American Pie 28.10.04

Do newspaper endorsements carry any weight in political elections these days? By now most big US newspapers have come out for either John Kerry or George Bush in next week’s presidential election. The count a week before the polls open was 48 papers for Kerry, 34 for Bush. But do the endorsements matter? Four years ago Editor & Publisher , the US equivalent of Press Gazette , surveyed 2,000 likely voters and found that 94 per cent couldn’t care less whom their local paper endorsed. Seventy per cent felt papers should stop endorsing candidates altogether. However, E&P editor Greg Mitchell still believes newspaper endorsement can have an effect: “If they affect only five percent, that’s important in a very close race.” In 1952, 82 per cent of US papers endorsed Dwight Eisenhower or Adlai Stevenson. Now the number endorsing a candidate is no more than 30 per cent.

When Radar , the pop culture magazine for young men, made its debut last year, it didn’t live up to its name. After two issues it vanished from everyone’s screen. But it’s coming back, refinanced by Mort Zuckerman, the US real estate developer who owns the NY Daily News and news weekly US News & World Report. Thwarted in an attempt to buy New York Magazine last year, Zuckerman and a Wall Street partner are putting up $25m to reintroduce Radar . The title was the brainchild of Maer Roshan, a former deputy editor of New York Magazine who was Tina Brown’s editorial director when she was running Talk. He will continue as editor. Despite skepticism in some quarters, he and the new owners are confident there is a market for a title for young single people aged 25 to 39 who are fans of Sex and the City.

Us Magazine is offering a new service for readers of the celebrity mags who can’t get news of the latest scandal in Hollywood quickly enough- an ultra fast news bulletin transmitted directly to subscribers’ cell phones. The headlines will be free of charge, but for the full story there is a charge of 50 cents -about 30p. Several cell phone companies have agreed to carry the service, which Us is calling “Us To The Minute”.

When animal rights activists spray-painted blood-like red footprints outside Anna Wintour’s New York home because of her refusal to ban fur ads, the Vogue editor turned to her publisher Condé Nast for help. It sent a clean-up crew who got rid of the paw prints with copious amounts of paint remover.  However, it gave off toxic fumes which seeped into the house.Wintour’s children’s nanny was overcome and passed out. Subsequently she suffered medical problems and had to give up work. Last week the nanny accepted $2.1m in settlement of a suit she brought. Who will pay has not been disclosed. But Wintour and former husband David Shaffer are reportedly off the hook.

On the eve of offering shares to the public, US tabloid publisher American Media is facing unrest at its flagship title, Star . There has been an exodus of top staff, mainly complaining of the long hours and working conditions. Latest to leave is senior features editor Samantha Youngman, who is joining Bauer Publications. She is the ninth to quit. Some Star staff are concerned, it’s said, about the way Bonnie Fuller, the Canadian editorial director who was brought in from Us , is supposedly taking the weekly down market. Lately Star has been titillating readers with generous fleshy displays of bikini-clad celebs such as Britney Spears. Claims Fuller: “Our readers love celebrities even more when they know they have cellulite.”

By Jeffrey Blyth

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