other states and cities will follow suit.

Many journalists here were astonished to learn that Bloomberg News, the financial news service founded by New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, is awarding a pink plastic flamingo to the reporter who turns in the story of the week. Any money with the bird? “Not really, it’s an acknowledgement of good work,” said a spokesman. To which one Bloomberg reporter responded: “Tell that to the birds.”

Jeffrey Blyth

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