American Pie 11.07.02

The recent financial scandals on Wall Street have created a bit of a bonanza for US financial magazines – sales are up. But, ad revenue is down, because many advertisers don’t want ads appearing next to negative stories – especially those about financial shenanigans – or stories that might make readers think twice about investing or spending. The same happened after September 11 –  Fortune,Business Week and Forbes all reported that ads were down,in some cases by 20 per cent.But there is no apparent decline in ads in the magazine published by Martha Stewart, who is at the centre of one of the alleged financial scandals. Martha Stewart Living is doing well –  for the moment.


In the Sixties, British papers had as many as 50 correspondents in the US alone, with bureaux in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Today, the number would barely make up a soccer team. But the number of American journalists based abroad is increasing. An American Journalism Review survey says US newspapers have 188 foreign bureaus, up from 179 two years ago. The biggest increase has been at the New York Times, which has expanded from 24 bureaux with 34 reporters to 27 with 41 reporters. The Wall Street Journal has the most staff abroad, a total of 128, although many are financial writers and the figure includes staff on the European and Asian editions. There were 304 full-time US foreign correspondents (not including stringers), up from 282 two years ago. The biggest increase is in Beijing, with 14 full-time US correspondents. London has 27, with more than half working for the WSJ.


If anyone’s wondering how Tina Brown is doing these days, New York Post columnist Liz Smith recently had lunch with her and reported that she was glowing. "She looked serene," said Smith. Brown is spending summer with husband Harry Evans in The Hamptons, Long Island.


Four women journalists will appear on a series of stamps in September. Apart from covering her lone round-the-world trip for the New York World, Nellie Bly exposed the treatment of mental patients in New York asylums. Ida Tarbell’s expose of Standard Oil led to its break-up in 1911. Marguerite Higgins was a Herald Tribune correspondent in the Second World War whose stories also ran in the Daily Mail. And Ethel Payne, a black journalist who reported on the civil rights movement for The Chicago Defender, was known as the "First Lady of the black press".


The  public was spared few details of President Bush’s colonoscopy. But for years journalists were not informed if the President was ailing. Few were aware of the stroke that Woodrow Wilson suffered at the Versailles Conference in 1919. And few knew how serious FDR’s heart condition had become by the closing days of the Second World War. It was Dwight Eisenhower who opened the doors to the medical ward. His heart attack in 1955 was the first presidential health crisis in the TV age. He instructed his press secretary to "Tell the truth don’t conceal anything."He took it literally and daily press briefings revealed everything from Eisenhower’s diet to the colour of his pyjamas. Only when his bowel habits were included did he complain. And Lyndon Johnson went so far as to pull down his pants to show his operation scar to the cameras. Now the occupant of the White House can’t have a pimple removed without world TV coverage.

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