American Pie 10.10.02

Are political cartoonists an endangered species? Judging by what’s happening here, they may be. At least three major newspapers have lost their political cartoonist lately – mostly through death. So far none has been replaced. The Chicago Tribune, for example, lost one of the country’s most famous, Jeff MacNally, who won three Pulitzer prizes for his cartoons. That was more than two years ago. He has not been replaced. Even the New York Daily News no longer has a full-time political cartoonist. What’s happening? Some claim it’s financial belt-tightening. But most likely it’s the controversy that some cartoonists can create. In this new politically correct era there is hardly anything a cartoonist can draw that won’t offend someone. According to Paul Conrad, who draws for the Los Angeles Times, many editors prefer to play it safe. The one paper that bucked the trend was The Washington Post, which a year ago lost America’s most famous cartoonist, Herblock. Although it took many months, the Post finally found a replacement in August. It hired a cartoonist from the Buffalo News. But Washington’s gain was Buffalo’s loss. The Buffalo News has not replaced him.


For more than 60 years, Associated Press has been headquartered at 50 Rockefeller Plaza, overlooking Manhattan’s famous outdoor skating rink. For years it was also home to many British newspapers, among them the Mail, Express and Daily Telegraph. All were sub-tenants of AP. But the area has changed. The old-time newspapermen’s bars such as Charley O’s and Hurley’s have gone, replaced by fancy restaurants and high-price department stores. One result: rents have soared. AP, whose current lease will be up soon, faces a likely doubling of its rent, to at least $12.5m (£8m) a year. Where could AP go? One possibility is the old Daily News building on East 42nd Street, from which the paper moved soon after its short but troubled ownership by Robert Maxwell.


Gruner+Jahr, the German publishing company that has filed a $100m (£64m) suit against former talkshow hostess Rosie O’Donnell for walking out on her contract to co-partner the magazine Rosie, is getting nasty letters and e-mails from her fans. Many are threatening to boycott other Gruner+Jahr publications, which include Family Circle, one of the biggest women’s service mags in the US. ‘Save Rosie’ T-shirts, baby bibs, hats and sweatshirts have started appearing in the shops here. O’Donnell, for her part, is threatening to counter-sue the German publishing house for usurping her editorial control of the magazine and demeaning her character.


A celebrity magazine is to be launched here this month, called In Touch Weekly. But would-be readers might be confused if they ask for it at their local news-stand – there are already at least three other magazines with the same name. In Touch magazine is published by a televangelist in Atlanta, a medical magazine called In Touch is put out by a cancer prevention clinic on Long Island and a gay men’s porn magazine – In Touch for Men – is published in California. This, however, hasn’t fazed Bauer, the German company, which already publishes Women’s World and First for Women. It doesn’t think any of the others will be on the same newsracks in the supermarkets. Among the writers signed up for the new magazine are Nadia Cohen, a showbiz writer for the Daily Mail, and Dan Wakeford, news editor of Heat.

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