American Pie 25.04.02

The Sun came out on schedule but didn’t shine too brightly. The first new daily paper in New York for decades, the new New York Sun, came in for lots of criticism, but some praise. The biggest source of criticism – the long columns of type, seven to the page – makes even the New York Times, for years regarded as ‘the grey lady" of New York newspapers, look positively radiant. With its old-style masthead, the Sun looks a lot like a Fleet Street daily of the Thirties. One comment was: "It looks too sober."

The original Sun, launched in 1833, was the city’s first penny paper. It was produced, almost single-handedly, by a 23-year-old out-of-work printer. Its breezy style, short stories and cheap price made it a fairly instant success. So did some of its offbeat stories. The nearest the new Sun came to that was to put the story of the monster colony of ants on the French Riviera on page one. After several takeovers and mergers, the original Sun folded in 1950. Now a group of investors, among them Lord Black, are wagering about $25m (£17.3m) that the Sun can shine again.

If they needed encouraging news, on the day the first issue came out it was reported that circulation of all four existing New York papers went up in the first three months of this year. Biggest gainers were the New York Post, which now sells 562,000, and the New York Times, which sells 1,194,000 on weekdays, slightly more on Sundays. The new Sun’s target is about 60,000 a day, although on its first day it sold 75,000.


Even long-established magazines are not immune from execution. The 115-year old Sports Afield is the latest victim of the publishing meltdown and will fold in June. Bought two years ago from Hearst by Robert Peterson – a multimillionaire and keen sportsman who once killed a polar bear with a revolver – Sports Afield failed to bounce back from the ad slump.


The Independent’s Beirut-based correspondent, Robert Fisk, caused something of a stir when, in a speech here to journalism students, he criticised the way many newspapers distort their coverage of the Middle East or Afghanistan. As an example, he said that journalists used the word "disputed" instead of "occupied", "neighbourhood" instead of "settlement" and "clash" instead of "battle". The word "terrorist" has also, he suggested, become a racial slur because it’s mainly associated with Arabs. Fisk claimed that US journalists leave out of their stories information unfavourable to their country and causes. The problem, he said, was that they write the "what" but leave out the "why". He claimed the manipulation has been going on since long before the World Trade Center attack.


Another Brit journalist who took an audience by surprise was Vogue editor Anna Wintour. After receiving a journalism award in New York, she complained to fellow editors that over the years she had been the target of too many sexist articles. "Too much ink has been wasted," she said, "pitting me against my female peers in an attempt to create catfights where none actually existed." If she had been a man, she suggested, much of the coverage would never have appeared. "I need only to look to my male colleagues who occupy similar positions but have never been held up for such scrutiny and attack," she declared.

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