While magazines here are still feeling the after-effects of the World Trade Center bombing and the drop-off in advertising, newspaper editors are reporting that the tide, at least for them, may have turned. In a poll of more than 100 editors and publishers, two-thirds predicted the recession will be over within six months. And most expect the advertising will improve (modestly) this year. It doesn’t mean that many papers will be rehiring staff they laid off, but the feeling is that further cutbacks may be unnecessary. If there have to be any, they will be much less draconian than last year when hundreds of reporters and writers were laid off. At the same time almost half of the publications polled said they had plans for "substantial spending" this year on plant and equipment.
One editor who would like to be able to turn the clock back is Steve Slon, deputy editor of Modern Maturity, the official magazine for retired Americans, whose latest issue, devoted to how to survive the current recession, encouraged its 18 million readers to invest in Enron, the big international fuel company. The issue had already gone to the printers when Enron filed the largest corporate bankruptcy petition in US history, leaving many investors bereft and broke. "We goofed, no question. It’s very embarrassing," the magazine admitted.
One way that some local newspapers here have been offsetting rising costs is charging for obituaries. Not that they don’t print an obit when someone locally famous dies, but if the family would like a larger-than-normal obit or would like to write it themselves then there is a charge. A regular obit running to say 15 lines is normally free, but after that there is a charge of $5 (£3.40) a line. A full-blown obituary can cost up to $100 (£70). Some papers – for an extra fee – will even assign a reporter to write the extended obit. And some will even publish an obit twice – for the appropriate extra payment.
It’s one of the most unusual alliances in US magazine history – Cosmopolitan and Maxim. The two magazines are jointly publishing in simultaneous March issues a feature story entitled: "The War Between the Sexes…Is it Over?" The collaboration, conceived over drinks at a bar in New York between Maxim’s US editor-in-chief, Keith Blanchard, and Kate White, editor-in-chief of Cosmo, is one of the most unlikely since Tina Brown took over The New Yorker and brought in Roseanne Barr as an editorial consultant. Staff for both magazines battled over every line. Cosmo rooted for the idea that men should commit birthdays and anniversaries to memory. Maxim agreed – but insisted men should not have to remember anniversaries such as "first date".
Larry King of CNN is not the highest-paid journalist in history – at least not yet. Reports that he signed a new contract that would pay him $14m (£10m) a year are not quite true. To get that much the stock options that are part of his new contract would have to increase in value by as much as 250 per cent. Nevertheless his take-home pay will average around $7m a year, plus the continued use of a private plane.
President has been complaining that photo-editors touched up the effect on his face of the "killer pretzel". "They made it look worse than it was," he claimed.