American Pie 17.07.03

Fed up by the way his paper, the New York Daily News, is being clobbered by the NY Post, publisher Mort Zuckerman has lured out of retirement Scottish-born newsman Iain Calder, who for almost 30 years edited The National Enquirer, to give his staff some advice. The idea: to give the Daily News, sometimes referred to as The Daily Snooze, more zip, more colour. Calder, who started at the Scottish Daily Record, joined the National Enquirer’s London bureau and then moved to the US in the Seventies. He is credited with making the Enquirer into America’s top-selling tabloid. Since his retirement he has been working on a book about his days on the Enquirer. He has put that aside for the moment to give the Daily News staff the benefit of his experience. At the first meeting the 64-year-old, who was known in his Enquirer days as “Icepick”, is reported to have torn into the News. He “ripped the paper to shreds criticising everything from the pictures to the headlines”, said someone who was there. Does this mean that Calder will be joining the News? Are the days of its present editor Ed Kosner numbered? A spokesman for Zuckerman wouldn’t say. “Iain Calder has been a friend and unpaid adviser to Mr Zuckerman for many years” was the only comment. Nevertheless, there are some who say the bagpipes are being readied.

From a peak of more than 700, the cadre of reporters embedded with US troops is now down to 23. One each from The Washington Post, The NY Times and Stars and Stripes, and two from The Washington Times. The AP has three reporters still embedded, Reuters has one. The rest are from magazines such as Time, Newsweek and Stern Magazine, also ABC TV, Fox News and Gamma Press. There is a possibility the number will increase if the US sends troops to Liberia.

The Guardian’s plan to launch a weekly US version is already provoking a mixed reaction. There are some sceptics who say it will never work – mainly because it is likely to be too literate for a US audience. One who disagrees – but is still cautious – is New York Magazine’s media critic Michael Wolff, who claims to have seen the prototype. He was shown it by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger during a recent trip to London. To start, reports Wolff, it is unlike any other weekly magazine that has been started in the US in the past generation. Not only is it about politics (it is planned to launch it this coming winter in time for next year’s election campaign) but it will be a mix of material from the Guardian’s own staff and US contributors. The biggest difference though, according to Wolff, is that it is largely unbroken text. No fancy layouts. With the Guardian’s sans-serif signature it looks, he says, like an old-fashioned magazine. On the other hand it may be a success because it is so British. After all, he points out, the two most successful print publications introduced into the US market in the past decade are The Economist and the Financial Times. (There is a third, Maxim, but that’s another story). Being foreign – and not a mass-produced US product – may help.

Bonnie Fuller, the Canadian-born women’s magazine editor who is taking over running virtually the whole of American Media’s empire of supermarket tabloids, is already luring some of her old staff away from Us magazine. One of the first to go is photo editor Darren Walsh, who is to be The Star’s picture editor. He couldn’t resist the offer. “My salary is significantly more than it was,” he admits. Also making the move is fashion editor Kelli Delaney, who has been appointed The Star’s “creative director”.

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